Some dramatic tentwork from
Echelon Events Inc.
What’s the peg for a story on tents? The
consensus of a number of savvy planners can be summed up in one
word: novelty. “Tents are amazing,” enthuses Ria Bruns, president
of Classic Tents & Events, an Atlanta-based supplier. “There’s
really nothing like them.”
Indeed, along with their unique versatility, tents can lend a
breezy, earthy elegance to any event that few ballrooms can
replicate. But tents also can cause quite a flap for the
uninitiated planner, who might have to scramble to keep an event
from collapsing sometimes literally.
“Tent events do put you through the ringer,” confides Gregory
G. Sullivan, owner and special events producer of Boston-based
Echelon Events Inc. “There are about five times as many hoops you
have to jump through.”
M&C canvassed planners and suppliers alike for
tips on getting through every step of the process of tenting an
event, from site selection to cleanup.
Go with the experts
The one piece of advice planners and suppliers are most
emphatic about is to choose a tent rental company carefully. “These
people will be your greatest supporters in the days leading up to
and including the event,” Bruns notes. “They need to be the most
reliable workers out there. We’ve seen situations where the company
shows up late, and everything’s fairly close to ruined. The tent
has got to be there when it’s supposed to be because, unlike with a
ballroom event, you can’t even begin to set anything up until the
Bruns and others say the safest bet is to rent from members of
a professional organization, such as the American Rental
Association (800-334-2177; www.ararental.org) or the International Special
Events Society (800-688-4737; www.ises.com).
Watch the weather
While the wonders of climate-control technology have made
comfortable tenting possible almost year-round, there are some
weather conditions to beware.
Heavy wind and rain remain undefeated bullies in the tent
arena. Rain can act as a particularly wet blanket at an outdoor
event. “You can position a tent’s gutters to whisk away the water,”
says Gregory G. Sullivan, owner and producer of Boston-based
Echelon Events Inc., “but eventually water will settle in the
lowest spot, which can very possibly be inside your tent.”
It’s a good idea to stay away from areas and/or seasons
notorious for their rainstorms. Several planners and suppliers
offer the hard advice of booking a back-up indoor venue, no matter
when and where the event is held. It can be costly, certainly, but
so can the fallout when an event has no dry place to go.