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SOI: Rental industry poised for steady growth in 2024

Part 3 in our annual State of the Industry (SOI) report

Above photo courtesy Ken Pak Photography. Planning & Design by Bellwether Events


The event rental industry is leveling out. There isn’t a clear consensus that business is booming—or that business is struggling. The American Rental Association (ARA) 2023 Q2 Economic Impact Survey shows 54% of members expected an increase in revenue in Q3, while 46% expected a decrease. Based on these numbers, it seems the state of the industry is more dependent on location than it has been in the past few years. There are certain factors that remain constant throughout the country, though. The high cost of doing business, the high cost of labor, and the challenges that plague the supply chain are still very present. 

So, what do you need to know about the industry as a special event professional? Costs are increasing everywhere, and rental is no exception to that. You might see rental companies raising prices to compensate for their costs going up. That might mean you start raising prices on your end, start communicating to customers that a price increase may be coming, or wait to see what happens. If you choose the latter, your rental partner can work with you to provide as much notice as possible. Communication is the key to a great working relationship, so rental companies are happy to dive into these important conversations. 

Increased focus on relationships

Relationships and communication are important when it comes to timing as well. As we head into 2024, obstacles still remain with rental items getting delayed in shipping. Supply chain speed and tightening budgets will require open communication between event planners and event rental partners. So, if you think you need 150 chairs, but that number might change, communicate that. If there’s a chance that you’ll need more than 150 chairs, it’s much easier for the rental store to order a higher number up front rather than scrambling to secure extra later. Instead of risking a fiasco and creating a difficult situation, make it a point to communicate these details up front. 

Cultivating a relationship with a preferred rental store can also reap business benefits. A close relationship might also mean collaborating with the rental store to order new items. Maybe you now have a consistent need for outdoor lounge furniture, umbrellas, tent heaters, or something else entirely. The point is this—if you’ll rent it, your rental partner will probably stock it. You just have to ask. This is particularly true as trends come and go and event planning professionals are at the forefront of trends. 

What’s trending 

The pandemic brought outdoor events to the forefront, and they’ve remained popular over the last few years. Whatever look is desired in a venue, an event rental business can create it from the ground up using a tent, flooring, climate control, lighting, and more—no matter the season. 

It’s an exciting shift as clients are looking for one-of-a-kind experiences. Creativity is encouraged and clients are more apt to infuse fun, take risks with décor, favor unique flair, and more. Rental businesses are following the trends that include incorporating technology and leveling up décor for a maximalist feel.

Event rental is all about being on top of the trends to meet demand and event rental businesses are very open to hearing about what’s popular. They may also have ideas to help planning professionals meet client requests, whether it’s a theme, specific hue, or unique flair that is in demand. 

Prioritizing sustainability

The importance of sustainable practices is on the rise in every aspect of our lives, and that includes events. Fortunately, the rental industry itself is inherently sustainable. Sharing the same resources with others, instead of each person buying those resources individually, reduces overall consumption. If a client is resolute in regard to sustainability, renting is a major benefit. 

For corporate events, rental companies are finding they oftentimes have sustainability goals or standards. Sustainable practices can be brought into any event to meet the client’s specific wants and needs. That might translate to replacing items with more sustainable rental options such as bamboo flooring in place of carpet. Other options could include open-air tents to reduce energy costs and the use of more efficient LED lighting. The selection of sustainable options depends on the level and specificity of the client’s sustainability goals. 

Looking ahead to 2024

The rental industry is steady, regardless of the ongoing challenges many companies are facing today. The ARA expects a favorable year ahead for the industry as a whole, especially when rental companies can strengthen and perfect their partnerships with event professionals.

This article is part of a series where we take an in-depth look at the state of the event industry. 
View Part 1
View Part 2

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