On behalf of the Rental & Staging Council of InfoComm International, let me welcome you to InfoComm '07. There are four fronts you will want to attack in order to take full advantage of your trip to Anaheim. First, there is the association itself. InfoComm International is so much more than this annual trade show, this is your year-round connection to the AV rental industry. If there wasn't an InfoComm, we'd have to invent one. Second, InfoComm, the show, is an educational opportunity. Every year the training just gets better. When was the last time you studied the courses they have available for you and your employees? Third, this event is all about technology. There are over 800 exhibitors with more products than you can possibly see in just one day. Finally, as I have stated on many occasions, InfoComm is the networking event of the year. Whether you are new to the show or an old-timer like me, here's some hints on how to make this trip pay for itself.
First and foremost, add the Rental & Staging Forum to your calendar Tuesday, June 19 at 2:30 pm, Anaheim Hilton, in California D. This is one of the best attended events at the show and is a great place start your networking efforts or just find old friends. The Forum is a moderated panel discussion with audience participation. Each year we put together a panel of industry icons and relevant topics, plus the audience response system is back again. Always trying to keep things interesting and edgy, the Rental & Staging Council has poked around to find some controversial and relevant topics. This year's subjects include intellectual property in proposals, the line between production and staging, employment contracts, recruiting and retention, and "Who really knows anything about HDTV?" Our panelists will be a surprise as always, but rest assured these issues matter to them. Stay around after the Forum and enjoy the annual Rental & Staging Reception. Wherever there's free food and drinks, you'll find AV rental folks swapping stories. If you are missing, expect to be talked about.
Sometime during your trip, stop by the InfoComm booth in Hall E. I know you read all the mailings and email you receive that tell you how to use your membership, but just this once, ask a real person to tell you about the benefits InfoComm membership. There is more to know about the association than most of us will take time to learn about. And while you have their attention, tell InfoComm what else is important to you. They are there to listen.
I hear all the time about how education is important to Rental & Stagers. I counted 37 seminars or manufacturer training classes that should be of interest to someone in your company at the show. On top of that there are numerous one to three day workshops on a variety of general interest topics. In last month's issue of Rental & Staging Systems I mentioned some not-to-miss courses. One thing many attendees overlook is that there is numerous courses offered by the co-located Technologies for Worship conference that InfoComm attendees can attend. TW offers a number of very good audio seminars and have a great pavilion on the exhibit floor with hands-on training opportunities.
Special events give InfoComm that value-added experience we strive to achieve in our own businesses. Last year's Opening Night Party was so successful that it has returned as InfoComm's Big Night. On Monday night from 6:00 pm till 9:30 pm, enjoy three back-to-back must-attend events. It all starts with the opening night reception that includes plenty of free food and ample opportunities to buy me a drink. At 7:00 pm InfoComm honors the best in AV with a fast-paced awards ceremony. Come see which of your Staging colleagues earned the coveted Staged Events Award and which products earned the Rental & Staging Systems Magazine Product Awards. InfoComm also honors its top volunteers who all deserve our applause. And to top off the evening, stay for the InfoComm Battle of the Bands featuring groups from InfoComm member companies. Rumor has it that Alford Media's Burgundy band will be back again this year. Come see who is willing to go up against those guys!
Finally, there's always excitement on the exhibit floor. My first stop is always the Lighting & Staging Pavilion. Even the Systems' Integrators think this is the most interesting part of the exhibit floor. This area has grown again this year and the exhibitors will be trying to out-do one another. InfoComm has also become the best place to shop for audio products. Every major audio manufacturer is at the show and there are hands-on training opportunities in the Technology for Worship pavilion. The Large Venue Display Gallery features four well-known projection manufacturers in individual galleries. This year's content focuses on HD sources and all will use HD-SDI signal paths. If HD is part of your future (and of course it is), this a great place to see and compare cutting-edge projection technology.
Finally, don't forget your networking skills. Here's how it works: when you recognize a name badge from another Rental & Staging company, introduce yourself by saying you've heard a lot of good things about them. Then there are three vital questions that most people want to talk about. 1.) How did you find time to come to the show? 2.) What's the coolest thing you've seen so far? If those two questions get answered and you have exchanged business cards, then, and only then, is it alright to ask the most important question, 3.) Do you have any extra invites to the VER Party?
Here's where to find me at the show:
June 18, 6:00 pm InfoComm's Big Night
June 19, 8:00 - 10:00 am My Seminar: The Emerging Event Staging Operation
10:00 am - 2:00 pm Exhibit Floor
2:30 pm - 5:30 pm Rental & Staging Forum & Reception
June 208:30 am - 1:00 pm Exhibit Floor and Auditing Seminars
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm Rental & Staging Council Meeting
Exhibit Floor till 5:00 pm
The VER Party
June 218:30 am till closing, Exhibit Floor
The Ultimate Rental & Staging Marketing Research
The most significant residual effect of the post-downturn AV Staging economy, is that there are a lot of companies out there still competing on price while trying to differentiate on service. The more important issues are what are your customers looking for and whos your competition on key differentiators?
For many stagers, competing for national staging business is the Holy Grail of marketing. The Stimson Group will release for sale the 2007 Event Staging Services Buyers Survey on June 15, just in time for InfoComm. For the first time ever, well-known AV Staging companies will be rated by their customers alongside their competitors. Here is a very small sample of the report.
The subjects are primarily Producers and Production Managers the true economic buyers for stagers.
Before asking about individual companies, the survey explores what matters in general to these buyers. Some highlights include the revelation that having the sales person on show site is not a big influencer. That one piece of information might shrink more than a few non-billable expense accounts. The relationship between price and quality indicates that almost half of respondents think that best in class service is critical, while one half believe that lowest price is still pretty important. Lets hope these arent the same people!
Please rate each of the following factors as decision-making criteria when hiring a staging company.
To learn more about the complete survey and how you can use it yourself, visit www.trstimson.com.
Each month The Stimson Group conducts a short survey of AV industry professionals about a variety of topics. To participate in or comment on those surveys, email: email@example.com.