New products, improved structures and full-service solutions will help renters distinguish their business.
The tent rental industry is a fragmented, competitive market with thousands of companies competing for events to rent tents and tent-related equipment. The U.S. tent end product market (EPM) increased about 2 percent in 2012, up from 1 percent growth in 2011.
Growth in the EPM tent segment grew by 3 percent in 2013; it is expected to grow by 4 percent in 2014. The party and event rental market grew 6 percent in 2013. It is expected to grow by 7 percent in 2014. The corporate event market improved in 2013, but extravagant events were scaled back. This trend is expected to continue in 2014.
According to a Special Events magazine survey forecast for 2013, 49 percent of party tent rental operators reported they expected to handle more events in 2013, up 2 percent from the previous year’s survey. Specifically, 42 percent of in-house professionals and 55 percent of independent event professionals surveyed reported they would stage more events in 2013 than they did in 2012, an increase of 2 percent.
In 2013, 64 percent of party rental companies reported the poor economy was their number one challenge. In 2012, this was rated slightly higher at 67 percent. These figures are vastly improved over 2011, when 76 percent said the same.
Other challenges are the continuing shortage of skilled labor and reduced client budgets: 68 percent of in-house professionals and 61 percent of independent event professionals surveyed reported this would be their greatest challenge in 2013, similar to 2012.
Fabric suppliers also reported their businesses have been impacted by cheaper, poor-quality tent fabrics imported from China, adversely affecting the reputation of tents with consumers and profitability for all market players. Consumer complaints have increased with the growing use of poor quality, cheaper laminates.
Tent fabric suppliers and tent manufacturers report a gradual shift in the fabrics used to manufacture event tents, shifting from laminated vinyls to more coated vinyls. This has changed the product mix and affected the allocation of resources and sales for suppliers and manufacturers.
Tent rental outlook
In 2014, tent fabric suppliers and tent manufacturers will introduce new products to the event industry to increase sales by offering tent event professionals high-end tent fabrics and structures, especially for clearspans and frame tents. Tent event professionals will enjoy the opportunity to acquire new, improved tent structures to differentiate their business from competitors and more readily meet building and fire code requirements. In 2013, much of the sales growth experienced came from renting add-ons, such as flooring, lighting and tables.
Tent event professionals who thrive will be those who offer full-service solutions. More importantly, they must try to build their business based on producing and delivering quality products and services.