Event Rental Insider: Shifting the focus from people to products online
By James Auerbach
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Event Rental Insider: Shifting the focus from people to products online

Re-educating the industry and customers on social media

The special events industry was one of the first to embrace social media as a way to showcase spectacular weddings, corporate galas and events of all sizes. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and many other online social media platforms were filled with memorable images of social and corporate events featuring brides, wedding parties, guests at galas and people celebrating life’s important moments.

That, however, was before the pandemic. Almost overnight, with mandated gathering restrictions, most of the events just stopped. For more than a year, there was a drastic reduction of social media posts featuring live events. At the same time, the special events industry experienced massive staffing turnover as many employees were forced to seek employment elsewhere and change careers to survive.

Tim Dodd, president, Atlanta Party Rentals & Sales, Atlanta, says this shifted the company’s social media strategy.

“Prior to the pandemic we featured content that focused on people in beautiful settings with our rental equipment. As we came out of the pandemic, we found that many of the industry partners that we had worked closely with for years at venues, caterers and planning companies had moved on from the industry and been replaced with new employees. Our marketing focus shifted to showcasing our products to reintroduce the wide variety of rental products we had available to our key partners,” Dodd says.

This same scenario has played out across the event rental industry with many companies using social media as a tool to quickly remind both industry partners and the public of what they have to offer. Andrew Owens, vice president of operations, Clements Tent Rentals, Warsaw, Va., agrees.

“Today, the focus for us on social media is showcasing the unique products Clements Tent Rentals offers. We have also started incorporating more videos showing full event installs to increase regional awareness of our capabilities,” Owens says.

Lea Melone, director of marketing, Eventworks, Charleston, S.C., echoes this strategy. “Social media is an important way we connect with clients by highlighting our new inventory and products to inspire usage. People who are newer in the industry might be learning about the wide range of rental options Eventworks has available for the first time. We also showcase the longevity and experience of our team,” Melone says.

Social media also has assisted with the challenges many companies have faced sourcing quality candidates for employment. Previously, LinkedIn was not a main focus for Eventworks, but post-pandemic, it has become a valuable way for the company to attract potential new employees.

“We have been able to take advantage of LinkedIn to display the values and culture that we are very proud of at Eventworks. This has generated interest from candidates looking to get into the events industry,” Melone says.

For Signature Party Rentals, Santa Ana, Calif., social media historically was not a priority. The company had experienced many years of steady growth based on their positive reputation and strong word-of-mouth. However, leadership at the company realized that many customers in the region and beyond were unaware of Signature’s capabilities. Just prior to the pandemic, Signature increased its activity on social media to specifically increase awareness of the company’s wide range of rental products and services available.

“Throughout the pandemic, and continuing today, social media has become an important way we showcase the unique offerings and capabilities that differentiate Signature from other vendors in the market,” says Jason Davis, general manager.

“For example, many customers never knew that Signature was able to provide full-service event rentals and services beyond the Santa Ana area. Flash-forward two years and we are now regularly installing jobs all over the region and beyond,” Davis says.

Based on the success of their current efforts, the company plans to continue to grow their internal marketing team, while also working with external vendors.

Laura Rupp, marketing director, Marquee Event Rentals, Chicago, says brand awareness has been the key social media focus for the company coming out of the pandemic.

“We are re-educating the public on what event rental companies have to offer. Social media is a very effective tool to accomplish this. Many people have moved out of events and brand-new people have taken their place. Due to this turnover, we are at times building relationships all over again with many of the traditional event industry partners, many who are learning for the first time about the wide range of rental products available,” Rupp says.

“Post-pandemic, showcasing our unique and extensive inventory for our event industry partners has become even more of a focus,” she says. “Everyone is rebounding and we feel that it is very important to do this together and support the industry.” 

James Auerbach

James AuerbachJames Auerbach

James Auerbach joined the ARA in November 2020 after spending the past 25 years in the event rental, event planning/production, and hospitality industries. During his career, he managed businesses of various sizes from small owner-operated companies to large corporate or private equity-owned businesses. When he’s not working to support the event rental industry, Auerbach loves spending time with his wife, two kids, and two small dogs — Bella and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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