Tents make a big impact at special events, but take a big bite out of the budget. Here, tent expert Alex Kouzmanoff, vice president of Torrance, Calif.-based manufacturer Aztec Tents, offers tips on pulling off a dramatic tent installation, whether the budget is puny or posh.
WHEN THE BUDGET IS TIGHT ….
Find the right event site.
“Far too often, event sites are selected without the tent rental company's realities in mind,” Kouzmanoff says. “By finding a site that is conducive to a tent installation, your rental company can help keep budgets in check.”
Find a site that is level. And even better, Kouzmanoff says, is a site that offers a readily adaptable surface, such as cement or asphalt. “If the weather is questionable and you'll be expecting rain, a smooth and level site will allow you to use a flooring option that can lay directly on the ground at a lesser expense when compared with a built-up and leveled floor system,” he notes.
Find a site that is free of obstacles such as trees, buildings, etc. This will make the tent installation more straightforward and reduce any unexpected install charges.
Inquire about power that might be available on-site rather than bringing in generators.
Inquire about existing restroom facilities that might be able to be used in place of temporary solutions.
Pick a site that is easy for the tent rental company to access. “The perfect site will allow the rental company to drive directly to the tent installation,” Kouzmanoff says. “Sites that require labor to move equipment from the truck to the site by hand or with dollies will only add additional cost to your event.”
Driving stakes to secure the tent is the best and least expensive way to properly anchor the tent, he notes. Asking your tent company to use weights or ballasts in place of stakes will come with added expense.
Make time for your tent company.
Give your tent company more time for installation and dismantle. “As with many businesses, tent rental operators are constantly battling labor and overtime expenses,” Kouzmanoff notes. “By giving them more time, they can be more flexible with their labor and perhaps more flexible with your rental rates.”
Think about design cost.
Kouzmanoff suggests opting for a tent design that is less labor-intensive for the rental company. “Although clear-span tents have become much more popular in recent years and have distinct advantages for hanging loads, there are other products that install with a fraction of the cost,” he says.
Consolidate your vendors.
“With fewer vendors, you can add more to each vendor's responsibility and, hopefully, achieve some economies of scale,” Kouzmanoff says. Look to your rental company to potentially provide the lighting, decor or other items that might fall within or just outside their normal scope of business.
Bring your rental company to meetings with the client.
“You would be amazed how fast events can come together when you have all the players together and there are no communication delays,” Kouzmanoff says. “By having your rental company present at meetings, you'll be able to steer your customer into products that the rental operator owns, and save the cost of specifying a product that your rental company will have to sub-rent for the event.”
AND WHEN THE BUDGET IS BIG …
“Think out of the box and bring in a tent design that has not yet been seen in your market,” Kouzmanoff suggests.
To make news, bring in a new tent. Kouzmanoff says, “A tent is only new once. You will pay a premium, but you will get the best quality by requesting ‘new.’”
Choose custom fabrics.
Use an existing frame in your rental operator's inventory, but have them bring in a custom color tent top that complements the event, Kouzmanoff suggests. For example, “Bring in a pink tent for the breast cancer charity gala.”
Print on your tent.
Use digital printing directly on the tents to create a distinct identity for the event, he says.
“Rather than sticking with your basic wood floor options, lay carpet down to create a chic feel to the event. Adding clear flooring over a pool with elegant lighting, lounge furniture and specialty linens are a few other ways to create a dramatic effect.”
BETH B. WILSON
Marketing manager, Mahaffey Tent Rentals, Memphis, Tenn.
“Lounge areas were still big this year. Having a separate tent for the lounge area gives guest an opportunity to relax in a quiet, comfortable setting.”
JOHN H. CRABBE JR., CERP
President, Vermont Tent Co., South Burlington, Vt.
“Family-style seating [photo above] can save a lot of space; a separate tent for dancing can be the ceremony tent if needed. Saving space is good not only for budgets but also for small yards.”
“On a 40-by-60-foot tent, a ceiling liner would be $1,700-plus. You can save the liner money and put white paper lanterns in the ceiling for a three-dimensional look that still portrays elegance.You can also use gel covers on par lights to create soft-colored lighting in your tent. It's very cost-effective and can reduce the need for expensive draping.”
General manager, Mahaffey Tent Rents
Mahaffey Tent Rentals
Vermont Tent Co.