As I have mentioned on our blog in the past week, I was in DC last week for the inaugural InfoComm event for the live events industry, the one they entitled “InfoComm Live.” It was billed as InfoComm’s way to bring together “thought leaders” from the rental and staging industry, to discuss the state, and the future, of the industry.
First of all, I question the idea of our portion of the industry actually having such leaders. Like Groucho Marx, I try not to join any group that would have me. But enough of disparaging my friends and fellow attendees; some of them are actually pretty smart.
Now on to the event itself. Because, personally, I think the event was about more than the future of our portion of the industry. It was about the future of our industry with InfoComm. It is no secret to my readers that I have complained about InfoComm’s loss of focus on the rental portion of the industry, and that I am not the only one who felt that way. So I was really, really thrilled to see the association (one I devoted a lot of years of teaching and advocacy to) put on such an event.
Without further ado, let me give you some of the highlights of the event.
First, in the true spirit of the staging industry, we opened with loud music and an accompanying opening graphics presentation of flying 3D graphics that read “Reach Higher,” “Do More” and, probably, “Be The Ball”. It was really thought-provoking to be on the audience side of a “3D Parade of Cliches” opener for a change. They always make me think of what a good job the salesperson did, except, of course, that this one introduced Duffy Wilbert.
Then, as with all business conferences, there were a series of business presentations, covering a number of topics of interest to the staging industry. Among the highlights for me was an excellent (and I do mean excellent) presentation on handling generational issues in the workplace.
I will admit that for a lot of the presentations portion I felt them to be similar to those we sit through as the operators of events — well presented but generic as to the business they were aimed at. The notable exception was a presentation on the value proposition in the rental industry, because it was given by one of our own, Tom Stimson. I came expecting to see content specific to the unique challenges of the rental industry, and this one didn’t disappoint, and my hat’s off to Tom for a well-thought-out and relevant piece.
I could go on about the details of the event, and some humorous tales about things like the scavenger hunt at the International Spy Museum, where most of the teams wandered around uncertain of what to do, and sharing stories about business while we were supposed to be sticking little dots on each other for some reason I have yet to comprehend. But I could have told the organizers that trying to conduct such an event with this group was going to be like herding cats anyway. Plus, it gave yours truly a chance to wander around and talk to Randy Lemke, (who will be retiring this year, and will be sorely missed by the association and the industry it serves) about the association, and the future of the rental segment. And, when I think of it, maybe those discussions are what the staff actually meant to happen there, anyway, and if so, they succeeded.
Was the event a success? Yes, in my opinion, it was. It accomplished a number of things. It signaled InfoComm’s continued interest in providing content and services specific to the rental and staging portion of the industry. The staff was there to listen, and to communicate their recent efforts and goals, and we were there to talk to them, and each other, about where our industry stands. I think both groups took away the biggest benefit of the whole event just from that. Plus, it gave a big group of us, scattered from around the country, a chance to come together and talk about our businesses and our craft. And no event when you do that could possibly fail. Put this group in a room and we already HAVE plenty of content. Bring more than that and you’re my hero, but that is really all it takes. The association now employs a number of people with a lot of expertise on the rental field, and they should be listened to when it comes to content for this kind of event. But, nitpicking aside, the staff did a great job of communicating their interest in us a a group. I don’t have space here to thank them individually, although I could, but I’d also be afraid of missing somebody, so suffice it to say that they all have my thanks, and I believe the thanks of all the attendees.
If you are interested in seeing the event, they’ve posted some great pics here:
rAVe Rental [and Staging] contributor Joel R. Rollins, CTS-R, is General Manager of Everett Hall Associates, Inc. and is well known throughout the professional AV industry for his contributions to industry training and his extensive background in AV rental, staging and installation. Joel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org