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25 Oct 2009

VRMA conference - the European perspective

As promised here is my first post from the Omni Shoreham in Washington DC. The conference is well organized and I'm enjoying every bit of it. I think it is totally worth it also for European rental managers and here are my thoughts:
#1: Why don't we have anything similar in Europe and, even more strikingly, why isn't this very same organization turning more global?
#2: Or should it? We seem to eagerly ignore the American market (I'm the only European listed here!) and they are even more eager to ignore us! Today when I first raised my hand, to introduce myself I had to repeat Italy three times and finally retreat to a more general 'I'm European' to make my origin understood. No kidding. My presence here must be considered so bizarre that (must say with a bit of embarrassment) my name has been forgotten in the otherwise very detailed list of rental managers at the conference and I've been denied membership on the ground that... yeah, my company is European!
I should quote Chatwin or, more simply, one of the many colleagues who asked me today, 'Did you fly all the way to the US just for the conference?'
I sure did! Our markets are profoundly intertwined, we've got a 33% of American clients after all, I'm sure you guys over here have plenty of European clients.
Ok, questions of the day are: Why are European and American companies and managers so apart? Are the two markets really so apart and different? Why don't we have our own VRMA association? Or rather: why isn't there a truly global VRMA association?