Capturing Corporate Parties
April 4, 2013
Strategies for Building Business from Party Rental Companies
Like enduring a long winter, cutting corners can be dreary. But even companies that are watching their spending closely continue to offer morale-boosting events for employees. For rental companies seeking to capture this business, being the chosen provider involves more than offering inflatables.
The companies with the means want a tailor-fitted event and yet want amusement rental companies to tell them what they want. To do that, said Jesse Zogleman, vice president of operations at Moonwalks For Fun in Wichita, Kan., it becomes more about the relationship than product. Though primarily serving the local and surrounding states, Moonwalks bounces all around the country, wherever the client is located, and contrary to common practices, said Zogleman, “We don’t contract out services and products such as tables, chairs, sound, bar and food, which many companies think they can’t afford. We’re a turnkey company, providing 100 percent of services, which is why we don’t have a decline in business. We show each customer affordability and design each party around them from location, décor and entertainment to food, drink, and even hospitality level for when they set foot in the door.”
The only similarity between accounts, whether Fortune 500 companies, law or accounting firm, is the detailed process of arriving at what they want in an event. “There is no right way or wrong way, it’s their way,” affirmed Zogleman, “based on a series of questions we ask new clients. They come to us because they heard we’re outside the box, they get better value for the dollar, we do a full consult on their expectations, to determine what they’ve done in the past, what they like, didn’t like, and worked best. We use our ears to figure out the best party to create the wow factor.”
To know their audience, Zogleman’s board of professionals works with the client’s planning committee, and sends a survey to the employees to inquire what they want. Questions determine who the guests are, who they want to entertain, the ages of children, the time of year, indoor/outdoor, wet/dry, to lead to answers that specify the perfect units for the event.
Though Zogleman knows what’s popular down to the trendy colors for the year, customization dictates. “We’re known for never ever duplicating the same event twice. We’re innovative and produce raw, new attractions for each event.”
Moonwalks configures hundreds of corporate events per year, which comprise 35 percent of the company’s business. To promote oft neglected team-building events, Zogleman sends clients information that encourages spicing up their core teams with affordable and novel means to create productive teams that represent their brand.
Those companies that downsize can’t very well justify parties for the remaining employees, said Sally Mitchell, part-owner of the 23-year-old Sun Country Amusements, based in Bloomingdale, Ga., so her business has slowed a bit in the past few years.
Nevertheless, longevity in the business has taught Mitchell well what works with each group. “Our appeal is a large selection of unique units such as the Paddle Boat Pond and various inflatables, and being able to work with groups and guide them because lay people don’t know what works with what group.” Mitchell also knows slow moving lines do not work and having something for each age group from toddlers to teens to adults assures fast-moving lines.
Companies that hire Sun Country for events utilize their services and components, book caterers through them and incorporate their own ideas into the event, for example, the welders union. A karate school open house, a company picnic, a fire department party, a large school function, these are the types of events approached with flexibility rather than restricted by theme, noted Matt Walters, manager at Washington Bounce House in Tacoma, Wash. “No Dora the Explorer or Spiderman units. They just want the generic, unisex units and more important is flow of activity and mixing it up with a good combo so the line keeps moving. The small children groups usually can rotate between an obstacle course or giant slide combined with a more confined bounce house.”
In many cases, companies look to amusement rentals to provide ready-made themes. Celebration Authority, based in Mundelein, Ill., specializes in corporate events and hosts hundreds per year. Their claim to fame over the past 20 years, said company President Mitch Dicker, is high-end, interactive, quality corporate entertainment.
Corporate customers favored the challenge of creating events with an Olympian twist in 2012, recalled Dicker, incorporating activities for the various departments to compete with one another and culminating in activities where all participated at once. “It’s a great theme because events rated high for engaging, interactive, participatory fun for all involved.”
For 2013, the push is on at Celebration Authority for good old-fashioned carnival and circus themes, and already Dicker is finding that it’s highly respected in a corporate market undergoing everyday budget cuts. “They’ll have an event for employees to go to a circus, whimsical fun, not threatening, where families can go to have a good time.”
A full execution event or one activity can fulfill corporate team-building objectives. Celebration Authority fashions any level morale booster, based on the company mission or specific objectives, or designs activities that focus on developing certain skills.
Effective for Utah Ultimate Events based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, has been to cater to the category of corporate customers that want to be presented with themes and then customize their choice to fit to them. Carey Crow, part-owner of the family business with husband, Robert Crow, noticed that the water theme was big in 2012, a year that saw 100 events to satisfied completion, which amounts to about 40 percent of corporate accounts plus many school events. She expects the same interests to continue into 2013, which is the water theme within the family fun events. The season begins April 15th and lasts through October as water slides and mechanical surf boards see lots of action. In addition, the company owns a suds machine, new to Salt Lake though popular elsewhere and a trend popularized on You Tube.
Corporate clients usually stick to a general family fun theme and then customize it themselves, with the company as part of the process. “We suggest inflatables, where to place everything at their event, and for those that give out gift bags or small gifts for kids, where to get them wholesale.”
The most popular team-building theme is Battlefield Live Utah, which builds the mission around a laser tag game barricaded with inflatable walls, requiring participants to work together to accomplish tasks toward goals the corporation specifies Crow works into the design.
The company wins bids with a $2 million liability policy that allows corporations to stage events wherever they choose, good customer service and communication. Crow explained, “We communicate with them all the way through so that we know exactly what they want.” –