The Stimson Report Oct '08 -

The Stimson Report Oct '08

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News and Thoughts:
Who is not thinking about the economy? Probably no one. Are you talking about it with your customers and employees? I hope so. With everything going on, I am sure lots of folks have questions, concerns, and outright fears for their jobs, livelihoods, or mortgages. I want to share some thoughts how to face the crisis both in terms of helping yourself, your employees, and your customers. Read more in this month's The Stimson Report.

The Economy
In the past few weeks I have chatted with dozens of AV industry veterans and the vast majority still report solid revenues through the end of the year. Only a handful has seen project cancellations that were attributed to uncertainty in the economy. That's the good news. What we all need to be concerned about is what happens after the New Year. I will give a more in depth forecast for 2009 in next month's Rental & Staging Systems magazine, but here's a preview:

The bad news is that most AV Stagers will see a downturn in the first half of 2009. Major corporations will hedge their 2009 budgets and may push some meetings to later in the year when they hope the news will be better and their future more predictable. But, many fiscal budgets that cover early '09 are already in place and projects are a 'go'. You only have to watch the news to see that alongside the crash in the lending markets, there are plenty of long-term projects going forward. Major construction is going on in Las Vegas and most large cities have key destination projects in play. Heck, in my home town of Dallas, TX a 1000 room convention hotel is due to break ground any day now.

What should you be doing right now? As soon as you are finished with reading The Stimson Report, call your top five clients and just say hello. Ask them how their firm will be handling the crisis (if it is one for them), and what your firm can do to help. Convey your findings to the rest of your sales and marketing team see if you can find some smart solutions to demonstrate your commitment to value and customer service. Reduce their costs without cutting corners. At the same time you could be taking a hard look at your company's own expenses. Saving a few percentage points off of travel costs or the cell phone bill will add up. Your employees and co-workers often know exactly where to save on expenses and are just waiting for someone to ask.

The most important message I can convey is to not succumb to a recession mentality. Customers know when you are cutting back and it changes their opinion of you - usually for the worse. People want to deal with winners and success stories. You might need to lower your revenue expectations, but never give up your commitment to quality.

André LeJeune, CTS, Named Rental & Staging Staff Instructor
This is huge news for the R&S sector. Andre has the expertise and knowledge to jump start InfoComm’s Rental & Staging education program. There is no official plan coming out of InfoComm this soon after a key hire, but we all look forward to hearing what we can do to help. Those familiar with Andre’s approach know that he likes practical, hands-on education in manageable chunks. He is very savvy with online education, streaming video, and follow-up testing. I know there is a lot of pent-up demand for training in the R&S community. I am sure Andre will be interested in hearing from InfoComm members about their training needs.

Perks Anyone?
Let others keep up with trends for you: I subscribe to several trend enewsletters. This recent post about consumer status and convenience perks from got me to thinking about our services in the events industry. It seems the biggest perk we give our customers is an occasional dinner or golf outing. What all of us need more of is TIME. Challenge your team or co-workers to identify ways you can save your customers time.

Marketing and Video Production
I am often humbled by how poor some of our websites and marketing materials are. We are in the communications business; you would think we could do better. However, I occasionally come across some pretty good efforts. This month I want to highlight several videos created by these AV industry players:

Colortone Staging Rentals hosted an industry event with this clever invitation:

You can tell they had fun, and this is an effective use of the medium. Another good example is PSAV's video introducing their rigging services:

It conveys the importance of safety and represents the goals of the Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) quite well. The third example is a video produced by Alford Media Services to educate folks on their wide screen production and staging capabilities:

They were also clever enough to put it one YouTube:

I especially appreciate their nod to 35mm slide animation and the photos of a very young Steve Alford. YouTube has become a marketing tool for a few AV companies. I came across these submissions by AV Stagers:


AV Actions:

While you are on YouTube, check out the Comcast Experience. This a huge 80' wide installation of Barco NX-4 LED in the Philadelphia Comcast Center's lobby:

The content management system actually adjusts what is shown by the time of day, day of week, weather, how the Phillies played, etc... There's 10 megapixels of LED up there making the image photorealistic at a full-field viewing angle. Awesome.

The Rental & Staging Roadshow in coming to Chicago on Wednesday, November 5th! If you have not been able to attend a Roadshow because we haven't been to the middle of the continent - come see what all the talk is about. The Roadshow is your chance to meet new folks, get quality time with key manufacturers and suppliers, and add some knowledge to your mental tool kit. Pre-registration will save you TIME at check-in and help us have enough food and beverages throughout the day. Our hosts are the nice people at Production Plus - don't miss the opportunity to see their facility! See the schedule, exhibitors, and register at

LDI Show in Las Vegas is Oct 20-26. The exhibits are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Plan on attending a reception hosted by InfoComm's Rental & Staging Council on Friday, Oct 24 from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM at Piero's Italian Restaurant 55 Convention Center Drive - right across from the Convention Center.


The Stimson Report Mar '08

Networking, networking, networking...this was a big month for visiting with stagers from all across North America. Between the Orlando Roadshow and Barco's Annual Rental Partner Meeting - I have been privileged to attend two major networking events in as many weeks. There were lots of lively discussions on the economy, insights into where business is headed, and great times with old friends. Read about this and more in this month's Stimson Report.

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The Stimson Report July 08

Another successful InfoComm and for the first time I think the event was more important than the sum of its parts. There just seemed to be a different vibe on the floor. I found that the exhibit booths were better looking and communicated their purpose better than in years past. There was clearly some budget cutting in play, but I think the net result was less fluff and more products. There was also a LOT of new products - something I didn't expect to see. And folks in general were positive about the future (at least for the next quarter). Maybe all the hype about the economy is just so much noise? Read more about what was seen and heard at InfoComm in The Stimson Report.

The Stimson Report Feb '08

This month's Stimson Report brings you a mixed bag of news and revelations. There is a brief profile of a new AV company that I think you will admire. I present a new website for sharing corporate events war stories that should appeal to most of you old-timers. And I share some thoughts on online networking including my favorite business tool. In addition there's a selection of news items that have recently caught my eye.

The Stimson Report Sep 08

Summer may be over, but business seems to be heating up across North America. Judging by the mood at InfoComm and the July Rental & Staging Roadshow, life is still good in the AV Events world. In this issue we'll share the word on the street and introduce some cool finds that are worth some of your brain time. Read more in The Stimson Report.

The Stimson Report May 08

No matter how well a company is doing, the conversation turns to the economy and the uncertainty of the future. The discussion isn't doomsday; no one seems concerned that the downturn will last. What they are interested in is more creative ways to survive and come out on top. This month I explore the industry buzz about the economy and some thoughts about what it all means in The Stimson Report.

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The Stimson Report Feb 2009

The business mood of AV companies across North America has drifted from cautiously optimistic towards tentative. There are pockets of dire circumstances and glimmers of hope all across the map. Regardless of their outlook, the majority of folks I chat with are starting to feel the crisis in tangible and discouraging ways. This month I want to share thoughts about two different battlefronts. First there is the media rant against business events precipitated by some insensitive financial sector executives. The second perspective shares the unexpected optimism generated by a very successful ISE show in Amsterdam Feb 3-5. What both views have in common is the innate understanding that what we do does matter, but it is our job to keep our industry relevant in tough times.

The Stimson Report Jan 08

AV Rental & Staging growth areas for 2008: Part of growing a rental company is making purchases for rental inventory in the "If we own it we will rent it" category. Here are a couple of items I think are now part of that group but will soon be must-haves. Audience Response technology was once too specialized and complicated to fit easily into the larger live event arena. But now most of these products are inexpensive and easy to use - but they do require some pre-production. Consider this another service you can provide your customers that falls under the graphics/slides production category.

The Stimson Report DEC 08

I know we're all tired of talking about the economy so I will give you a break. Instead I want to look back on a year of networking in particular at the Rental & Staging Roadshow.