Like cars, mobile phones and swimming pools, tents come in all shapes and sizes. But sometimes, the standard shapes and sizes just won’t do.
That longtime client whose venue you’ve been serving for years suddenly calls with an idea—there just has to be a better tent footprint for that big event than the tried-and-true your company had scheduled to install. Your plan included placing multiple tents throughout the venue, pulling from inventory you own; but now you need a new approach.
Your first step: Identify the issues that are driving the need for a change. It could be a variety of things—water intrusion, sun infiltration in pesky areas, or too many perimeter legs compromising patrons’ natural traffic flow.
We all know that people see things differently and tents–and venue sites—are no exception.
Marquee tents create a covered walkway that skirts obstacles for an elegant pathway to the main event inside the larger keder-frame tent.
Start with the easiest action. Have someone from your company visit the site with you and discuss the challenges you’re facing or that are being reported by the client. Sometimes, another set of eyes on a venue can uncover different options that habit and history are keeping you from seeing. You may even be sitting on inventory that can solve the problems by incorporating a new variation into the footprint, making minor adjustment to the current plan or adding a few pieces of new, customized hardware to your existing framework.
Frame tents are often easier to customize and a qualified manufacturer should be able to design components modified to your specific needs.
- Are legs in the way of access to the venue? They can usually be moved with special brackets and/or poles.
- Is water seeping into the event space? Custom gutters may solve the problem.
- Is a large portion of the venue’s patio or courtyard sacrificed because a standard size tent is too large or too small? Tents can be built to the inch in both directions to maximize the covered area of this revenue-generating space.
- Does half of the water on a tent end up ponding against the building that the tent is designed to support? A single (mono) slope design could pitch the water away from the permanent structure.
These are some answers to the most common obstacles faced at venues; but sometimes, you simply don’t have—and can’t find—the products that you need to solve all of the issues and impress your customer. If this sounds familiar, you may be a candidate for a custom tent that can take your client’s event to a brand-new level.
Give the illusion of a larger space with clear-panel ends and tiered tents that let in the sun and complement the natural surroundings of the venue.
So what kind of information will you need when working with a manufacturer on a custom tent? It’s all in the details, literally.
Some venues may require a visit from a manufacturer’s representative who has experience in designing custom tents. Certainly, a detailed drawing of the desired tent footprint is vital.
And above all, take photos. There is simply no substitute for photos. When you think you’ve taken enough photos, you’ve likely taken one-third of what you need. Take more photos.
Nothing should be taken for granted. The manufacturer needs to know what’s above, below, and on all four sides of the area in question. Provide information and specs for lights, gutters and doors (include the door heights for clearance under the tent). Note any obstructions like trees, uneven ground, utilities—you name it—the manufacturer needs to know it all. Also be sure to outline your specific issues so that the manufacturer can focus on a design that can overcome those obstacles.
Most manufacturers have a detailed internal checklist that needs to be completed and vetted before production begins. That works in your favor because it means the manufacturer has already thought through all of the key points they will need to design the right frame, top and accessories for the venue. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions because nothing can be taken for granted.
This waterfront venue extended its event space during cooler months with a custom tent that offers an unobstructed view of the waterway plus easy ingress/egress from the formal dining room.
When the plans arrive, review them carefully. Note any areas that are questionable and double-check their measures against the information you have on file. This is not the time to skim through things. One small miscommunication between you and the manufacturer could be the difference between your company getting that five-star review or the dreaded one-star complaint.
The bottom line—a custom tent can give you another opportunity to service your client in a way that makes you more than just another tent company in town. It can be a great source of revenue and can help to position you as the expert for specialty events. But it requires dotting lots of i’s and crossing lots of t’s. The detail and effort will have its reward, because your clients will remember the team that solved their problems long after the party has ended.
Bryan Bolt is technical solutions manager for TopTec Event Tents of Moore, S.C., responsible for all involvement with customers, including sales rep field training and interaction with customers, technical issues such as engineered certification of product offerings, field training of customers, custom projects, pricing, and new project design and implementation.