Logistics at satis&fy, credit: Anna Imm Photography ©
Logistics in itself is a complex series of processes that are a vital part of the supply chain in our everyday lives, and it plays just as an integral role in the event industry. With so many moving parts (pun intended) involved, event logistics is not immune to being impacted by outside forces, as we have seen in the not-so-distant past. In the current economic and political climate of 2023 event logistics professionals find themselves, once again, in a difficult position.
With the Covid-19 pandemic fading into recent memory, interest in hosting live, in-person events has returned with celebratory gusto. Yet, despite easing domestic and international travel restrictions, the event production market faces new challenges that threaten to disrupt events of all shapes and sizes.
The response to the ongoing war in Ukraine is driving rising European gas and energy prices, leading to general inflationary pressures and global commodity cost hikes. Unsurprisingly, this difficult economic situation has become a cause for concern within the industry. With the cost of running events rising and a tough geopolitical landscape impacting trade, how can our clients and us, industry players continue planning events with confidence?
To prepare for the road ahead, let us dive into the event logistics landscape and look at how event production companies are adapting to ensure that events remain successful and profitable in 2023 and beyond.
What is event logistics?
From the event technology suppliers’ point of view, event logistics comprises of the various stages of planning, management and execution of transportation and storage of services that support an event’s operations. For AV providers, however, logistics goes much deeper than simply arranging for thing and people to get from A to B in an organized manner; event logistics includes warehouse management, keeping track of all the event production company’s rental gear at all times, making sure that equipment, crew, and materials are allocated and safely delivered to the location of an event, and of course the work that takes place during the event itself to support its as-planned operations.
So how do event production companies manage their logistics?
Managing event logistics can be a stressful and unforgiving job. Ensuring that budgets remain intact, preparing for equipment failures, delivery delays or unforeseen circumstances is hardcoded into the professional manual.
Once contracted for the job, all of that rests on the shoulder of your AV provider. For the events they deliver, upon the client’s request our member companies around the world offer a complete range of event logistics services. To make sure that everything runs like clockwork, each AV Alliance member has a dedicated team that is responsible for each event’s logistics operations while keeping a close eye on the costs – even in challenging times.
Disruptions in the supply chain
Such challenging times now mean war in Europe, the looming threat of global recession, and skyrocketing inflation. The current fuel and energy crisis is not just affecting us as private individuals and our cost of living, it is causing serious issues across almost all industries. Sky-high electricity bills are putting homes and businesses in an ever tighter spot, and they are not only impacting the operation of greenhouses, for example, but also that of warehouses. Delays in the supply chain have been combined with empty store shelves and disgruntled car dealership customers worldwide, and have also impacted the operations of event technology manufacturers, who face long waiting times for crucial spare parts and components for their state-of-the-art equipment. Fuel prices are making the transportation of said equipment to event locations an increasingly expensive procedure for both the audiovisual supplier and ultimately the client.
As we can see, the issues that have already begun to show up in the supply chain during the years of the pandemic are now reaching a crescendo in every sector, including the event industry. The task of making event logistics, especially warehouse and inventory management and transportation more cost-effective is becoming more complex and challenging, but as we like to say, the event industry is resilient and AV providers always manage to find creative, efficient ways to power through.
Let us dive into three major areas of event logistics and see how the current situation is affecting them!
Equipment ready to be transported at the warehouse of AV Alliance member AV Concepts
Warehousing and delivery systems
State-of-the-art warehousing and delivery systems are the guarantee of the safe storage, inventory, and distribution of all the AV equipment that is essential for running events. While many inventory items can be boxed, stacked, and put away, storing AV equipment requires special care and meticulous organization in order to prolong its life
Technical equipment requires secure warehousing and regular maintenance to avoid risking damage, and of course the conditions under which they are kept are also crucial. With hundreds of thousands of pieces of audio gear, LED, lighting fixtures, projectors, cabling, truss etc. sitting in storage, waiting for the next event to be shipped to, warehousing and delivery systems are engineered for efficiency and built to support shipping at any given moment. Our AV Alliance members rent or own warehouses of various sizes, sometimes in multiple locations, and the same is true for all renowned audio visual providers. Just within our global network our members boast a combined warehouse space of more than 350’000 square meters.
The more warehouse space, however, the higher the electricity bill, but one might ask why these massive buildings that are mostly used only for storage need to consume so much energy? Just ask your audio visual provider about the conditions they must keep their AV gear under, and they will name the three biggest enemies of state-of-the-art equipment: fluctuating temperature, moisture, and dust. It is necessary to keep fragile and expensive AV equipment safe and dry in room temperatures, as any fluctuation may generate moisture, which in turn causes corrosion and damage, quickly degrading any gear. To this end, warehouses need to be heated in the winter and cooled down in the summer, and we well know by now that constantly running heating and AC are not exactly budget-friendly necessities in the midst of an energy crisis. Needless to say, the soaring energy and fuel prices are also driving rental cost increase for industrial properties such as warehouses.
It is easy to see that as the economic crunch hits the supply chain, it is becoming more expensive to store, maintain, and transport equipment. Next, let us take a look into the issues around transportation, and how members of the AV Alliance are able to tackle them!
During the pandemic, the transportation supply chain was disrupted by lockdowns, closed borders, travel restrictions, and staggering shortage in available human resources. Along with delays to the general supply of goods, the cost of transporting by sea, air, rail and road increased dramatically.
While the pandemic largely retreated from daily consciousness in 2022, event-related transportation now faces new pressures thanks to the downstream effects of the current global political climate, and the sanctions related to the war in Ukraine that hit European fuel and energy prices particularly hard. While the logistics sector is optimistic about their situation beginning to ease up later in the year, currently there is little sign of fuel prices dropping in early 2023, which once again makes transportation costs a significant source of worry. Especially when long-haul shipping is involved, logistics companies in general will need to explore alternative solutions to reduce transportation expenses.
It is clear that for most event solutions providers it will be a challenge to arrange the shipping of their AV equipment over long distances without having their client pay an astronomical price for it. So, what is to be done? First of all, event organizers must look to cut down on unnecessary transportation services by reducing their reliance on global logistical sources. One way to achieve this is by sourcing locally for each event. Working with an event production company that has access to local warehouses and manpower across the globe can not only reduce costs, avoid customs delays, lower maintenance overheads and decrease shipping times. Sourcing locally can even help cut back on the carbon emissions associated with long-haul freight.
One of the strengths of the global AV Alliance network is our ability to tackle all of these issues by our members regularly collaborating in sourcing cutting edge audio visual equipment to each other; with warehouses over 100 locations worldwide, our members are able to support each other with the latest, state-of-the-art gear and event technology available on a local level, saving their clients a significant amount of money and also taking a more environmentally-conscious approach to supplying events.
Many event production companies, including our members, are also looking to build their own in-house transportation fleets, which can help reduce logistical complexity and supply chain vulnerability. Nevertheless, it is worth keeping in mind that the rising cost of fuel will continue to impact the bottom line for everyone in the supply chain to some degree.
AV Alliance member satis&fy using their own vehicle fleet for transportation
Managing stored equipment is not the easiest task, especially for larger AV providers with hundreds of thousands of items of all sizes and functions stocked in their warehouses. With back-to-back and often overlapping events each week, it is crucial to keep track of the availability of equipment and manage the logistics of rentals, transportation, maintenance, and replacement if and when necessary. Unsurprisingly, as the size and complexity of an event increases, so does that of the inventory, therefore its management usually makes up for a sizeable chunk of the costs of an event.
To complicate matters further, labor shortage – an ever-increasing issue that is plaguing the event industry – and a huge boom in live events of all sizes is now accompanied by rising costs amid rampant inflation. This means that event production companies need to find better, more efficient ways to store, track, and use their equipment in order to keep prices in check, and stay on top of their inventory management.
2022 already saw the triumphant return of live events, causing mayhem for AV suppliers around the globe as most of the postponed events were rescheduled for the same period of time, during the busiest months of the year. While it made finding and allocating available gear – and crew in case of wet hire – for each event an mammoth task, it was also a tough wake-up call to invest in the most robust and efficient inventory management solutions in the market. Now in 2023 event schedules are marginally less hectic, but the increased caution on the clients’ side means that a lot of events are often scheduled merely weeks or a few months in advance, again complicating matters for AV providers in allocating the necessary gear without overbooking themselves.
In such times, intelligent software and cloud-based rental business management platforms, such as those of our AV Alliance partners IntelliEvent and Unique Business Systems (UBS) prove to be lifesavers. Rental management softwares usually offer a host of services such as CRM, labor scheduling, rentals and sales, accounting etc. but their most powerful features in this case are inventory management, warehouse management, and logistics and operations. These scalable, real-time platforms give event logistics managers the tools they need to make quick, smart, and safe decisions on allocating, scheduling, transporting, and keeping track of all the equipment on any event that the AV provider is delivering.
Inventory and warehouse management at one of the many locations of our AV Alliance member LMG
How can the AV Alliance simplify your event logistics and reduce costs?
With members in 49 countries and a network of warehouses in more than 100 locations around the world, the AV Alliance provides state-of-the-art AV equipment, as well as highly skilled technical crew and project managers for events of all types and sizes.
If you would like to learn more about the types of logistics services our members offer, and find out how utilizing our global network can help you cut back on transportation costs and times, as well as your carbon footprint, we invite you to get in touch with us and find out what our AV Alliance members can do for you and your event!