Fair game?

Event organisers are reporting an unfair hike in prices for large screen on key weekends during the World Cup…

According to event organisers, big screen companies are increasing their rental prices for World Cup weekends. Is it fair that suppliers are increasing prices for World Cup weekend events? Should they keep prices static for key customers or is supply and demand just something that has to be accepted?

For the past 12 months, organisers have been hacking down prices, squeezing suppliers’ profit margins: Is this an opportunity for suppliers to make some money back, as reports suggest that rental prices have increased by 25 per cent?

Katie Lay, business development manager at Screenhire, suggests that the events marketplace remains in a situation where there is still no clear plan for 2010.

“We have pushed our prices up a little but only by £20 per panel, nothing horrific. If you rip someone off and they know you’ve ripped them off, long-term it doesn’t give customers a good feeling.

“Our ongoing client list will be serviced first then clients who will be great for us working forwards and then the smaller one-off events. Under normal terms and conditions, it’s first come, first served and so we have a list of our regular customers and we’ve been ringing them first.”

Lay explains that over the last 12 months, suppliers have been winning business because they have been prepared to drop their prices. Moving forward, that situation may be spun on its head as June 11 approaches.

Without doubt fan parks and fan zones will be popping up across the country as football fever encroaches. According to Lay, sponsored fan zones are a tricky proposition for a business if a sponsor pulls out. Suppliers are left chasing a ghost despite signed purchase orders, but never has there been a stronger case for solid working and long-standing relationships with clients where this is not an issue.

Oliver Brindley, ADI Group’s marketing manager, is currently questioning some people’s motives for hiring an LED screen and technology: “There is a difference when the screen is the event and not part of the event.”

Brindley states that there are people within the market that are simply out to make a quick buck – hiring screens to make money and funding it with advertising. And in the last four to six months, ADI has seen a large number of enquiries.

“We’ve had to be upfront with customers and tell them to book their screens ASAP. Long-term customers have been informed months beforehand of demand and we’ve been sympathetic to organisers that have had their events booked for over a year. It’s simple: The earlier you book you get the better deal. Those leaving it to the last minute will pay the price.”

ADI’s fleet of 100-metre screens is fully booked, yet Brindley explains that it is pulling out all the stops to make sure that it has stock available.

“There are still organisers out there who have not decided what they want and the market is still dithering. We have pockets where we have availability but we also have several customers looking at each date. It’s a very finite market.”

Ian Walker, managing director of Fonix LED, explains that it is shipping additional screen stock from its partner in the Middle East to service the additional work produced by the sporting occasion. Stringent planning has resulted in the shipping of sufficient volume and as a result, Fonix LED has not had to increase prices for sourcing extra stock.

“The extra stock will be used on specific projects. The orders we are receiving specifically for the football are great but we can’t neglect our regular clients and they are always key.

“At the end of the day, anyone is a client and you have to service them but organisers who want a screen for the whole period are going to struggle. We will have a lot of screen out during the World Cup, more than any other June before, and we are able to move screens about but it won’t be long before there’s not much screen left.”