More than 400 event rental professionals gathered at the Orange County Convention Center at The ARA Show™ in Orlando on Saturday, Feb. 11, for the EventsU workshop, a full day of learning and networking designed exclusively for those in event rental. The day kicked off with a Keynote Breakfast — sponsored by Aztec Tents — featuring Ivy Robinson, a nationally recognized event designer, who presented “Creating the Perfect Marriage Between Event Rental Companies and Event Planners.”
During the breakfast session, Robinson spoke about building mutually beneficial relationships between event planners and rental companies.
“Make sure that your staff is on the same page as you for your brand, your image and your inventory,” she says. “It’s your brand from your dress code all the way down. Relationships start with your sales team and it goes all the way down until the last item is picked up whether it’s a day after or two days.”
She also talked about the characteristics that make a rental company stand out including communication, being on time, quality of products, customer service, teamwork, attention to detail and flexibility.
Throughout the day, attendees had the opportunity to network with fellow rental professionals and learn more about trends in the event rental industry. Education sessions covered a variety of event rental-related topics, and featured panels of industry peers and experts including:
Alan Berg, CSP — an event rental expert and international speaker
Alex Kouzmanoff, CERP, from Aztec Tents
Brian Richardson from L & A Tent Rentals
Bryan Bolt from TopTec Event Tents
Liz Davis, CERP, from Sunbelt Temporary Structures
Melani Kodikian, CERP, from A to Z Party Rental
Mike Holland, CERP, from Chattanooga Tent & Event Solutions
Steve Kemble — an event designer and lifestyle guru
In the Drive More Profit with a Clear Brand Story morning session, former chef, catering owner and marketing guru Aleya Harris, CPCE, talked about the importance of presenting a story in a way that builds a Know, Like and Trust factor with potential clients.
“Marketing, at its very core, is the art and science of building lucrative relationships,” Harris says. “You have to let people get to know you and your story. Stories are powerful. Be clear about who you are — clarity is the foundation of storytelling.”
“I am excited to take what I learn here and not only implement it to make the business I work for better, but also make my personal life and my personal relationships better as well,” says first-time attendee Sarah Willis, American Party Rentals, Durham, N.C., “I think there are so many aspects to what she talked about. Really, marketing is just relationship building, so it’s great that it can make you profitable in some ways, but there’s also just places that I can be better as a person.”
The EventsU lunch featured the session Stump the Event Sales Guru with Alan Berg — sponsored by B&R Innovations/Block And Roll. EventsU portfolios — sponsored by Choice Party Linens — also were provided.
In the afternoon session, Customer Service Culture: A Leadership Approach to Event Rental Revenue Generation, Chuck Salem, co-owner and CEO of AMARC, presented leadership techniques that build and support a customer service culture.
“The customer deserves a voice and I think giving the customer a voice without them having to ask to have a voice is very important,” he says. “Becoming customer centric is important. Service is like a seesaw. You want to maintain a good balance between what’s important and healthy for your business, and what you can push yourselves to do to be more customer centric.”
The day concluded with an evening reception — sponsored by Central Tent and Palmer Snyder Furniture.
“It was a great day to work on the business in its entirety,” says Kyle Richardson, L & A Tent Rentals, Trenton, N.J. “From warehousing to tenting, and learning from fire marshals, I feel like it was a complete day. I have a lot to take home with me. It was great to see friends I only get to see twice a year. It was really thorough. I’m so glad I came.”