The respondents to Special Events Magazine's 11th annual "30 Top Event Rental Companies" list predict an 8 percent boost in revenue this year, but the forecast for 2009 is not so rosy.
A roster of "mega events" this year--ranging from the Summer Olympics in Beijing to the U.S. presidential election--has brought in business. Even the "bad news" events--Hurricanes Ike and Gustav--have turned into revenue for rental companies supplying structures and generators.
Yet the outlook for 2009 is clouded by the dramatic news from the financial sector, which in September brought word of colossal bank failures and the prospect of a $700 billion bailout funded by U.S. taxpayers to shore up the credit market.
To some respondents, the possibility that fuel costs will stick stubbornly high will be the true party-crasher next year. When asked what is renting well for its operation, management at Orlando, Fla.-based Kirby Rentals jokes, "High-end linen, glassed-in tents--anything that doesn't use fuel!"
Some rental leaders are already seeing a slowdown. "The party for 1,500 employees has become the understated event for 150 executives," says management of Atlanta-based Event Rentals Unlimited. Yet the team still expects growth next year--albeit not the double-digit figures of recent years. Despite the current rash of bad news, "Moderate growth is achievable," they say.
Some companies on the Special Events list are downright cocky. "Did someone say 'recession'?" asks management of Austin, Texas-based Marquee Event Group. "Not in Texas!" This year, the company has been busy with high-profile events including the opening of the Long Center of the Performing Arts in Austin and "countless" galas and festivals.
For the complete article, see the October issue of Special Events.
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