Where’s the bar?

As part of being a marquee hirer you become a bit of an event planner. Positioning of the bar is surprisingly important. Remember the last house party you went to? The most crowded room was probably the kitchen. The last hotel wedding? Most guests were probably lingering by the bar, that’s what happens (especially blokes it has to be said).

This can also be turned in to a selling point for holding a marquee wedding compared to one in a hotel. Most hotels have a bar in one room and the meal in another, you then file back out to the bar while they clear the tables and lay the dance floor but most people will stick near the bar rather than go back in the dance floor room. You end up with something that all events want to avoid – 2 parties.

So the key to positioning a bar is to have it where you want people to linger.

If people are paying you to extend their house using a marquee then tell them to put the bar (and food if poss) out in the marquee to ensure it gets well used.

If you’re putting several marquees up for an event then try and have the bar in the same marquee as the dance floor (maybe at the opposite end though). This will keep people lingering in one area.

If the bar needs to be closed off until evening or needs to have access for people arriving for drinks outside consider putting it inside a small marquee (one of our pagodas for example) connected to the main marquee so it can easily open or close in different directions.

A normal size bar will take up around a 3x3m (10x10ft) area.

Thanks for reading. For anyone who hasn’t noticed we’re now on facebook, we’ll put some unique offers on there in the future so it’s worth bookmarking/liking.

Spencer

Tip for weddings

If you supply wedding marquees then it’s useful to have a few wedding tips to pass on. They aren’t going to win you any jobs (as you’re probably already there with the marquee by this stage) but it does help to project a professional appearance and reassure the customer that you know what you’re talking about (which can then lead to recommendations for future jobs)

The best tip that I passed on was for emotional bride/grooms who struggle to look in to each others eyes without bursting in to tears/laughter. Just tell them to focus on a point on the wall slightly to one side of their other half, as far as everyone else in the church can see they’re still looking in to each others eyes but it makes a world of difference to their emotions.

Weddings are emotional occasions that can make people nervous and slightly unpredictable (just ask my mate who in his words at the alter is married ‘in dogs holy law’!) so any advice you can give to help is usually well received.

As you may have noticed the design of our website has changed recently, there’s still work to do on it but if you find anything wrong or that could do with improving please let me know. There will be a new event planning advice section where I will be writing articles and case studies on particular aspects of planning an event, for experienced marquee hirers it will just seem common sense but for anyone new hopefully there will be some interesting reading there.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee Market & Merry Xmas

A marquee related website that could prove useful is marquee market, in their own words:

Marquee Market is a new website that aims to bring under one roof a range of functions to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for information/resources aimed directly at marquee companies and other event industry providers.  The website, which has been built by a team experienced in growing an established marquee hire business is still very much evolving and currently has facilities for;

  • advertising marquees for sale and other event equipment for sale (free adverts before end Jan 2012)
  • a platform for advertising marquee hire jobs (free adverts before end Jan 2012)
  • a manufacturers special offers page
  • a marquee cross hire listing

The aim is to build an informative website that offers up to date, relevant information which encourages communication within the industry. The Marquee Market team have many new ideas that will be introduced in the coming months – so do keep in touch! www.marquee-market.co.uk

If the website takes off then it could be a really useful addition to the marquee hire industry.

There won’t be a blog next week, frankly with a substantial and alcoholic Christmas planned it’s probably for the best. So I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, thank you for all of your business in 2011 and here’s to a busy and successful 2012 🙂

We are closing at lunchtime on Friday 23rd December and opening again on Tuesday 3rd January 2012

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquees in strong winds

The UK is suffering from some strong winds and there comes a point as a marquee hire company when you have to consider if it is safe and sensible to continue with a hire.

Hopefully in your terms and conditions of hire there is a Force Majeure clause covering you for events out of your control (the sample terms and conditions we include with every purchase have this in). Obviously these should only be referred to as a last resort and 99% of any problems should be resolved through amicable discussions with your customer.

Every site is different and the responsibility of whether the marquee should stay up pretty much falls on you so these are the things to consider:

  • How sheltered is the site? A marquee in a courtyard won’t be as affected as a marquee in a field on a hill
  • Are the sides going to be opened? A marquee without sides is effectively a large umbrella and very vulnerable to the wind. A marquee with only 1 or 2 entrances not facing the wind is much better
  • How well anchored down is the marquee? If it’s grass then how solid is the ground? If it’s weights then have you got enough weight strapped to each leg? Make sure all stakes are angled away from the marquee for added strength
  • What type of event is it? This will govern how far in advance you may have to consider cancelling the function
  • If the wind speed doubles then the forces on the marquee quadruple
  • If you’re looking at weather forecasts then look at the gusting speed not just the quoted wind speed

There does come a time when the sensible thing to do is to simply take the marquee down as the wind is simply too strong (take great care as in strong winds this is not easy). All through this process you should consult with the customer explaining the situation and possible outcomes. From experience most people are very reasonable about this kind of thing and indeed strong winds are not just going to affect the marquee but also guests going to and from the event so the function as a whole needs looking at.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Dirty marquee linings

Now we all like to think that we keep our marquee equipment clean and well maintained at all times. Sadly that’s not always the case and this is especially true of linings, you can open a bag of linings that you swore were clean when the last marquee came down but now have a variety of marks on them.

If you’ve got spare linings in your stock then that’s fine, just put the dirty ones to one side and clean them before you need them again. The problem is often you don’t have spare linings and you simply have to use them so you have 2 options:

1. Clean them on site (or take them back to be cleaned and return them). There are mould away sprays available, if not bleach for small spots

2. Failing that then put the marked linings in the least obvious place, roofs should be at one end not in the middle of the marquee where everyone’s going to notice and any walls with marks on could go behind the DJ/Band for eg. Not ideal but if you’re on site with no other choice but to use the linings it’s the best you can do.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Connecting a marquee to a house

During the winter people are often using marquees to gain an extra room on a house rather than holding the whole event in the marquee. This brings with it a few issues:

1. Orientating the marquee: If at all possible have the end of the marquee butting up against the building rather than the side.

  • This means if it rains the water will go off to the side rather than towards the house/join
  • There are no eaves rails in gables so raised doors can still open outwards in to a marquee
  • If you have to have the side of the marquee against the house then consider a walkway even if you only use 2m of it to cover the doors

2. Leave the end walls open if possible: If there is a door opening in to the end of the marquee then there’s often a window nearby. It helps the atmosphere of the party if people inside can look out of that window and see the marquee outside (and vice versa). It makes the marquee feel more like an extra room (which is what most people want after all).

3. Fill the gaps: It’s cold this time of year and heat from the marquee should be going in to the house not the other way around:

  • Extend the ends of the marquee on either side to block up any gaps between the house and the marquee
  • The marquee may not need weathering if you’ve got the gable up against the building but pin the scalloped edge up to the house guttering to make it look neater and give it a better seal
  • Keep rain skirts, all roof edges and leg covers fixed down, if they flap around in the wind then the heat will get blown out

As a final note – remind your customer to have the drink or food (preferably both) outside in the marquee to ensure it gets used thoroughly. Just pointing out that the most popular room at a house party is the kitchen usually does the trick. They’re paying for a marquee the best thing is to make sure it gets used!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Good marquee discussions over on the forum

I have mentioned the marquee forum several times before but it is a very good source of information. I certainly learn a lot from people on there so here are some useful threads to read:

Electric heaters..any good? Personally I don’t think they are very good (which is why we don’t sell them) but I have to respect the fact that there are people in the industry who do use them.

Drilling in to tarmac A thread that educated me, I always thought drilling in to tarmac is fine but in some circumstances it’s not a good idea.

Mould in pvc A must read, this discusses how to get out marks in PVC as well as explaining why you shouldn’t fold walls/windows repeatedly using the same fold lines.

Worse than a gym membership A warning against advertising with one of the marquee directories

There’s also a lot of other useful information on there and as it’s the only dedicated marquee forum around (to my knowledge) it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee lighting & electrical courses

Putting up marquees is easy. Putting up our lighting packages is easy. Planning the lighting and electrical requirements for a large marquee event is not so easy.

As a marquee hire company gets bigger naturally the events you cover become larger and more sophisticated, with that in mind you might want to consider going on one of Essential Supplies lighting or electrical courses:

Essential Supplies in conjunction with our Hire depot ES Lighting Hire will be running a range of training courses in January and February. The courses will be in PAT testing, marquee electrics and marquee lighting. They are specifically tailored to suit those working within the events industry.

The PAT Testing course will run on the 17th, 18th, 30th and 31st of January, the marquee electrics course will be the 9th and 10th of February and the marquee lighting course the 22nd and 23rd of February. The courses shall be held at the premises of our hire department in Hook, Hampshire.

For more details contact Louise at Essential Supplies, please mention our name then we might get some more pasties at The Showmans Show next year!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How to avoid a headache

When you turn up to erect a marquee the exact position isn’t always definitely decided. This gives a nice flexibility to the booking that customers often like so they can decide where it goes based on the weather forecast and where they think it looks best on the day.

Unfortunately this can lead to problems. One is that the customer (or person who needs to make the decision at least) isn’t there. The last thing you want is to erect the marquee only to be called back to move it later in the day.

The second problem is it leads customers to believe that the position of the marquee is flexible even when you’ve nearly finished the build!

If you have a customer who’s indecisive or you fear may want to move it ‘depending on how far it goes on to the lawn’ for example then there’s an easy answer. Lay the groundbars and footplates out to create the footprint of the marquee. This is nice and easy to move around the garden and you make it clear that this has to be their final answer.

You come across as helpful and wanting to ensure everything is right for their event but at the same time you’re making sure you don’t have to waste your time moving the marquee at a later stage.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Can you have a marquee wedding on a budget?

Just about every job is a compromise between what your client wants and what their budget is.

So is it possible to have a marquee wedding on a budget?

Yes absolutely but there’s things you need to make your customer aware of.  The main way for them to save money is to have an unlined marquee so your customers are likely to want to do a lot of decorating of the marquee before the day. You should also point out that decorations should be cleared before you come to take the marquee down – people are very happy decorating a marquee but not so keen un-decorating it!

Another alternative is to save space by having seating on the dance floor. Typically this would be the top table as everyone on it should be off socialising for the evening (ever seen an occupied top table late on at a wedding?)

A marquee can fit more people in standing than seated. A popular option is to limit the numbers of guests for the meal with more guests arriving for the evening. At the end of the meal all of the tables are cleared, the seats are moved to the edge of the marquee and this gives the added capacity needed for the evening.

No doubt there are many more money-saving ideas but these are the most popular I came across in the marquee hire industry.

Thanks for reading

Spencer