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Reps from aerial-lift supplier Snorkel chat with an attendee in the ARA Show's outdoor exhibit space at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Raising the (Exhibit Hall) Roof

The American Rental Association’s annual event in October used plenty of outdoor space to keep participants safer, along with gamification to keep them moving between the indoor and outdoor show areas.

After shifting its annual event from New Orleans in February to Las Vegas in October, the American Rental Association was able to hold its 2021 ARA Show in person. But with the specter of the Covid virus still hanging over the business-events industry, the association made adjustments to make attendees feel safe and comfortable while still encouraging them to interact with exhibitors as much as possible.

AM1121AraShowVegas4.pngARA’s October 18-20 trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center used 292,000 square feet of exhibit space to host 600 construction-equipment and event-rental suppliers plus nearly 6,000 attendees. One way that ARA minimized the possibility of Covid transmission—and allowed some of its exhibitors to have more room to demonstrate their unique machinery—was to use an outdoor parking lot at the convention center that provided nearly 50,000 square feet for exhibit space (pictured here) and for late-afternoon social events (pictured below).

AM1121ARAshowVegas2.pngBut to make sure attendees made their way through the convention center to the outdoor spaces, ARA’s event-planning team held for the first time a “booth chase” with a $2,500 prize for one qualifying attendee. To participate, attendees had to download the event’s app, enabling them to scan 10 QR codes: one from each booth of the show’s eight platinum-level sponsors; one from either of the two ARA booths, and one from a kiosk at the entrance to the outdoor exhibit area. One the week after the show, ARA randomly selected one winner from attendees who collected all 10 QR codes.

Another way ARA kept attendees moving throughout the entire show floor was through a “daily-step challenge” where attendees could go up against Wayne Walley, editor of the ARA publication Rental Management. On the second day of the trade show, Walley logged 25,292 steps—more than 10 miles of walking. Any attendee who beat that number for the day would have a donation to the ARA Foundation made in their name, on behalf of Walley.

Screen Shot 2021-11-03 at 12.23.10 PM.pngThree attendees were able to log more steps than Walley on day two of the show, while a handful of others came close. As a result, Walley announced the week after the show that he would make a donation on behalf of the top 20 step-takers who competed—a positive gesture for the association’s foundation, but also an opportunity for post-show communication to potential attendees of future ARA events.
Some products simply cannot be demonstrated in an exhibit hall, such as a 210-foot-tall lift:
Screen Shot 2021-11-03 at 12.25.45 PM.png

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