POV: It's a Wrap! A Year-End Review
Jan 1, 2005 12:00 PM, By Don Guzauckas Jr., CTS
The International Communications Industries Association is a great and diverse organization I feel honored to have worked with over the past four years. As the outgoing chairman of the ICIA Rental and Staging Council, I believe that we, as a group, have accomplished quite a lot and stand to continue that work through the upcoming year.
The council has provided a platform for the discussion of hot topics like hotel exclusivity, education in the industry, and insurance issues. These issues have been addressed from both sides in print and in public over the last few years. If you are an AV rental or staging company, ICIA is one of the only places that your voice can be heard on these and other topics. The hotel exclusivity issue continues to fester, but our attention to it has brought many articles and comments. By bringing this issue into the open, we have educated our customers so they can make better decisions. It's up to you and your business to decide if that is good or bad.
The council has also created tools for business. We have a boilerplate rental contract available to ICIA members that can be used to update your current contract, or as a reference to make sure your contract has all bases covered. We have a cross-rental database that is free. Members can post their inventory online for other members to find and cross-rent. Our industry is small, and it is good to know we can go to other parts of the country and be helped by what might otherwise be called competition.
The AV industry as a whole is misunderstood and underestimated. In North America alone, we collectively make more than $19 billion in revenue annually, but there is little understanding of where that money comes from or goes to. There are surveys and financial information available about some of the industry, and with the help of our members, we are beginning to establish regular surveys specific to the rental and staging industry. This information can help us understand more about our businesses and get better backing from banks as we grow.
The council is also working with ICIA's AVolution industry awareness campaign and other ICIA member councils to create informational documents for our clients. These documents might include information such as the how-to's of planning an event or meeting, understanding technology, or other AV considerations.
We are working more closely with manufacturers to provide a channel of communication. This includes an AV Rental “design consideration” manufacturers can refer to when developing new products that might be targeted to the rental industry. Members will also have opportunities to beta test products for select manufacturers in the near future. (Beta testers will be selected by the manufacturers, not the council.)
Education of our members is very important. Up until a few years ago, AV was something that was grown into, not learned. How many of us are part of this industry because of a detour on a different career path? There are now college degrees available in AV technology. While few of us take the time to attend these courses, they offer great potential for the future. But there is also a need for ongoing education in rental and staging. Together with the ICIA Professional Education and Training Committee (PETC), we hope to establish more rental-based education offered annually at InfoComm. We hope to update the specialized CTS-Rental certification to give members an upward path as they mature in the industry. Business and management, lighting and rigging, and streaming technologies are all rental industry tracks we are looking to promote. We have also joined the great people at ESTA, who are working on certification programs that are perfect for our industry.
There is so much work that needs to be done and we have done so little. If you are not actively involved, this is the time to jump on the train. You are more than welcome.
Don Guzauckas, Jr., CTS,is the outgoing chairman of ICIA's Rental and Staging Council. He is also general manager of HB Group. For information on membership of ICIA or its Rental and Staging Council, firstname.lastname@example.org.