Tents rentals are such a pain but so gratifying when it’s all said and done…
For anyone thinking about getting into tents, here’s my advice as a bounce house guy who added tents to their inventory.
✅ Step 1. Think long and hard about the pros and cons
We kept getting calls for tents, tables, and chairs and finally decided to start offering them with our inflatables. Money is GREAT… but it takes a toll on you physically and mentally. Why?
- You generally need a bigger crew for tents than inflatables and more importantly you need a more RELIABLE crew!
- Tents are heavier, more likely to fall apart if someone takes a shortcut/bad weather hits, and serious injuries can occur to your staff or your customers if your setup isn’t on point.
- You are also legally required to call 811 a few days before setup since you’ll need to be placing those large tent stakes into the ground and don’t want to hit a utility line.
- Tents are WHITE meaning you have to keep them CLEAN and that’s not always easy if your guys don’t use the tent tarps or you set up in an area where leaves 🍁 fall on the tent top.
- Lastly, tent customers are a different breed… if something doesn’t go right at a wedding tent event you can’t exactly “make it up next time” like you could with a birthday party… lawsuits are a real possibility if you ruin someone’s wedding.
✅ Step 2. Know the different types of tents so you don’t get the wrong kind like I did
There are 3 main types of event tents (pop up tents won’t be covered here because they’re generally not a good fit for events).
👉 Pole Tents
Pros: Lightweight, don’t take up much space, and if you ever become a pro (I never did) they are the easiest to set up.
Cons: Can only be set up on grass not a hard surface, cannot be combined with other pole tents to make a larger tent, rely on tension from the stakes to stay up so if the ground is soft due to rain they may start to dip, and they have the most poles so customers get less space on the inside.
👉 Cross Cable (High Peak) Frame Tents (my favorite)
Pros: Can be set up on grass or hard surface (will need to drill or use water barrels/concrete blocks for hard surfaces), they look AMAZING, can be combined to make larger tents (in some cases) so you can put together (2) 20×20 tents to make a 20×40 tent (you’ll need a gutter so rain doesn’t fall in between the tents), they have less poles than pole tents so customers get more space inside the tent, and they have an actual frame so they are more sturdy than pole tents.
Cons: They’re heavier than pole tents, take up more room because they have 8-9′ poles that don’t break down, and if you don’t set them up and tension them just right and you get heavy winds or rain then you may come back to find your tent on the ground.
👉 Frame Tents
I don’t know enough about these and frankly they scare the crap out of me… but it’s what all the largest and baddest companies seem to use… never seemed beginner appropriate to me but here’s what I do know:
Pros: Virtually no poles in the middle of the tent so customers get the most space.
Cons: TONS of little pieces… they’re like legos.
✅ Step 3. Get the right tent accessories
Your average ticket will shoot up because tent rentals usually include tables, chairs, and often times lights and sidewalls. If I could go back I would only get 6’ plastic folding tables (from Walmart or Costco) as well as white and black chairs… that’s it! Don’t get round tables or linens or any of that other crazy stuff that will just make your operation harder and harder to control. As you grow you’ll learn what other items to get for your area but generally that’s all you need to really kick things off and anything more will only slow you down and confuse your crew causing tons of issues. As for lights our customers LOVE our globe lights and for sidewalls don’t get anything larger than 20′ whether it’s solid or has windows.
✅ Step 4. Know when you’re out of your league…
If you get a request for a huge tent that you clearly have no experience with, don’t go out and buy it lol. Just send them to one of the big dawgs in your area and you would have dodged a bullet embarrassing yourself like I did a few times… you’ll get requests for heaters, dance floors, fans, and other accessories… don’t do it just pass and stick to the easy jobs. Dance floors are the absolute worst 😂.
✅ Step 5. Start with the basics
I recommend you start with 20×20 High Peak Frame Tents and set them up 2 days before the event so you have time to make it right if you forget something or get stuck. It also helps so that the tents don’t get in the way of your inflatable setups… we setup our tents Thursdays/Fridays and pick up Sundays/Mondays.
✅ Step 6. Buy your tents
There are a few tent companies you can buy your first tent from but I’ve only ever purchased from Tent and Table. Their prices are appealing for those new to tents and I highly recommend you check them out.
✅ Step 7. Learn from those with experience
If you’ve read this far and are interested in the checklist I give our crew so they don’t forget anything as well as the things we go over with the customer to make sure their yard is ready for setup, you can request that below.