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Tented events in a tough economy

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Tented events can be all about creating a fantasy — a lavish, one-of-a-kind experience for a wedding, fashion show or other event. But in a slow economy, have the budgets for those events become a fantasy as well?

Event planner Dion Magee says he is seeing a slight dip in the highest-end events with unlimited budgets, and clients are asking for cost estimates and shopping around to find the best deal. Those who do have the money to spend expect an ever higher level of service.

People are haggling more and wanting the same look for less money, says Becky Harris. She recommends educating clients, including telling them about fuel costs, to help them deal with sticker shock.

Donny Vasquez, Made in the Shade, agrees that budgets are tighter, but notes that some local festivals that use tents are growing, as gas prices keep people looking for vacation options closer to home.

“Our longtime customers who have huge festivals are planning for bigger [crowds] this year,” he says. “They understand there are costs involved with that. Because they’ve been working with us, we know the jobs now, so as far as us charging for more equipment, our rental prices haven’t changed. As for our delivery costs, we’re going up in gradual steps for long-term customers.”

Jill C. Lafferty is a freelance writer based in Burnsville, Minn.

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