Archive for September, 2010

Free Stuff!

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Ok, so I may once or twice have mentioned the fact the showmans show’s on next month. We’re working hard on making sure there’s some new things of interest to you but some are going to be cutting it pretty fine -I’ll try and put them on here in good time before the show if I can.

I’d also like to reward you kind people who read my ramblings every week. I get a fair bit of email feedback but next month is often the only time I meet people in public, so I thought I should offer a free gift to anyone who mentions they read this blog.

I’m offering a 4 pack of pole straps. What are pole straps? I asked Jim from CCMarquees to review them for me just to make sure I wasn’t giving away something useless:

I have just packed away a 6m by 12 m marquee supplied by DIY Marquees and used adjustable tie straps to bind the poles together for storage. By locking the poles together with these strong but easy to use straps, the poles are not going to roll around when stored and are easier to carry. Thanks for introducing me to the product and I would recommend these straps as a great way to store and transport marquee poles. Regards Jim Costello Cc Marquees

So visit our stand (middle of Avenue E probably), mention the blog to get some useful free stuff (limited stock available blah blah)

Thanks for reading


Update: We’re on Avenue E, stand number 269.

A tip for site visits

Monday, September 20th, 2010

If you go out on site visits then it helps if you’re a good salesman as obviously that’s where most of your business comes from.
It’s often said that my Dad could sell snow to Eskimos. My brother (who’s successfully avoided joining the family business so far) similarly has ‘the gift of the gab’. I, do not. My tactic when meeting people was simply to be as helpful and honest as possible and just hope for the best. Luckily it worked pretty well 🙂 If you’re not a great salesman then I suggest you follow my example.

There was however one little trick that I learnt:

If you’re hiring out a marquee on it’s own then chances are you’ve got linings or other accessories sat there doing nothing for that weekend which is not ideal. When discussing extras for a marquee with a customer who was hesitant about spending the extra money I’d always say “Everything is itemised so I’ll put it on the quote and you just cross it off if you don’t want it”. I swear 4 out of 5 quotes that came back with deposits had nothing crossed out, it works very well.

Similarly if there’s something that a customer wants a price for that you’re reluctant to hire to them (something you’d have to cross-hire from another company for example) then list it separately at the bottom of the quote almost as an afterthought. It makes it far less likely customers will go for it.

I hope this helps, there are lots of other small bits that I picked up over the years that I’ll have to post up here sometime.

Thanks for reading.


Do I need a licence for my marquee wedding or event?

Monday, September 13th, 2010

A few follow up points from last week:
1. Fields are often uneven, if the marquee is booked a long time in advance then recommend the customer has the area rolled before the summer.
2. Apparently the laws on weddings are slackening so you can be granted temporary wedding licences in buildings (you still have to have 4 solid walls)

I came across this interesting article from Chris at Cascade Events who has kindly permitted me to reproduce it in full here:

“Do I need a licence for my marquee wedding or event?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked by our marquee hire clients and it’s not surprising really as a lot of the information available on the internet is contradictory and confusing and none of us want our perfect day to be ruined by a council official telling us it cannot go ahead because of a lack of an event licence.

The short answer to whether you need a licence for your marquee wedding or event is: maybe!

The exact answer depends on a lot of factors which are explained below but don’t panic! If it does turn out that your wedding or event requires licensing then a wonderful piece of legislation called the Licensing Act 2003 which allows for Temporary Event Notices.

Events only need licensing if “licensable activities” are taking place, these include:

  1. the performance of a play (this means any piece where a dramatic role is acted out);
  2. an exhibition of a film (this means any display of moving pictures);
  3. an indoor sporting event;
  4. boxing or wrestling entertainment;
  5. a performance of live music;
  6. any playing of recorded music;
  7. a performance of dance;
  8. or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance.
  9. the sale of alcohol (either at a cash bar or as part of a ticket price)

Numbers 5 and 6 mean that included in most weddings and parties there will be a licensable activity. However for a licence to be required for activities 1 to 8 they must take place “for a consideration or with a view to a profit” which means that a band performing at a wedding where the guests have not been charged an admission fee (!) would not require the event to have a licence whereas a charity concert where donations are sought from the audience would need to be licenced.

Number 9 only covers the sale of alcohol. You are allowed to give away as much drink as you like to your guests as long as you do not charge them for it.

So, what if it turns out that under the criteria above you do need to get a licence? If you need the licence because Cascade are running a pay bar for you then we will look after all of those arrangements and you do not need to worry. If you are running the bar yourself we are still able to organise the licence for a very reasonable fee.

If you would like to do it yourself then it is not too difficult at all:

  1. Make sure you do it in time. You must submit your notice at least ten working days before the event date. We would suggest doing it more like 20.
  2. Go to the website of your local borough / district council (see below)
  3. Locate the Temporary Event Notice application form
  4. Complete the form (fairly straight forward)
  5. Submit to your local authority along with the fee of £21
  6. Await their confirmation of receipt (they normally send you back a stamped copy of the form)
  7. Have the event and have fun!

To assist you here are some links to local authority TEN application forms:

Wokingham Borough Council Temporary Event Notice
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Temporary Event Notice
Reading Borough Council do not have one on their website so we suggest using the generic TEN Application form here.”

Thanks for reading


Marquee forums

Monday, September 6th, 2010

At The showmans show in 2008 I was approached about a new marquee forum that was going to help out everyone in the industry. I thought it was a good idea but sadly didn’t get off the ground. Lisa from County Marquees kindly pointed me in the direction of the office section on the blue room forum where a few people have posted about marquee hire and the admins have said if there’s enough interest then they’ll make a ‘marquee’ section.  If that doesn’t work then maybe we’ll just have to set up our own one.

I stumbled across this post on yahoo answers and wish I’d got there sooner to offer my own answer (basically they’re asking it is possible to hold a marquee wedding in a field).  In my eyes the question is perfectly reasonable and one you come up against regularly, it just demonstrates that your job is not simply to hire out and put up marquees but to reassure people that it’s possible and can be done successfully.  Some of the answers are also quite interesting so I’ll run through them here.

Answer 1: a different event was ruined by poor heating and a muddy field all down to the weather. Except it wasn’t the weathers fault, it was the hirers. There was insufficient heating (several small heaters are better than one large one) and ideally (certainly in a field) you should run a small path of matting or carpet across to the toilets and also as an entrance path. This avoids getting muddy and ladies losing high heels. As long as any long grass is cut short well in advance of the event and it’s relatively level then fields make excellent venues for marquees.

Answer 2: It’s more expensive than a regular venue. Possibly true, possibly untrue. There are always cheap ways of doing things -instead of caterers get a cold buffet from Waitrose or get a local take away to do the food for example.

Answer 3: Tents can be very expensive. They can also be very reasonable.

Answer 4: You don’t get married in a marquee, you get married in a church/registry office and hold the reception in a marquee. We did several marquees where the couple were married in a quiet registry service the day before but then held a blessing with all of their guests in one marquee before coming across to another marquee for the reception. Guests think the couple are getting married there but they’re not actually.

Answer 5: DIY Marquees aren’t expensive :). You only need a licence for a bar if it’s selling alcohol, if it’s free then you don’t need one.  A field generally has plenty of space for parking (lighting the parking area is an often forgotten item). Marquee hirers have public liability insurance as standard, we can give details of bespoke insurers if required but exactly what part of the property is going to get damaged? It’s a field.

What this person really needed was for someone to go on there and say yes this is a good idea and happens all the time. What you need is a few smaller marquees connected together to create a courtyard (a field is a large place, you want to keep everyone together in one area). Put some outside seating in the courtyard (or hay bails for that country feel) with a spitroast in one corner. It’s informal, you remove all the marquee walls facing the courtyard so people drift in and out of them. It won’t cost a fortune and you can do all of the decorating yourself.

Thanks for reading.