The Rental Show offers a winning hand to help you succeed
Editor’s note: The Rental Show 2011, presented by the American Rental Association (ARA), is scheduled for Feb. 27-March 2, 2011, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. As the rental industry prepares to arrive in Las Vegas, Allison Box, ARA’s senior administrative director for association services, answered Rental Management’s questions and talked about what attendees should expect to find at this year’s convention and trade show.
RM: The Rental Show continues to evolve. What do you see as the most significant change for 2011 in Las Vegas?
Allison Box: There are several changes for The Rental Show 2011. A full day of educational seminars is back on the schedule for Sunday, as well as a new networking and awards luncheon that day, Lunch With ARA. The trade show again will be all in one hall, which is a change from the last time The Rental Show was in Las Vegas in 2008. This year all the exhibits will be in the Bayside exhibit halls, where the construction and general tool exhibits were three years ago. We’ve changed the names of the show floor departments also, to Construction/Industrial, General Tool/Homeowner and Party/Special Event.
RM: There is some excitement going on. The general economy is showing some improvement and many are forecasting a better 2011. Is this having a positive impact on the trade show industry and The Rental Show?
Box: There is definitely a lot of excitement and optimism, both for trade shows in general and The Rental Show in particular. Overall, figures from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), Dallas, revealed that conference and trade show attendance rose 6.6 percent in the third quarter of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. That’s after nine straight quarters of negative growth. We are seeing a lot of excitement about The Rental Show as well, with a substantial increase in advance registrations compared to last year and continuing high interest from companies that want to exhibit.
RM: The outlook for the equipment rental industry is for a slow but steady recovery in 2011 and many companies are optimistic about the future. Has this resulted in more interest from suppliers?
Box: Interest from exhibitors definitely has been high and increased steadily since the fall. Once January arrived, there was a surge of new exhibitors signing on.
RM: Early attendee registrations also were pacing significantly higher than last year. Why do you think this is happening?
Box: With the economy starting to turn around, people are more upbeat and eager to return to The Rental Show. Rental business owners are ready to replace equipment in their inventories and are looking toward the show as the place to see what’s new, as well as the place to plan or make purchases from the wide variety of exhibitors.
RM: You mentioned that the educational opportunities have expanded with a full day of educational seminars on Sunday again, as well as morning seminars on Tuesday and Wednesday similar to 2010. Why the changes?
Box: We are providing more of what past attendees have asked for, which is more education to help them in their businesses. Speakers from past years of The Rental Show, such as Russell White and Robin Crow, are back by popular demand. The education is the heart of the professional growth opportunities available at The Rental Show.
RM: The educational lineup also is diverse. What can people expect to learn this year?
Box: The topics for the seminars are based on what attendees tell us they most want to learn. We use evaluations at The Rental Show, on the post-show surveys and in the committee meetings held at the ARA office. For 2011, there will be seminars on business planning, social media, sales, business strategies, human resources, employee motivation, communication, customer service and marketing, as well as half-day sessions on cash flow with Carl Forssen and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a FranklinCovey workshop.
RM: What other changes to the schedule have been made and why?
Box: I mentioned Lunch With ARA earlier, the networking and awards luncheon. During the Lunch, ARA’s volunteer award winners and the Certified Event Rental Professional (CERP) graduates will be recognized. Also new for 2011 are Regional Receptions on Monday after the trade show closes. These receptions will allow attendees from all 10 ARA regions the chance to connect with peers from their areas. There will be an international reception for those from outside the U.S. and Canada as well.
RM: As you mentioned earlier, for The Rental Show 2008 in Las Vegas, the show floor was split and on two levels. This year, the exhibit floor will be on one level at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. What are the advantages of doing it this way?
Box: Having the show floor on one level and in one hall is advantageous both for exhibitors and for attendees. As was the case in Orlando, Fla., for The Rental Show 2010, the size of the trade show is more manageable. It will be about 225,000 net sq. ft. this year, with more than 550 exhibitors. ARA is committed to keeping the trade show in one contiguous hall and around this same size moving into the future.
RM: The exhibit floor also has a First-Time Exhibitor Pavilion for the second year in a row as well as adding a New Product Showcase this year. How will you draw attention to this area of the show floor?
Box: The First-Time Exhibitor Pavilion will be located in the rear of the exhibit hall, in the Construction/Industrial department. It will be a well-marked area with different color carpet. The companies exhibiting in this pavilion chose to be located in this area and it will be a great place to see many of these first-time companies all in one location. Attendees can’t miss the New Product Showcase, which is associated with The Hot List — Rental Management’s new product supplement that was published in January — and includes products that were part of it. The New Product Showcase will be located adjacent to the First-Time Exhibitor Pavilion. Attendees should look for what appear to be flaming columns.
RM: Attendees have come to expect at least one spectacular event as part of The Rental Show. What will you do this year?
Box: This year will have Leverage at LAX on Sunday night, which will include the ARAPAC cocktail bar. This exclusive event will be at LAX Nightclub at Luxor Las Vegas, with the club only open to ARA that evening. It will feature classic rock by the live band Yellow Brick Road along with food, beer, wine and soft drinks. In addition, the ARAPAC cocktail bar will be at Noir Bar inside LAX and it will be the only place cocktails will be available. The cocktail bar is a fundraiser for ARA’s political action committee. Please note that for the entire event, guests must be 21 and show proper ID to attend.
RM: This year’s theme of the show is “Leverage Your Investment.” Why did you choose this theme and what does it mean?
Box: It was developed by The Rental Show Work Group in the summer of 2010 as they were discussing the reasons why they personally attend the show. They all agreed that it is to leverage the investments they individually have made in their own businesses and that by attending they are able to save money, make money, achieve personal growth and achieve professional growth.
RM: You’ve been to New Orleans in preparation for The Rental Show’s return to the city in 2012. Is New Orleans ready to host the show?
Box: Absolutely. The convention center has been completely renovated, as have all the hotels in the convention district. We have negotiated a great housing package for the 2012 show and Travel Planners will be in Las Vegas to assist attendees and exhibitors in booking rooms for The Rental Show in New Orleans. A representative from the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau will be in the ARA Member Resource Center on the show floor to answer any questions attendees may have about New Orleans also.
RM: After New Orleans, The Rental Show returns to Las Vegas in 2013 and then goes to Orlando, Fla., in 2014. That means The Rental Show will no longer be in Las Vegas the same year as ConExpo. Why did ARA decide to do this?
Box: Our construction exhibitors have told us that three shows in Las Vegas during a ConExpo year is tough — World of Concrete, The Rental Show and ConExpo. ConExpo is held every three years in Las Vegas. Since Orlando is typically the best attendance draw for The Rental Show, it was decided to make Orlando the host city in the ConExpo year and give our exhibitors a break from Las Vegas.