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 Hireย 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!

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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.

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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.ย  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.

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Show customers exactly what they might be hiring

Experienced marquee erectors will be able to look at a garden and just see exactly how a marquee will fit and exactly what it would look like. Always keep in mind that your customers won’t be able to do this, giving them a few details and asking them to use their imagination is going to be a tough sell.

So what can you do?

Floorplans: supplying one or two suggested floorplans showing how everything is going to fit in to their marquee is going to be a big help. It will show that the numbers you’re talking about will fit in to their garden-often this comes as a surprise to someone who’s just marked the space out on their lawn. You can use our handy marquee planner for this – print it and cut it out or take a screenshot, crop it down and add it straight in to quotes etc.

Photographs: The best thing you can possibly do is have a photograph of exactly what your customer wants. This isn’t easy, especially when you’re starting out but if you have photographs in your portfolio of all the different jobs you’ve done then eventually you’ll have some clear favourites – expand on these ones in particular. You always want to have choice available but the best scenario for both you and your customer is for them to say ‘I want exactly that’. For us the most popular option was honeybeige carpet and ivory swags for weddings and blackout linings with black & white dance floors for 40th/18th birthday parties.

Look at a website like rightmove – when someone goes to view a house chances are they’ve seen pictures of it, they’ve seen a floorplan and they’re just going to see how it all comes together in a package. Make life easier for you and your customers by offering similar information.


Many thanks to JF Marquees and Premier Party Tent (again) for helping us dismantle our Showmans Show marquees in record time (an hour & 30 minutes). The show itself seemed successful with most hirers having a positive outlook for 2012. Our new products on display seemed to go down very well including our new solid frame doors (only ยฃ400) and our simple gable pieces that give so much more flexibility to hirers. Thank you for everyone who came in to see us and especially those who mentioned they read this blog, I’ll try my best to keep helping as much as I can.

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Non-damaging way of getting a fixing on a lining

There won’t be an entry next week as we’ll be down setting up our stand at The Showmans Show, yes I’ve mentioned it many times but this blog is aimed at marquee hire companies and it is simply the one show you must visit for the industry. Please stop by and say hello ๐Ÿ™‚

I posted this last year but it has proved very popular and I keep referring people to it so here it is again:

Nearly every time you use a marquee lining it will be to go in your standard marquee stock and (if it’s one of ours!) will fit perfectly. Easy.

But sometimes you have to fit a lining somewhere unusual. It might be lining a customers porch, it might be lining an unusual walkway or just making good to a house. At some time in your marquee hiring life you will need to do this.

So how do you get attachments in a lining without damaging it? Follow these instructions:

Step 1: Find a decent sized pebble (about 4cm diameter ideally) and place it on the good face of the lining (ie the side you don’t need to get a fixing)

Step 2: Scrunch the material round the pebble at the back of the lining

Step3: Tie a cable tie tightly around the scrunched material and also include an extra cable tie (this gives you your fixing).

And there you have it, a fixing in the middle of a lining that looks okay from the front (you can’t see the pebble) and gives you a fixing at the back without damaging the lining.

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Remind customers of their responsibilities

One of our favourite customers has recently had a problem that is interesting to highlight for others in the industry.

They erected a marquee for a client and left it well strapped down. The client then in all their wisdom decided to ‘borrow’ most of the tie downs to anchor down their own gazebos as strong winds were forecast. Lo and behold the strong winds caused damage to the main marquee exactly where the tie downs had been removed.

This is an incredibly rare occurrence, I can think of only one similar incident happening in all my time of marquee hiring so there’s no need to be too concerned but it would be sensible to take precautions.

Essentially you need to ensure the customer is aware of their responsibilities and obligations, for example:

  • ensuring no part of the marquee is dismantled (partially or otherwise), this includes tie downs but also wires or cross-braces on larger marquees
  • not to leave indoor furniture outside -chairs with seat pads and/or covers are often carried outside by guests but not returned at the end of the event leaving them open to rain overnight
  • marquees should be closed up overnight or in strong winds
  • no electrical equipment should be tampered with including any temporary earth rods (used with generators etc)

Ideally have a form that is signed just to cover yourself if anything did happen.

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new products at Showmans Show 2011

Following on from the previous post on The Showmans Show here are some more details:

We are on Avenue E, stand number 258. Come out of the exhibition hall, turn right then left and we’re a short way down on the right hand side.

All of the suppliers you would expect to find will be there including heater suppliers, furniture suppliers, insurance companies etc. One you may not have considered is Welwyn Tool Company (stand 89 in the hall). They offer a variety of products for welding PVC but having a small heat gun for making repairs on site proved invaluable to us as a hire company.

We’ll be showing a couple of new additions to our stock including gable pieces for creating porch areas and solid frame doors. No photos yet as we’ve been testing them all summer but I’ll put some up here after the show.

Thanks for reading, look forward to seeing you at the show ๐Ÿ™‚


Discount for Winter marquee hire?

As we’ve come towards the end of the season bookings and enquiries for the winter will start to come in. A big question you have to ask yourself is will you offer discounts for winter hire?

Hiring out marquees during the winter is a bit harder, the weather is generally against you and will wash off that tan from ALL that sun we had this summer (!), the marquees require more maintenance and cleaning per hire and the marquees are often that bit more awkward – connecting a marquee to a house is a lot more work that simply putting it up in a garden for example.

On the flip side of this most winter work is seen as something of a bonus, other than Christmas/New Year you’re unlikely to sell out. So is it worth offering a discount?

In my opinion yes. We started out offering no discounts but when we changed our approach our order book doubled from the previous year. I’m not advocating getting work for the sake of it, you’ve still got to earn money on a job so don’t go chasing too hard. A 10% discount seems about right although as I’ve mentioned before I think it’s much better to offer extra items to the value of 10% rather than a discount if you can.

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White ratchet straps for marquees

Isn’t it annoying when you buy something only to see a newer improved version available soon after?

Well we’re just introducing white ratchet straps to go in our tie down kits, the standard for the whole industry is to use orange (which we still have available) but we are repeatedly asked for white to blend in with the marquee so we have now produced them.

Not only that but if you’ve purchased orange ratchet straps from us in the last month then we’re happy to exchange them (free of charge) for white ones even if the orange ones are used. Just send them back to our factory (obviously including a copy of the invoice).

We do try to look after our customers even after they’ve purchased a DIY Marquee ๐Ÿ™‚

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How much space is needed for a place setting?

Unusual seating plans can call for some head-scratching calculations. 95% of the time people will want standard seating arrangements that you’ll have done many times before but just occasionally you get a someone who wants something a bit different. This generally involves unusual shapes or combinations of tables – you may hire them or make them yourself (bolting a custom made top to an existing table is the most common option). Here are some rules to help you plan:

Ideally you want a 2ft (60cm) wide space per person around the table. It can be a bit less if it’s a curved table (as people end up with more space further away from the table)

You also need to allow 2ft (60cm) for chairs around the table but that doesn’t allow space to walk between tables.

As an example take a 20ft/6m wide marquee that you would typically fit two round tables across in any layout. So 5ft round tables would then have an extra 2ft for the chairs, positioning them against the walls leaves a 2ft path down the middle.

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