Macon Tent Rentals orchestrates tent installation for an employee appreciation event at five different locations, even as Hurricane Irma threatens the party.
The annual employee appreciation picnic hosted by Navicent Health, Georgia’s second largest hospital, has a unique goal: provide the employees at five campus locations with a similar entertainment and dining experience, more or less simultaneously.
“We are now in our fourth year servicing this event,” says Brian Corrigan, co-owner of Macon Tent Rentals, Macon, Ga. “The request from the client was to provide ample coverage for each campus location based on number of employees.”
It’s no small number. For the 2017 event, held in the second week of September, Navicent planned to feed and entertain about 6,200 people. “For some of the locations, due to the large volume of employees, the client served by shift, so multiple groups of employees (250-plus at a time) were participating throughout the day and into the evening,” Corrigan says.
Adding to the challenges this year, the event happened while Hurricane Irma was affecting much of Georgia. Macon Tent Rentals was ready to reschedule, but thankfully, the storm did not postpone the event.
In an effort to make each year’s event better than the last, Macon Tent Rentals regroups with the client early in the summer to review the plan and consider any changes, including the possibility of moving dates and times.
“The best tool to successfully manage these simultaneous events is lots of communication, early and often,” he says. “Even though this was the fourth year for this annual event, we began reaching out to the client four months in advance. We ensured communication was occurring between our office and the client on multiple levels within their decision-making departments, [including] security, marketing, catering and general logistics. This alleviates a lot of anxiety and provides the reassurances to the client that we are proactively thinking about and planning for every detail regarding their event, while also assuring them that we are both listening to and responding to their needs.”
Corrigan makes a point of frequently communicating directly with supervisors at all five sites to ensure that expectations are met, schedules are adhered to and aesthetics are consistent.
“The client did an excellent job of preemptively providing a point person and contact number for each site so that our crews could efficiently prepare for each site with each of these point persons—site visits, blocking off of parking lots, confirmation of power access points, etc.,” he says.
The review with the client is also the time to iron out the wrinkles that have appeared in past years.
“We have learned that a client’s orange cones in a parking lot don’t necessarily mean that employees haven’t parked in the tent location anyway! This happens,” he says. “[It’s best to] check in with the on-site contacts to ensure all bases are covered and both teams are prepared for an efficient implementation of a well-designed plan.”
Staying on schedule
This year, the client was concerned with the security of tables and chairs at some of the locations due to varying levels of on-site security personnel—a problem that was solved by holding the picnic over a two-day period, with the event at the primary site on first day and the four secondary sites the second day.
“Day 1 included the 40-by-100-foot Anchor Navi-Trac® tent at the primary campus location, while Day 2 included the four secondary campus locations with installations of frame tents, tables, chairs and fans,” he says. “We also scheduled immediate takedown and removal of equipment at three of the locations beginning Friday at 3:30 p.m. The balance of equipment [was] removed the following day.”
The Macon Tent Rentals team consisted of two crews and a total of nine team members to keep installation and takedown running smoothly and on schedule. This year, Corrigan requested an early installation to stay ahead of the game.
“After some negotiation of installation expectations and timing, the client agreed to allow early install of the primary site two days in advance, with the additional installs and equipment coming in one day in advance,” he says. “This was sufficient, allowing our crews to balance not only the logistics of this event, but additional deliveries and installations in the area.”
Tents were staked in grass and asphalt, with one site on a concrete pad requiring drilling/anchors and eyebolts. Permitting for the five sites was lenient, Corrigan says. “Our event specialist, Angie Grant, has worked hard to ensure a great relationship with our local fire inspection teams and has assisted them with updating systems over the past year to now include online submission of plans and tent flame certificates,” he says.
Corrigan received glowing feedback from Navicent Health after the two-day picnic.
“Events such as these allow us to develop and strengthen relationships in the community, not only with the primary organizer of the event, but with the leadership teams at each campus,” he says. “It is a privilege to serve the event needs of the largest employer in middle Georgia and something we do not take for granted, but work hard on each installation to ensure the highest quality of equipment and the best service we are capable of providing.”
Jake Kulju is a freelance writer based in Shafer, Minn.