The Sky is the Limit with Big Events

Planners are always under huge pressure to take events to the next level – literally.

Aerial lighting and photography, overhead videos and high-flying placards, banners, and signs are often needed to give your conference or convention the wow factor your client desires.

But hunting down the right equipment to rent, and knowing exactly what you will need is a different matter. This is particularly relevant when it comes to big equipment, such as platforms and aerial lifts.

Here are some tips on what to look for when considering renting aerial equipment, plus ways they can help you raise the bar for marketing your next big event.

So, what kind of aerial lift should I rent?

Obviously, this will vary according to your needs. Do you need to go straight up and down or do you need it to go in articulating steps? Do you need an electric or diesel running lift? Is it inside a small venue or out in a large field? Once you’ve figured out the answers to these questions, you’ll need to start thinking about height.

Lifts come in different heights. There are a variety of aerial lifts with different-sized arms, which stretch anywhere from 30 to 180 feet in the air. They are also built to carry different weights so be sure that the maximum recommended weight isn’t exceeded. That may mean weighing the people who will be on board as well as the equipment. So have a set on scales ready.

There are two key types of aerial lifts: boom lifts, sometimes called cherry pickers, and scissor lifts.

Boom lifts look a little like cranes, with articulated or telescopic arms coming from their decks. A small work platform sits at the end of the cherry picker’s arm and is large and sturdy enough to support a human operator. Boom lifts have a greater reach than scissor lifts, so they’re ideal for the most dramatic aerial shots, and where getting as high as possible matters, say for putting up a flag or banner or adding in outside field lighting.

Scissor lifts have much larger work platforms that can accommodate several people (an accordion-type lift mechanism raises the platform vertically, hence the name). They’re better if you need more assistants on board for filming or hanging decoration. When you’re taking aerial footage, standing on uneven platforms can cause unstable takes.

Lights, Camera, Action

Aerial photography and filming require a specialized camera mount that adapts the boom, so the camera operator can capture the scene from any height.

The camera operator and boom operator should work together to determine the best height, angle, and depth for the shots needed. They can really show your event from a whole next perspective.

The footage can be displayed on the big screen in real-time at the event itself to engage the audience, while video shots packaged afterwards are ideal for promotional and marketing purposes.

Certifications and Safety

You will need to hire someone who is certified to operate the equipment. Their expertise coupled with yours is sure to bring together a better result.

Also, if your event is indoors you will want a newer electric aerial lift, unlike the traditional ones powered by gas or diesel.

And don’t forget about safety! Renting a platform with a protected guardrail will ensure your safety and protect your team from falls. If you are working on the platform, you will need to wear the essential safety gear.

Here’s a checklist:

Space Restrictions: Consider the space that your lift is moving through. Tall buildings with narrow doorways will require a different aerial lift than one used in a wide-open job site.

Weight Capacity: To prevent overloading, you’ll want to account for how many workers (elbow room included) and gear that will be loaded on the aerial platform.

Movement Type Needed: Aerial lifts can either be single-mast or multiple masts — in other words, its movement is either only vertical or both vertical and horizontal. The movement will determine the lift you need.

Power Source Compatibility: Diesel is a popular choice for its availability and torque. However, if you are working indoors, electric motors are quieter and have no emissions. You could also choose dual fuel motors for more flexibility.

Job Site Conditions: Is your terrain steep and tricky, or is it delicate and soft? The conditions will determine the type of lift you’ll need. Like any vehicle, tires are also important. Flotation, non-marking, standard pneumatic, solid rubber, and foam-filled are just a few of the choices.

In summary, taking aerial shots, zooming high and then low, really adds extra depth to your project.

Photography or videos, whether they are short movies or advertisements, need layers. Layers add creativity to any project and make the final product a success. But understanding your equipment and having the know-how to operate is what will make that video superb.

Stable footage allows for delivery of exceptional quality to your client. Understanding your client’s needs and being able to fulfill those needs — even in the most creative ways — is exceptional customer service.

Experimental marketing

It’s also good to remember that footage can also provide the potential for experimental marketing.

San Francisco based makeup brand Benefit, for example, turned a scissor lift into a makeshift salon while launching a new brow gel. Visitors received a treatment 65 feet in the air while getting shots of the London skyline. Not only did it enhance the customer experience but became a talking point afterwards and created buzz and further publicity for the company on social media.

Another innovative idea comes from Dinner in the Sky, a company specializing in intimate dinners held on aerial platforms attached to cranes that take diners, wait staff, chairs, tables, food, and beverages 150 feet into the air.

It has partnered with several leading brands including American Express, BMW, and Jägermeister, to create experiential marketing campaigns centered around culinary events that their participants will never forget. Although Dinner in the Sky’s set-up is elaborate, the concept of dining in the air could also be achieved with a scissor lift on a much smaller scale.

And while unusual marketing campaigns create unique memories for participants and make your event extraordinary, their appeal doesn’t stop there. They can also generate conversation and buzz on online news channels, with the possibility of going viral.

Jim Arabia is VP of Marketing at BigRentz, the nation’s largest online construction rental equipment network serving the events industry across all states.  

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