Guide to Successful Outdoor Events
Get ready for summer with all the tips, trends and tools you need for your outdoor eventsby Lindsey Getz | Published in June 2009 AC | fencing | flooring | Focus on Rentals | inflatables | power | restrooms | tent liner | tents
Summer is here, and that means it’s time for events to head outside with the rest of us. Planning on taking yours to the great outdoors this season? From tents and fencing to staffing and inflatables, we’ve rounded up all the tips, tools and tricks you’ll need to create the ultimate affair, wherever you choose to go outside.
TREND: Today’s tents are being spruced up with all the add-ons. “Many of today’s events require upgraded accessories, including glass walls, tent liners, air conditioning, leveled flooring, aluminum storefront-type doors and upgraded lighting,” says Michael Miner, vice president of marketing, Classic Party Rentals (classicpartyrentals.com). Keep all of this in mind when preparing your budget, he advises.
NEW: Classic Party Rentals has a double-decker structure that is very popular. “It creates a great atmosphere and more capacity for guests in the same size footprint as the standard tent,” says Miner.
TIP: After choosing your tent liner, event planners need to establish a realistic and workable timeline incorporating all aspects of the event set, say Barbara Friesen and Debby Josephson, sales consultants, Baytex USA/The SEC Group (thesecgroup.com). “Specifically, tent liner hardware needs to be installed before the tent is raised to its final height,” they add. “Also, make sure tent liner installers cover the ground with tarps on install and tear down and wear gloves to avoid unnecessary soiling.”
TREND: The hottest trend is the addition of color gels on the tent liners to create a color glow, say Friesen and Josephson.
PITFALL: Avoid clutter and sight-line barriers, say Friesen and Josephson: “Liners come in two styles to work with either: standard cross cables or the newer ‘scissor truss cables.’ Choose the liner that works with the tent cables. Scissor truss cables are concealed above the liner, where the standard cables remain visible at the eave height.”
NEW: The newest decorating option, available from Baytex USA, are detachable valances, say Friesen and Josephson. Liners traditionally have a 9-inch pleated or gathered valance at the eave line. You can now remove the valance and replace it with colorful swags to make an elegant finish to the ceiling treatment. Custom colors and designs allow the designer to create accents and thematic detailing at a fraction of the cost of a complete custom liner.
TREND: Misting fans have become very popular, says Dan Frantti, rental division, Schaefer Ventilation Equipment (schaeferfan.com). There are two styles of misting: low pressure and high pressure. “Low pressure runs off a standard water connection, usually using a garden hose and mist ring,” he says. “High pressure uses a pump to increase the pressure. The mist from high pressure systems almost has the appearance of a fog.”
PITFALL: Don’t undersize the cooling proposal. Many planners think of heat in terms of discomfort, not danger. But in fact, an event that’s too hot can quickly become hazardous to attendees. Warns Frantti: “It’s best to avoid people fainting at your event!”
NEW: Schaefer Ventilation Equipment recently unveiled the Area Cooling System. While typical misting systems get nearby objects or people wet, this new product releases the mist higher and in a 360-degree circle.
TIP: “In the pre-planning stages, an event planner should collect complete electrical specifications from lighting, sound and video companies, the caterer and the tent contractor, if they are providing general lighting,” suggests Gary Meador, director of event services, North America, Aggreko Event Services (aggreko.com). “The more specific information that a planner provides us, the better price they are going to get.”
PITFALL: Not planning in advance could be disastrous, stresses Meador. “For an on-time and on-budget event, it is imperative for planners to either get all of their vendors in the same room, or on a conference call, before installation to verify timelines and responsibilities for each member of the team,” he says. “If each vendor is working from their own installation schedule, and only has an idea of what their responsibilities include, it can lead to a disorganized installation and plenty of potential ‘oh by the way’ add-on charges.”
NEW: The Aggreko Twinpack Uninterruptible Generator offers reliable, uninterruptible power. It combines and synchronizes two generators to provide fully redundant backup power.
TIP: To create a truly upscale look with carpet, hot-seam your carpet as opposed to taping, advises Arnon Rosan, CEO, Signature Flooring/EventDeck and American Turf & Carpet (eventdeck.com). “It adds a bit more time, but creates a more trouble-free, longer-term installation, and a higher-end look.”
“The decision on what type of floor system to install is determined by the needs of the event and the cost to rent and install,” says Spencer Etzel, president, The SEC Group. “Plywood floors, for example, may be an inexpensive material to use as flooring, but can require much more time and labor dollars to install when compared to flooring products. As floor systems get more rigid and provide a better surface to work on, the weight and the expense of moving and installing go up, and are reflected in the rental cost per square foot.”
NEW: Signature’s Sur-Loc floor system comprises rigid panels that lock together and can be laid directly on a lawn or dirt surface, with enough thickness to provide adequate protection from ground water. These floors function similarly to stage deck systems, and can be spaced up off the ground to level out any site. The Sur-Loc system is ideal for events that need to be elegant with the final finish being turf or carpet.
TREND: Because of the economy, those renting bleachers are being strategic in maximizing their ticket sales, says Roger Ygeal, president and owner, Performance Staging Inc. (performancestaging.com). Take an empty space at an event and use it for seating, he suggests. “This is beneficial whether it’s complimentary seating or you are selling tickets,” says Ygeal. “Over time, guests get tired of standing around.”
NEW: Flip Up Seating is a higher-end seating option offered by Performance Staging Inc. “It’s very comfortable, individual seating with back support,” says Ygeal. “It can turn an outdoor, blank space into a cozy theater.”
TREND: United Site Services (unitedsiteservices.com) is seeing more demand for larger wheelchair-accessible and ADA-compliant restrooms, says Bob Barton, vice president of marketing, United Site Services. In addition to meeting the needs of the handicapped, these restrooms are perfect for family events where parents need to assist young children in the bathroom. These restrooms are also an economical alternative to a restroom trailer for formal events where women with wide gowns need extra room.
TIP: “The biggest mistake we see event planners make is not having enough portable toilets for an event,” says Barton. “Having too few toilets can cause long lines, unpleasant conditions and an event that is memorable for all the wrong reasons. If the restroom facilities are not pleasant, your guests will shorten their stay.”
NEW: United Site Service’s Porta Lisa Restroom Trailer is designed for small private events that are looking for the comfort of a home bathroom without having to get a larger restroom trailer. With flushing toilets, sinks, mirrors, HVAC and lighting, the two-stall Porta Lisa Restroom Trailer provides quality amenities at an affordable price.
TREND: Because of the economic climate, event planners are outsourcing more positions than ever before, says Joanne Tozzi, CEO, J and L Concessionaires (jandlconcessionaires.com). “It makes sense to outsource in as many areas as possible since there aren’t payroll taxes, liability issues or benefits involved,” she says.
NEW: Because of current demand, J and L has now added “bag stuffers” to its list of available staff. “Goodie bags are an inexpensive way to promote individual businesses participating in the event,” says Tozzi.
TIP: “A common mistake that planners make is not requiring the temp agency to have a manager on-site for each event,” says Tozzi. “It’s important, especially for large scale events, for the agency to send someone to manage the staff.”
TIP: Fencing can be used to delineate areas and give certain attendees top-notch treatment. “We offer our fence with windscreen in order to screen off VIP areas from the general crowd,” says Daniel Riordan, preferred account representative, National Construction Rentals (rentnational.com). “The 6- or 8-foot options offer a visual and physical barrier. For feature performers, we can even install fencing along drives to form private chutes to drive through.”
TREND: PVC and plastic fencing is a lot more popular than traditional wooden picket fences nowadays, reports Stefanie Rosenthal, rental industry sales manager, Signature Fencing & Flooring Systems LLC (signaturefencing.com). Lower maintenance and more easily portable, Signature PVC picket fencing consists of vinyl panels that have no rough surfaces, nails, splinters or sharp edges to injure spectators or participants, lowering your event’s liability.
TIP: The limitations of a space can be tricky, so ask these questions in advance: Can we stake? Is there power? What’s access to the area like? What’s the weather plan? “Not all interactive inflatables can be run off of generators, and sunlight can impact their performance,” says Kelly Smink, president, Amusement Masters (amusementmasters.com). NEW: Amusement Masters offers a very popular inflatable called Circus City. It has a total of three slides and two bounces. Because of the design, clients get maximum through-put for no additional costs. It offers five different interactive areas for the price of one.