Its always seemed odd to refer to our market with the catchall phrase rental & staging. Yes, theres certain logic to lumping the two things together: Some staging does involve the same service provider doing the rental and the staging for one client.
Some staging companies do some box rental, and there are a handful
of large companies that provide both rental and staging services,
although they typically set up separate divisions to handle the separate
But equipment rental really is executed under a different business
model than what works for staging, where its all about service and
value-add, not about (seemingly) interchangeable video, audio, and
staging gear. So why are the two markets interlocked in the minds of
suppliers, customers, and trade associations (and, OK, some trade
As different as the two markets rental and staging are, they do
share one attribute that is at the heart of at least the supply side of the
equation: in both markets, our readers are the end-users of equipment.
This is very distinct from any other vertical AV market, where
the dealer is procuring gear for an end-user client. Rental companies
and/or stagers are the end-user, as least as far as technology is concerned. As we have commented here before, this dynamic shapes this market or, better said, it shapes the relationship between equipment suppliers and dealers of AV gear whose predominant business is rental/staging.
Id like to say that it shapes it in a positive way, but the perennial complaint in our industry is that rental/stagers are not given the same kind of attention as the end-users in other AV markets corporate or education market AV users, for example. Yes, rental/stagers are highly respected by equipment manufacturers and are know to be savvy, rigorous users, providing what are essentially lab tests for new product development. But when it comes to the release of new-generation gear developed especially for their needs, there is some feeling that the rental/staging market does not get the respect it deserves.
So our industry vibrant, growing, and involved in some of the most exciting technology there is is healthy, but we still, all of us, tend to look at the market from the supply side rather than the demand side. Its easy to fall into that habit, because the market is indeed fragmented: rental vs. staging; the small supplier vs. the handful of national suppliers; hotel market vs. the association market vs. the corporate event market.
And, despite the vibrancy of the industry, many of the suppliers are small companies, and national market research about trends and sales is rudimentary at best.
As we head toward years end, my mind is going to be occupied with how we can all start defining the market with more attention paid to demand-side, and not assuming that the corporate or association or meeting planner customer has needs or concerns that are (mysteriously) not evolving with demographic, technology, and other changes that are affecting every industry, globally. (Hint: The crossover between installed AV, home electronics, mobile electronics, digital signage, and other out-of-home messaging has never been stronger. And Im not talking about the supply-side convergence of technology. That will never happen. Im talking about the convergence of demandside needs.)
So stay tuned here for expanded demand-side coverage, and the launch of new products, services, and events to address a changing market all under the banner of that old catch phrase rental & staging, but addressing changes in our industry that are anything but business as usual.