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Tents becoming more popular in Australia

Project Briefs | June 1, 2008 | By:

If you lived in Australia, why wouldn’t you want to have an outdoor event? That’s what Australian rental (hire) companies are finding—that tents (marquees) are becoming ever more popular.

“Event organizers are seeing that temporary is best, most versatile and cost-effective,” says Duncan Jaeger, of Jaegers Event Hire, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. “Also, public safety has become more apparent at public events. This has resulted in customers moving away from pole and peg marquees and using structured marquees.”

Jeannette Cuthbert, joint managing director at Excel Events Equipment Hire, Morningside, Queensland, has also seen a shift in clients’ structure choice, and tents in general are becoming more popular. “The number of large-capacity indoor venues at reasonable cost is minimal in Queensland,” she says. “Marquee structures have become quite the ‘in-thing’ to have for functions.”

In Australia, a huge gap between rural and urban settings means cost of fuel is a big factor for job costing. Because Jaegers Event Hire is located in a rural area, Jaeger says, distance is always a consideration. “We always charge for transport,” he says, “and sometimes we will not even quote if the job is a certain distance from our depot.”

Harts Premier Hire Service is located in Melbourne, but the company embraces the chance to do rural jobs. “We have crews doing rural runs every week,” says Harts manager Paul Dobson.

“My country clients expect to be able to get the same as the city folk,” says Ann Hunt, owner of Simply Events, Berri, South Australia. “People seem to like the nicer things in life and put a lot of time into their function to ensure it looks good.”

A severe drought has resulted in tougher work for tent install crews, with stakes bending in unyielding soil, Hunt says. Jaeger says the extremely hard soil means that his team must use jackhammers to drive stakes. Though devastating, the drought may have one small upside for Jaegers. “We have an increasing number of rural-based employees become available due to the prolonged drought,” he says.

Not all companies are as fortunate. “Manual work is not something the younger generation seems to want to do,” Hunt says.

Excel Events uses a creative approach to sourcing labor. “As the work is seasonal, we are able to utilize the transient tourist population,” Cuthbert says. “In particular, we rely on backpackers, who possess a widevariety of skills and abilities.”

In Melbourne, Harts is subject to a strict inspection and permitting process. “Victoria is the strictest state in Australia,” Dobson says. “This has led to a more professional approach to issues such as fire escapes, emergency lights and adequate pegs or weights.”

But as seems to be the case in many countries, the enforcement regime is spotty at best. “There are relatively no codes in our area that are enforced,” Jaeger says. “We are trying to encourage authorities to recognize some of the codes, as we always struggle against cheaper products and competitors that cut corners.”

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