Federal Bailout Rules To Kill Rental/Staging Market?

By Joel Rollins, CTS-R


Folks, I’ve been in the middle of writing an article for this issue on show control systems (one of my favorite subjects) when something crossed my desk I thought we in the rental industry would all find important.

It’s a communication from the President of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) about the potential effects of the TARP legislation on the meetings industry. It seems that one of the prohibitions that will be placed on companies that receive TARP (federal bailout) funds will severely restrict the meetings that are held by these companies, and the expenses associated with them.

As we all have heard, the initial recipients of these funds include the banking, financial and automotive industries, some of the largest clients for rental and staging projects. While I, like most Americans, feel that the use of TARP funds for lavish bonuses, excessive salaries, private jets and luxury junkets should be prohibited, this legislation has the potential to severely harm to people in the lodging, exhibit, audio visual and catering industries, along with all the suppliers to them. The bill’s prohibitions would require that executives of these companies certify that they are tightly controlling meeting expenses. As with any legislation that requires federal scrutiny of a particular class of expenses, my personal fear is that many events will be cancelled or severely reduced to avoid federal audits of the expenses, whether legitimate or not.

I am enormously proud of the vital role that those of us in the industry play in the world’s economy, and I feel that the powerful communications methods we bring to bear will help our clients work their way out of the mess they’re in. And I believe that the importance of that role will be seen by our government provided we, as an informed industry, participate in the process of recovery from our current economic plight.

Accordingly, members of the travel industry have issued an industry statement, which follows (BUT READ ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM, BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO DO SOMETHING!):

American Workers, Local Communities Unintended Victims of Cuts in Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel Programs
Travel Community to Issue “Best Practice Standards” to Corporate America

Washington, D.C. — Leaders from key organizations representing the travel, meetings and events industries today issued the following statement regarding federal government efforts to curtail meetings, events and incentive travel programs among companies that have received emergency government lending:

“Americans expect Congress and the Obama Administration to responsibly and effectively oversee the use of taxpayer dollars to companies receiving emergency government lending. Americans also expect the business community and elected leaders to protect jobs and help the country rebound as quickly as possible from the current economic crisis.”

“We are extremely concerned about the unintended consequences of unnecessarily restricting corporate meetings, events and incentive travel programs. Business-related travel generates 2.4 million American jobs, $244 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level. State and local governments rely on this revenue to fund basic government programs such as education, health care and unemployment insurance.”

“At a time when the Department of Labor reports a loss of nearly 200,000 travel related jobs in 2008 and U.S. Commerce Department data predicts a loss of an additional 247,000 travel related jobs in 2009, elected officials and corporate America must take a thoughtful approach to managing the use of taxpayer dollars. Prudent organizations already have in-place travel and meeting management policies that ensure an effective return on investment for stakeholders. In the coming days, the travel, meetings and events industries will provide the business community with additional standards for meetings, events and incentives that demand transparency and accountability.”

“Travelers are an important solution to the economic problems that ail our country. The travel community looks forward to working with America’s elected leaders and businesses to ensure that we keep America moving.”

  • American Hotel and Lodging Association
  • Destination Marketing Association International
  • Meeting Professionals International
  • National Business Travel Association
  • Professional Convention Management Association
  • Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE)
  • U.S. Travel Association

# # #

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $740 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel’s mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States.

In addition, I’m posting more information on our blog, including this statement and MPI’s letter, as well as any communications I get from our own trade associations like InfoComm and NSCA. So here’s what I’d like you to do: post your own thoughts, ideas and opinions on this subject, and I’ll send a summary of them to all the appropriate industry and government officials.


(and, for a change, without a line array)


rAVe Rental [and Staging] contributor Joel R. Rollins, CTS-R, is General Manager of Everett Hall Associates, Inc. and is well known throughout the professional AV industry for his contributions to industry training and his extensive background in AV rental, staging and installation. Joel can be reached at Joel can be reached at joelrollins@mac.com