2021/2022 Tent and Event Trade Shows Survey Results

Post-pandemic ARA, MATRA and IFAI Show Trends Emerge

Last week Tent OX asked tent and event professionals from across the nation to weigh in on their trade show plans for Fall and into January of 2022. Results now in indicate that the American Rental Association’s The Rental Show, normally held in February, may see fewer tent and event company attendees than normal.

Here, totaled by percentages, in calendar order, are the plans tent and event companies across the USA have made for 2021’s ARA show and the Manufacturers and Tent Renters Association MATRA The Tent Show, as well as 2022’s IFAI Tent Expo. Later in the article we introduce a show in January by the California Rental Association (CRA), an organization for Southwest and West Coast tent and event companies, as it celebrates its 75th anniversary.

American Rental Association (ARA) The Rental Show, Oct 17-21, Las Vegas, Nevada.

44% YES, going to the show

55% NO not going

Manufacturers and Tent Renters Association (MATRA) The Tent Show 2021, November 8-11, Uncasville, Connecticut

60% YES going to the show

40% NO, not going

IFAI Tent EXPO, January 18-20, 2022, Daytona Beach, Florida

48% YES, going to the show

52% NO, not going.

Yes votes for the ARA show in mid-October included responses like:

  • Feel this is still the best overall show. Covers just about everything related to my business.
  • Best place to see everything together.
  • Great show, love seeing the updates in our industry.
  • ARA Show is the trade show for anyone in rental.
  • My boss goes every year. This is where she gets all the fun new toys for us to test and see if they would work well with our company.
  • Attend to not only look at tents but other event needs.

But the ARA show’s unique-for-this-year October date sits at the end of one of the busiest parts of the tenting season. That fact may explain why this show had the highest percentage of NOs:

  • Would love to go but will be far too busy here.
  • The current labor crisis and the return of business has created an “all hands-on deck” scenario for our team.
  • October is too busy for us.
  • It is just too far, and we will be at the tail end of our busy season.
  • Plan on being busy with work and not having enough employees to cover the workload.
  • Bad timing. Coincides with our largest event.

Brandon Sayre of Ohio Tables and Chairs, in Columbus, Ohio, echoes the thoughts of many when he says, “We usually go to ARA, but it being in October kind of killed it for us. That’s a very busy time for weddings and Fall events. I understand why they moved it, but then they aren’t holding it in February of 2022. We would really like to go to something, and we are thinking of the MATRA show in November, in Connecticut.”

Companies sited closer to Las Vegas were enthusiastic about attending ARA in October. For us, yes, it’s proximity,” said Jim Barton of Big AZ Tents, of Phoenix, Arizona. “We had a good year, so I’m planning on taking a total of eight people including employees and their wives.”

MATRA’s The Tent Show, which has evolved from a regional event into a more national show, inspired these comments in favor of attending in early November:

  • Close, good timing.
  • To inspire and reward tent crew for their hard work.
  • Great connections are made at this show.
  • Support the industry.
  • MATRA is more targeted and productive than other trade shows.
  • Want to see more on the industry
  • Have never attended and have heard good things about this show.
  • Best show.

Reasons for not going varied:

  • November is still busy for us.
  • Have never been, always have wanted to go.
  • Too far to travel and looking at attending in the future!
  • Can get cold in Minnesota without going to CT.
  • Too busy, not enough employees.
  • Football season is the busiest time of year for us.
  • Going to ARA in October.
  • Still a TBD.

Reasons for attending this January show included:

  • Good time of year to attend tradeshow
  • Education
  • New members, we want to see what it’s all about.
  • Education and a good time.
  • Support the industry.
  • Best show for tent companies.
  • Second best show.
  • We attend one big show a year. IFAI is this year’s choice.

Typical comments accompanying NO votes included:

  • We are unsure at this time – would love to attend, but not sure whether budget, pandemic conditions, nor labor will allow.
  • Really on the fence on this one. If I go it will be to hang out with my BAG group friends.
  • Only going to ARA and MATRA.
  • Never considered this show.
  • Not at the moment. I would like more information.
  • Am considering but it is really a duplicate of MATRA with more expense.
  • Just doing two shows this year.

Jim Barton of Big AZ Tents in Phoenix – mentioned earlier – added this about MATRA and IFAI: “Until Scott Pickel from Tent OX came by in April during his Spring Tour, I wasn’t aware of what the MATRA name stood for, though I’d seen the logo. We also joined IFAI just three months ago. We’ve been growing since we opened in 2011, and we’re still learning like everyone is. These organizations can help us become stronger on the tent side of our rental operation. When we were filling out the survey, that helped us decide to attend these shows.”

California Rental Association’s January 24 – 26 event, at the South Point Casino Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, was included in the survey, but as it is more regional than the other shows, we didn’t have enough responses from the Southwest and West Coast to include meaningful YES and NO numbers. Here are some of the comments regarding the show:

  • Feel this is a good show to start of the year with and get any early orders done along with seeing people from the industry.
  • Too far a local show.
  • Undecided.
  • I’m from MA. Not sure what CRA is. Is this California? Or Canada?
  • Yes. I like partying in Vegas.
  • I’m not sure on attendance.

Finally, we asked if there were any other events people were planning to attend. Two respondents brought up the Toptec Tent School December 7-9, 2021 in Moore, SC.

Share your opinion

It’s not too late to share your opinion and join in the conversation about tent-related trade shows for ’21-’22! Email scottp@tentox.com  to share your plans to attend (or not attend) any of these upcoming shows or ask another question that we can help answer. It’s our pleasure to offer insight and facilitate discussion within the tent and event rental community!