Editorial: March 2015
It’s March and that means it is time for our annual focus on the party and event rental sector.
By Patrick Flannery
It’s March and that means it is time for our annual focus on the party and event rental sector. Our cover profile is Raymond Brothers, a 113-year-old tent manufacturing and rental company in London, Ont., and you can find pages of great new products to help you help your customers host the perfect special occasion starting on page 20.
Canadian Rental Service and our parent company, Annex Business Media, are in the event business ourselves. Every other year we host the Rental Mart, Canada’s national show for the rental industry. Annex owns many trade magazines in many markets across the country (over 60 at last count) and each has a special event or conference attached to it. And, of course, I attend as many of the Canadian Rental Association trade shows across the country as I can each year. So we are always looking at events and assessing them to see what works, what doesn’t, what is new and what is getting old.
One trend is simply that events that bring people together are becoming more popular as marketing vehicles for all kinds of businesses. There must be 100 ways to communicate with customers in a market, but what I’m seeing is events, conferences, parties and networking opportunities are the flavour-of-the-month with marketing professionals, displacing to some extent vehicles like advertising and one-on-one contact.
Why? Events lend themselves naturally to social media tie-ins. Just look at the huge political demonstrations that seem to happen every week around the world organized, largely, over social media channels. Event planners can use the networking power of social media to fuel much greater interest and awareness of their event than they could in the past. The message in old media was “This is happening.” The message on social media can be “This looks cool. I’m going. Are you?”
But even as they rise in popularity, events are changing. Big national events where the goal was to get as many people as possible in attendance from all over the continent seem to have hit their peak in the mid-’90s. After a long decade of steady decline, during which people speculated that events would go away entirely in favour of Web surfing, a new kind of event is emerging. It is often organized by just one company, or a company in collaboration with a few suppliers. Often, a professional organizer is engaged to give the event a special flair or hook. The event is smaller, often by invitation only, and drawing from a localized area even if the host company has a wider reach. And the money saved on long-distance travel and huge venue spaces is channeled into goodies for the attendees – better food, better beverages, better giveaways and better entertainment. The result is a more focused, intimate gathering that better lends itself to longer conversations and socializing. The proliferation of small but upscale events of this kind should spell opportunity for all you party and event rental operators.
I’d like to draw your attention to a new and exciting feature of your rental magazine, the Safety First and Last column by Jeff Thorne, manager of training and consulting for Occupational Safety Group. Jeff has been teaching companies how to improve their safety performance and how to operate equipment safely for many years, and he has kindly offered to share his knowledge with us in a regular column. Safety is a topic that just can’t be addressed enough in these pages, and I hope Jeff’s contribution will help you and your customers to get home at the end of the day.