A recession casualty, company picnics may be on the verge of a comeback.
Fifty-five percent of U.S. companies plan to host a company picnic in 2013—a number that has held steady in recent years, and is down from a pre-recession 64 percent, according to a June report from the Society for Human Resource Management. On the bright side, three percent of surveyed companies reported planning to add a company picnic in the next 12 months.
At least one tent rental company is beginning to enjoy such an uptick.
“There was a point four years ago when we started seeing a lot of that kind of stuff drop off, and now we are starting to see some of it pick back up again,” says Scott Schultz, direct of marketing for Event Central Rentals and Sales, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Large company picnics tend to fall into three types of events, says Scott Woodruff, Event Central president.
“The first type is held on the business site, it’s during the work day, maybe just lunchtime or an extended lunch,” he says. “The company is not investing much more than the rental of tents, tables and chairs, and catering. The second type is a weekend event at an intimate venue such as a regional park, where companies can create a setting at which the families get to know each other.”
These two types offer rental opportunities for tents, grills, serving and dinnerware, tables and chairs, portable restrooms and more. The third kind involves some type of entertainment venue, such as a ballgame, and offers less opportunity for interaction between management, employees and families—and less opportunity for rental services, Woodruff says.
Schultz also notes an upswing in corporate team-building exercises such as ropes courses, for which Event Central has supplied luncheon tents.
Whatever the setting, Schultz stresses the value for his company of a site visit, where he and the client share ideas, examine the site for load in and load out, and discuss timelines and event flow.
“It’s great for us to get on site in front of the client because once we do, they see the value and knowledge that we bring from doing this for years,” Schultz says.