How locations are determined and more
Many questions are asked year after year about The Rental Show, especially about the locations where it’s held and food at the convention centers. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions — and Allison Box has answers for them. Box is the senior administrative director, association services, for the American Rental Association and manages all aspects of The Rental Show.
Q: How are the locations for The Rental Show determined?
Allison Box: The location question is by far the most frequently asked question about The Rental Show. Deciding locations begins with the amount of exhibit space needed. Because of the size of the trade show floor, there are a limited number of convention centers that have the available space needed in one contiguous area. Cities that can hold The Rental Show with these requirements are Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Las Vegas; New Orleans; New York City; and Orlando, Fla. However, not all of these cities are realistic options, since ease of doing business in a city and the costs involved also are considerations. For exhibitors, the cost of labor in Chicago and New York City is prohibitively high. Travel expenses — hotel, food, transportation — also are taken into consideration and those would be high in Chicago and New York, too. We also know that some past cities we’ve used for The Rental Show — such as Anaheim, Atlanta and Dallas — rate low for desired locations. We will not be returning to these cities. That leaves three cities currently in our rotation: Las Vegas, New Orleans and Orlando.
Q: Why is The Rental Show going to be in Las Vegas again in 2013 when it was just there in 2011?
Box: The answer for this has to do with the bigger picture of what years we are in which cities. Since 2005, when we returned to Las Vegas for the first time in several years, The Rental Show has been in the city during the same years as CONEXPO-CON/AGG. Many of our construction exhibitors also attend that show as well as World of Concrete, which means they are in Las Vegas for three months in a row during those years. We are changing the city rotation and The Rental Show will now be in Orlando, Fla., during the years of CONEXPO. To make that happen, we need to be back in Las Vegas in 2013. The Rental Show will be in Orlando every three years starting in 2014.
Q: This year The Rental Show was again held during the Super Bowl. Other years it’s during Valentine’s Day. These are busy dates for my rental business, so why can’t The Rental Show be at a different time?
Box: The fluctuation of The Rental Show dates from year to year is based strictly on the availability of the convention centers. Going back to the start of the ARA annual convention in the 1950s, it’s been held in a warm weather location during the winter months and many people have always liked to combine it with a vacation. We also want to stay with a Southern U.S. location because of the weather, since attendees and exhibitors are flying and driving from throughout the U.S., Canada and the world. February also is one of the most popular months for conventions, particularly in the cities we visit for The Rental Show, plus we need specific days of the week. That limits the availability of dates we can use as well.
Q: Why is the food so expensive at every convention center?
Box: This unfortunately is not something ARA controls. Every convention center we use has a contract with a catering company that is the exclusive provider for the building. We are required to use that caterer for all of our events, such as Lunch With ARA and the regional receptions, as well as for the concession stands. The catering company sets the concession prices.
Q: How do you decide where booths are on the show floor?
Box: Booth locations on the trade show floor are assigned by ARA using a priority point system. Exhibitors receive a specific number of points for each of these categories: associate membership, years of exhibiting, size of their booth, sponsorship and paid advertising in The Rental Show Directory. The companies with the highest number of points are able to select their booth location first. In addition, an exhibitor is allowed to request that they not be located adjacent to a competing exhibitor.
Q: Why isn’t free Wi-Fi available throughout convention centers?
Box: Demand for Wi-Fi has grown exponentially over the past several years, with the increased use of smartphones and other wireless devices plus the technology used by exhibitors in their booths. Convention centers have had to upgrade their own infrastructure to accommodate the tremendous demand. As a result they charge everyone — convention organizers and exhibitors alike — to use the services within the building, with fees based on the number of users. Wi-Fi availability is an area that continues to evolve as demand continues to increase. Most convention centers do offer free Wi-Fi in limited public areas.