Like pretty much every industry sector in the UK (and globally), the event hire sector was ravaged by COVID. Events, festivals and other occasions simply didn’t take place and, by nature of the factor that this sector supplies these events, the work dried up. Of course, the Government’s furlough scheme helped to a certain extent, but some large companies in the UK event hire sector simply closed the doors. The UK events business went from being worth over £40 billion per year to almost zero overnight. Being in the event hire business, therefore, was simply not sustainable.
Of course, the effects of COVID from a financial point of view are still being felt. And some of these have a knock-on effect to other areas of operations. Below, we take a look at some of the challenges (and solutions) facing the event hire industry in the UK today. Many of these, of course, will not be specific to this sector, but some most definitely are.
The return to events after COVID
For those who lost loved ones during COVID, everything will still be raw. However, for many, it’s almost now like a bad dream. People were simply not able to do what they wanted to do. Now that they can, people have been attending events and festivals in greater numbers than ever. There’s a thirst amongst the public to get back to ‘normal’, whilst festival and event organisers have been promising bigger and better! There’s no doubt that this is great, especially for companies involved in the events sector, after a couple of years of inactivity. That said, with some event hire companies closing during COVID, it means that more workload is being required from fewer companies. The challenge is certainly on – especially when you consider some of the other points below!
With bigger events taking place, this means that more staff than ever are required to fulfil responsibilities when it comes to catering event equipment hire, furniture, AV, security and so on – in fact, any element that is required for a temporary event. Are these increased staff levels always available? Especially as some key people would have departed the industry during COVID. The best event hire companies ensure that they retain their best staff and, when extra manpower is required, can use third party crewing companies – a solution that is always in demand.
We all know that the cost of living is on the rise and has been for some time, with fuel one of the main drivers of this. The war in Ukraine is pushing up the price of fuel at the pumps, and this is the same for not just for the public, but also for companies. Temporary events rely on equipment being transported around the country, and the more fuel that is required, the more expensive the job becomes. The solution for event professionals is to find an event hire company that has nationwide coverage, with hubs around the country – this, therefore, reduces transport costs.
In a similar vein to fuel, the cost of gas and electricity is also at an all-time high. Event hire companies need to ensure that their equipment is clean and in good working order all the time. Whether it’s electrical testing or power required to run industrial-sized cleaning machines for event catering hire jobs, it seems to be getting increasingly expensive to operate, with no immediate sign of abating!
This is the buzzword on everyone’s lips at the moment, and sustainability should be at the heart of every company’s plans. The challenge for the event hire industry is how to operate as sustainability as possible, considering that there is often a lot of short notice job requirements and kit has to be transported quickly, safely and efficiently. Whether it’s trying to reduce the amount of pallet shrink wrap, or moving towards a fully electric-powered fleet of trucks, this challenge has to be met head on!
The events industry at large is seasonal. January to March are typically quiet months, with the industry springing into life in April, and going at full tilt through to September. After that, there’s a bit of a lull through to November, when the Christmas parties start! Event hire companies need to ensure they are using the time in the quieter periods to good effect, whether this is stock takes, internal processes and other ways to improve their businesses.
Demand & supply
When the peak seasons hit, it’s incredibly busy for all companies within this sector. Stock can rapidly run out, customers can be let down and orders cannot be fulfilled for corporate event equipment hire and more. However, with careful planning and an experienced management team, almost any issue can be resolved!
Standing out in the market
For any business, brand awareness and reputation is crucial in order to succeed. For companies in the event hire sector, this sometimes get pushed down the priority order, especially in busy times. Every customer-facing activity for the business needs to be on-point, as every interaction with a customer reflects you as a brand and company.
Consistency of service
With these peaks in the year, it’s all too easy for event hire companies to lose consistency. By this, we mean service levels and customer interactions. Everyone is busy, but consistency of service is all important for customers. Your customer needs to feel as though they are your ONLY customer!
And finally, the great British weather is one of those challenges that no one can do anything about. The summer of 2018 was a complete washout, but the summer of 2022 was one of the driest on record. When it has been raining over a long period of time, the ground becomes soft, and trucks delivering and collecting equipment to and from festival and event sites can be hindered by the mud – it’s certainly a problem that event hire companies could do without!
Hopefully the above information has given you an idea of the challenges facing many event hire companies in the UK today. This sector, working behind the scenes to help produce world-class events in this country, is incredibly valuable, and will hopefully continue to flourish after the COVID years.