Special Events

Editor's Page on Pulling Rank

Renewing a magazine subscription brought The Economist's “Pocket World in Figures” to my home, and I haven't looked at life the same way since. It's a slim little book that ranks the countries on scores of different measures, from worldwide economic clout to the number of hospital beds per head. Because I can't stop myself, I look at almost all the rankings in terms of special events.

You need to work “green” if your event takes you to New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom; these countries have the most environmentally sensitive policies worldwide.

Come up with high-tech approaches to events if you work for American, Finnish, Taiwanese, Swedish or Japanese firms; they top the “innovation index,” showing how quickly companies adapt to new technology. And stock the bar for your German, Czech, Danish, Australian and Finnish guests — they're the biggest drinkers.

In this issue, we present the 10th edition of our annual look at the top event rental companies ranked by volume. As it has in years past, Classic Party Rentals still leads the pack.

When I research this list each year, I sometimes hear rental executives complain that I'm focusing on the wrong thing — that big doesn't necessarily mean best. And in many ways, they're right. A business can serve clients well, treat its employees well and make a nice margin, yet never cross the revenue threshold that would land them on our list.

Even if such companies aren't on this particular list, rest assured that Special Events will cover them in our articles, giving them and their admirable work the exposure and acclaim they deserve.

What this list and others like it do, however, is give all of us some perspective on our business as a whole. The 2000 list still had Classic at the top — but with four outlets and $26 million in revenue, compared with 26 outlets and $300 million today.

Would anyone have predicted such massive changes in our business? The interest in special events goes far beyond reality TV shows about outrageous brides and bratty Sweet 16 girls. Now, the investment community is excited about the world of events, regarding it as a business ready to go on growing.

Consider, too, what Classic president and CEO John Campanelli says he and his team look for in potential acquisitions. “The best company is more important than the biggest company,” he tells us in this month's “Guest Room” — “although in many cases, they are both.”

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