If there is one sector of the event industry that has massively changed over the past 10 years it is AV.
We used to source a couple of projectors, mics and laptops and we were off.
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Times have changed profoundly. Not necessarily AV companies. That is why I was refreshed to get to review ARIA. Aria is not an AV company for all types of events, but if you read EventMB, I know you, and I know you should check these guys out.
In a nutshell, they offer the cool things we talk about in our trends reports and whenever we break the news of something innovative. They get it.
But product alone is not a big differentiator in the AV world. It’s true that sometimes you need the shiniest product out there but most events, especially when it comes to corporate events and trade shows, need a solid partner to implement all this awesome stuff us nerds tend to love.
If you plan outdoor events in general, I don’t think they will be your ideal partners. I think that bringing clarity to event professional should be the mission of industry suppliers. Raj, the CEO, was extremely direct in telling me what they can and can’t do and I appreciated it so much, because it makes your life easier.
Here is our review.
Aria: What Is It?
Aria is the perfect example of a great company that has been around forever and that has built its business organically and with quality. That brings them now to a stage where they are growing exponentially thanks to happy clients and business done right.
Our research is clear. Event professionals value support more than anything in terms of technology. Well, after price maybe ;-).
Raj and team understand what planning events mean. With the increased expectations of attendees, the increased security demands, the ever growing competition, the last thing you need is a technology partner that doesn’t care.
When I asked him about their company, the very first aspect he mentioned is service. That gives you an idea of what the focus of a company is.
Some AV companies purely compete on price or inventory.
Obviously this is important but as an event planner I care about how you are going to help me and by when you are going to respond to my RFP.
In order to accomplish the timely turnaround, Aria has a team of well-trained account representatives waiting for your inquiry.
The Main Benefits Are:
- Aria responds to call quote requests and RFP’s within one business hour.
- They provide full service delivery, setup and strike in every major city in the United States.
- They ship anywhere in the United States overnight.
- All rentals come with 24/7/365 Technical Support.
- Custom Software Imaging is available for all PC and Mac Rentals.
- Custom App loading is available for all iPad, Android and iPhone Rentals.
- Free seed and test rental unit is available on all orders.
- Onsite project management for tradeshows.
- Spare rental equipment on all orders over 8 units.
- 4G LTE services available on all iPads, iPhones and Android Phones.
- Aria is a Microsoft Partner.
- Aria is an Intel Technology Provider.
Aria is laser focused on equipment rental. Items such as LED displays, iPads for lead retrieval but also solid PCs (in fact they are among the few Microsoft certified partners, hence able to deliver the full Office suite).
That’s great but what about the things that matter today?
Events are becoming visual experiences. At the same time I’ve seen events with displays that are smaller than what the average attendee has back home.
Don’t discount technology in your experience. Don’t discount the tools needed to deliver your experience. Whether it is a presentation, wayfinding or interactive games.
Think about that boring corporate training you are trying to revive. Instead of having mini burgers (which are so tasty but hey they are not the reason why you got people in a room) why not getting your attendees to participate on a touch video wall? Boom, here is a new way to get everyone engaged.
Brightbox Charging Stations
This is one I am particularly excited about. If you’ve seen me presenting around the world, I always suggest to look in smart charging stations. They were also part of our trends last year.
These stations specifically can be fully branded but that is not what I am excited about. They scan how many people pass by a specific location, giving you insights into the foot traffic. This is especially valuable for trade shows. If you have problems showing value to your exhibitors, you should just have a ‘shut up and take my money’ approach when it comes to these stations.
Kiosks are becoming an essential for wayfinding at large events. Nobody wants to read a flat map in 2018. Let me repeat that, nobody! Looking at a practical 10pt font size key and then finding where that might be in a jungle of numbers. Don’t ever tell me you care about the experience of your event, if you don’t have these basic elements of modern wayfinding. Whether it is event communication or maps and instructions, kiosks are amazing at delivering vital information in a user friendly way. Aria offers some cool options.
Electronic lead retrieval is becoming a key element to speed things up at exhibition booths. But say you are working with a tough group of CEOs that always keep looking at their mobile instead of listening to what your boss has to say. Give them iPads with your custom imaging and software preloaded. From team building activities to interactive software, having an iPad there keeps first graders concentrating, the same applies to ex-first-graders like CEOs.
Live 360 Degree Streaming
If you understood anything about the last couple of years in terms of eventtech, you know that the new challenge is to connect remote attendees and keep them engaged. There is no better way to do that than 360 degree cameras. What most refer to as Virtual Reality. It opens up massive revenue opportunities if well implemented. You can create an immersive experience by simply placing the camera on the front row and give the illusion to remote attendees they are actually there.
‘We have great support!’. How many times have you heard that only to be left by yourself in the wild, trying to fix an issue with your screen or projector. You did not sign up for this when you decided to become an event planner. How did we get there? Thanks to the sloppiness of some suppliers.
This is why true service based companies are growing so fast. I like to think of Aria as one of these companies, but I want to hear your opinion once you hire them.
Raj tells me that their orders come with a technician that will come on site to set up everything and make sure that all equipment works to the expectation. Aria has a national network in the US that covers the whole territory.
You can count on:
A National Account Executive: Responsible for personal care of each client from initial inquiry to event completion. Provides custom consultations to each customer on the best rental fit for their event. Our customers one point of contact throughout their event. The National Account Executives are well trained in the technical aspects and specifications of all the rental gear they carry.
An OnSite Event Technician: Responsible for the delivery, setup and support of rental equipment. Aria’s technician are well-versed in both PC and Mac environments. Additionally, they trained to provide the highest level of customer service during events. Typically their event techs will setup laptops, Digital Signage, Video Walls and iPads on tradeshow Floors. They will then make sure all client content runs properly in the correct formats.
An Operations Manager: They carefully plan and organize pre-event checks. Makes sure all gear goes through a thorough quality control program before being deployed on site. Manages day to day orders and equipment add-ons on show site.
Digital Signage for Rent: 24” to 98” Commercial LED
Video Walls for Rent: 2 x 2 Video Walls, 3 x 3 Video Walls, LED Tiles Walls
Multi-Touch LED for Rent: 22’’-98” Touchscreens
Laptops for Rent: HP, Dell, Lenovo i3-i7 Laptops. Workstation Laptops. Macbook Pro and Macbook Retinas
iPads for Rent: iPad Air Gen 1 9.7” though iPad Pro 9.7”. Larger iPad Pro 12.9 Inch for rent. Both WiFi only and Cellular available.
Smartphones for Rent: iPhone 7, iPhone 7+, iPhone 8, iPhone X, Pixel Phones and Samsung Galaxy S8 Smartphones.
Desktop Computer for Rent: Tiny PCS, i5 to i7 HP and Dell Small Form Factor PCS.
Printers for Rent: HP Black & White Printers, HP Color Laser Printers for Rent.
Virtual Reality for Rent: HTC Vive Headsets, Oculus Rift VR Kits, Samsung Gear VR Kits.
Specialty Items for Rent: Charging Stations, Digital Kiosks, Mirror Displays, iPad Kiosks.
Who Is It For?
Aria is for corporate event professionals and trade show managers who want to cross AV off their to-do list. From large trade shows to intimate corporate meetings, Aria is a perfect fit.
Aria is less of a solution for those that produce outdoor music festivals or sporting events.
Pros and Cons
- Incredible SLA and responsiveness.
- Onsite setup and one-to-one support.
- Modern but focused inventory. The tools you really need to deliver proper experiences.
- Not ideal for outdoor events.
- Not currently shipping internationally.
- Limited lightning inventory.
Pricing and Plans
The prices vary based on the items hired and the length of the rental. You can get a quote online or over the phone by contacting Aria.
I liked what I saw when evaluating Aria. I see an inventory that makes sense and speaks to the real needs of corporate event professionals. The service obsession these guys have makes them a strong candidate for your RFPs.
If you are looking to jazz up your event or create a better experience, or you simply want a better price than what your venue in-house supplier offers, give these guys a go. You have nothing to lose!
Disclaimer: Reviews are paid for placements. While Event Manager Blog receives a fee to extensively look at the tool and review it in detail, the content of the review is independent and by no means influenced by the company. If you have any questions please use the contact us section.