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The Two Sides of a Booming Market

Live-event staging customer demographics are changing.

The economics of the live event staging market have probably never been better. Before you start grousing about margins on gear or on shows, remember, a growing market cures many ills. Yes, margins are not what they used to be. But what is? Price transparency is everywhere– in every industry, so the good ole days of fat margins will never return.
The fact remains, 2014 was a great year for the industry, and 2015 will be even better. We stand in this industry at the confluence of two major trends– increasing sophistication and specialization of top staging companies, and a broadening out of event “technology” to include apps and other tools that come from other sectors. And there is no better way to illustrate the two trends, than by looking at the two different market approaches of our two Rental & Staging columnists: Les Goldberg and Midori Connolly. They could not be more different. Les is well-known as being at the pinnacle of big-stage, big production staging. Think Super Bowl halftime shows. Huge screens. Big LED walls. Big gun projectors. Midori works the other end of the scale– the new arena where it’s more about interactive audience participation, apps that link smartphones to what’s going on on stage, games, and social media applications that bring the younger corporate event attendees into the event.
Both Les and Midori are at the top of their game, and tuned in to what’s going on in the market. Sure, we’d all love it if all shows were about huge screens, huge projection. Big budgets the likes of the Super Bowl. But we can’t ignore the trend toward using more portable, app-based technology in live events. Midori is tuned into the need to be not just a stager, but an “experience designer”. “Think less about a grandiose display,” says Midori in her looking-ahead-at-2015 column this month, “and more of a 360 degree experience.”
Wait a minute—we’re stagers, we love those “grandiose displays!” Shouldn’t we be upselling everyone to more and more grandiose AV? Sure. When the budget is there, go for it. And Midori would be the first one to encourage you to upsell those prospects. But our customer demographics are changing. In fact you have to do both: create the kind of sophisticated and equipment-rich team of experts in your company that can ensure success at the high end, and also be ready to set aside preconceived notions of what a constitutes an event experience and be ready to provide new tools for the younger more engaging audience that increasingly make up the end-user profile.

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