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Rental Essentials: For 2015, It's Ready, Set, Rent! Photo by Natanael Ginting / © Getty Images

Rental Essentials: For 2015, It's Ready, Set, Rent!

Some 79 percent of party and event rental experts predict a good year in 2015, according to the latest research from Special Events magazine

How much has the rental industry rebounded since the Great Recession? Consider this: For 2009, only 37 percent said they expected a better year than the year prior. But for 2015, a stunning 79 percent say this year will beat last. And a statistic that is probably even more remarkable, nearly half of respondents say they will raise prices this year—the highest such figure in the last 10 years. The rental forecast is conducted annually by Penton Research exclusively for Special Events.

The improving economy has brought an improvement in the attitude toward special events, notes Damon Holditch, CSEP, CERP, president of Austin, Texas-based Marquee Event Group.

"Clients are ready to celebrate after too many years of 'political correctness' not to celebrate," he says.

GOING UP And the rental industry can celebrate, too, with a strong justification—after all these years--to raise fees. A total of 49 percent of respondents say they are raising prices this year—the highest figure in the last 10 years of the Special Events forecast.

"It has been nearly four years since we initiated a price increase, and I believe the time has come to adjust a few of them again because of cost increases and labor increases," says Dan Hooks, CERP, president of Party Reflections, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. "I see this as an opportunity because I think the market is ready for it, and those who have survived the economy over the last several years deserve to get paid for what they are doing and the sacrifices that many of them made to stay in business."

Part of the reason party rental companies must raise rates is the need to offer new inventory. Offering cutting-edge inventory is a rental essential; 79 percent of respondents to this year's forecast say "adding new inventory" will be their No. 1 strategy for success.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE CORT Event Furnishings is ready to do just that. "Based on customer feedback, the biggest opportunity we see is providing rental products that incorporate power and charging into the furnishings," says Kevin Dana, director of marketing and product development for CORT Event Furnishings, based in South San Francisco, Calif. "We’ve addressed powered needs throughout our entire collection in 2015--from soft seating to bar and conference tables, pedestals and lamps. We believe our clients are going to be very excited about our 2015 product introductions in an ongoing effort to exceed our customer expectations."

But feeding the "got to have the new stuff" beast will be a challenge. Purchasing and maintaining inventories of highly stylized products will be a hurdle in the year, says Jennifer Iovino, marketing director of Woburn, Mass.-based Peterson Party Center. "With so many new design directions it will be challenging to 'have it all,'" she notes ...

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