Winning with Rental Sports Attractions

June 1, 2011 No Comments

When Olga Gomez started her business Chicago Moonwalks, in the windy Illinois city, she offered one sports-themed bouncer as an inflatable rental choice on her Web site-parked business. Today customers can find nine sporty options, including four sports combos, a sports water slide, three various sports bounce houses and also interactive and competitive games.
Gomez observed, “Most kids play sports today rather than watch TV and unless they’re really small, they want what matches up with their age level.”
It’s just a matter of the presence of sports-related offerings on the Web site, Gomez concluded. “It’s a given that if you just offer one or two, you’ll get feedback and then can expand, whether inflated or bounce house or party favors, as long as you have something up.”
Gomez has discovered that her customers often order the sports-themed items by default. “They’d rather have it if a character they’d chosen isn’t available because sports doesn’t clash with other event themes. And even if an event isn’t sport-related, they’ll still choose it.”
Often, if the weather turns hot, last-minute callers choose sports equipment if what they’re looking for isn’t available. They often don’t state specifically that sports is what they’re looking for or if it’s merely suitable for their event, Gomez said.
Formerly, All 4 The Fun Of It, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and accessible through their Web site, was all about casino-themed parties. Serving clients in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, the company has expanded into a variety of themes, including sports. And if a request isn’t listed on the site, customization covers it.
The company provides a mobile Sports Bar theme that includes Pool Tables, Air Hockey, Foosball, Shuffle Board, Golden Tee, Mega Touch, Ping Pong, Giant Video Games, Live Sport on Giant Video Screens, for over 30 sports-themed parties per year, said Owner Tim Spradlin. “They used to be more for after proms and graduation parties and now have moved into the corporate world.”
Besides the Internet, the yellow pages is an entity that merely holds the door open to the business, Spradlin said.
The sports jumper available at Krazy Jumperz in Manteca, Calif., is a popular item because it’s neutral, said business owner, Rochelle Rich. It doesn’t specify one sport or gender. A different type of ball is poised at each tip of its four corners, and so it appeals to all the kids that are into sports, whether male or female. Rich noted, “Some kids don’t want equipment to be too girly and not too boyish.”
The company operates only during the summer months, and in that six-month period, the sports jumper is requested almost every weekend. Customers find it through the yellow pages, the Web site, word of mouth, and also flyers Rich distributes. Many customers return year to year and Rich’s goal is to provide widespread choices at the best price solution for consumers in the area.   
For now, potential clients of Ebe Events and Entertainment, based in Philadelphia, Pa., are invited to experience a preview of their event through showcases. Until the company gets a facility up and running to showcase sports equipment, part-owner Steve Meranus doesn’t expect sports-themed event requests to surpass those for electronically interactive games. Most business is derived for client wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, corporate and special events. Those for the younger set, the 10-to-15 age bracket, are the events that customers most request the sports setup.  
For the current 12 to 15 sports-themed events per year that Ebe enhances, the company supplies sports voice-overs, and shuffle golf as well as the other hands-on table games and realistic video game play sports options, air hockey, car racing and track, dome hockey, horse racing, Pop-a-Shot basketball, Quarterback Challenge and virtual reality sports games.  Though said Meranus, anything computer-related is more popular. “Kids want to have parties according to what they have at home, and if they have a sports-related party, prefer to go to a sports facility than have inside sports items.”
An adjoining building will be the showcase site for the company’s sports-themed offerings from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Meranus is convinced, “To make anything go forward they have to have an experience with it,  get in and try it, put hands on, and to like what they see they have to be exposed to it more. We fight what they do at home, and instead of throwing a baseball around the backyard, they’d rather play baseball on the computer.”
Traditionally, boys will be boys and if boys are involved in any way in a request from Happy Kids Inflatables, located in Plant City, Fla., it will likely be for a Sports combo with a pool attached that has the various sports balls on top or sports bouncers, said owner, Todd Martin. The usual age range asking for the sports-themed items to be delivered to the event location is 4 to 12.  
The 50 clients per year that have ordered the sports equipment have found Happy Kids Inflatables through pay-per-click on Google or Yahoo search engines and Martin’s Web site design company has made that possible through the key word tags they’ve associated with the site.
Many party theme shoppers look to the inflatable rental companies when a birthday party rolls around.
Most customers that contact Incredible Inflatables of Norcross, Ga., are looking for activities for birthday parties as well as church functions. Those that order the sports ball-topped moon walk, bungee run, or fast pitch baseball are having parties for basketball or soccer end-of-season celebrations. Attendees vary in age from high schoolers interested in the joust and bungee runs to the elementary age kids that enjoy the moon walk.
Business owner, David Kochan noted that various sports little leagues he’s contacted or has sponsored are some of the sources of the approximately 20 sports-themed parties per year that his company has secured as clients.  
All the Fun Inflatables, LLC of O’Fallon, Mo., offers a sports-themed bouncer, bungee run and jousting for the sports-themed parties that clients have organized at their homes, as many as 30 per year or at least one per weekend in the warm weather months, said owner, Pam Dilallo. Most party planners center themes around birthdays though many families of 5 to 18 year olds respond to her advertisements, Web site and direct mailings for sports events.   
Birthday parties keep Lubbock Inflatables in Lubbock, Texas, busy. Denise Hernandez, part-owner with her husband, Jerry, said that many young boys, between the age of 6 and 12 are pleased that the sports jumper shows up at their houses for the birthday party and often the 20-plus orders for the sports jumper that come in per year are requested because other choices are already rented out.  
As Gomez stated regarding the sports theme, “It’s very adaptable.”  -

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