Andrew Chalk, Operations Manager of MUTA, the UK’s trade association for marquees and tents, provides an update on what event organisers should be aware of.
The temporary structure market for frame and traditional marquees has long been highly competitive. The market for newer types of structure such as giant teepees, stretch tents and sailcloth tents is maturing now as more hirers enter the market, making those sectors increasingly competitive too. Hirers have no choice but to innovate and offer distinctiveness if they are to thrive, whether it’s a new product, better service levels, improved safety standards or a dynamic, appealing marketing presence.
Some good advice to those hiring in structures for an event is to choose a hirer with a genuine commitment to health and safety. This will likely result in a better service all round, as the dedication and focus required for hirers to excel in this area usually permeates the whole business.
The best hirers will build you a first-class structure, keep your stress levels low, manage your on-site risk and be a delight to work with. The worst ones will make your event a nightmare. It’s worth checking the hirer’s track record – are they able to provide testimonials or references from recent events? Try to avoid the hirers that start up and ‘have a go’ for a couple of years, and then disappear. Our industry is littered with examples or this.
Pricing is often a key factor but the truism ‘you get what you pay for’ couldn’t be more accurate within temporary structures. Things go wrong in hire businesses all the time…vehicles break down, crew don’t turn up to work, equipment gets lost or damaged. Good hirers have contingency plans and take these things in their stride without the end customer ever being aware. Good hirers have good quality kit too. It’s important to understand that these things cost money, so look for good overall value rather than just the lowest price.
Organisers of public events have a duty of care to both the people involved in erecting the structures for an event, and the public who attend it, so it’s important to work with reputable contractors that adhere to the highest safety standards. As a starting point check if the provider can easily cope with the requirements of your event – will they have enough staff or structures available? Have they successfully handled similar events? Do they have CDM (Construction Design and Managements Regulations) sorted?
It’s essential to check that those working on your site are fully trained and up-to-date with legislation. Many forget how important training really is and a significant number of prosecutions from the Health and Safety Executive cite lack of training. MUTA’s elearning course, StructureSafe, has been designed to help everyone, including event organisers, acquire the key knowledge for working safely on-site. The course is online, interactive, and can be taken anytime and anywhere there is an internet connection.
StructureSafe has proved so successful that some MUTA members use the course as an induction for all new starters (seasonal and full-time).
To find out more, head to Muta.org.uk/online-training. For further expert guidance, MUTA’s Guide to Choosing a Hirer is available to download for free at Muta.org.uk.