Matt Gershaw, general manager of All Season Rent-All in Greenwood Village, Colo., frequently deals with the customer demographic affectionately known as “Bridezilla.”
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Gershaw considers patience to be the most important attribute in a party planner.
“Patience and a willingness to listen are definitely important,” said Gershaw. “You have to be able to listen to a client when they tell you what they’re looking for, and have the patience to work with them in meeting their needs.” Gershaw, whose employer is a party rental company that plans weddings, bar mitzvahs and corporate events, said offering variety is an excellent way to truly customize an event for a client. “Personal preferences are a huge factor, and that’s why we offer a lot of options in everything we do,” he said. “We have five different kinds of wedding arches, three different types of chafing dishes, and lots of different China patterns.”
According to Tera Robin, owner/partner of Robin Event Rental in Loveland, Colo., helping the clients navigate the wide array of options is an important part of an event planner’s role.
“There are aspects to planning that might not occur to them, all the details from china to trash cans to toilet facilities,” she said. “If you’re having an event at a public place, such as a park, you have to look at what the requirements are. Some places won’t even let you set up a tent. We discuss all of this with our clients.”
Client options tend to be more focused for specialty party businesses like Casino Party Masters in Denver. According to Harry Steinberg, director of operations for the company, the theme of the parties he handles is already determined. “We do casino parties, so when people come to us, they’ve already identified what they want to a large extent,” he said. “Then, beyond the ‘who, what, when and where,’ we establish how many guests there will be, and whether there will be experienced gamblers or people who have never gambled before.”
Steinberg said his company generally provides the “whole experience,” meaning that the poker or roulette tables are usually staffed by Casino Party Masters employees. He said the company also helps clients determine how many of each type of game table they might need.
“Based on what they tell us, we’ll tell them what games they will need and what level of staffing,” he said. According to Brent Hogan, who handles tents and fabric structures for the Wright Group in Denver, some events don’t require as much advice from the company. For example, when his company provided fabric structures for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the job called for unique specifications. “There were a lot of custom items required for that,” he said. “There were a lot of things that were very specific to the event.”
By working to meet such unique client needs, Hogan said his company delivered a successful event. “It went very well,” he said. “It was excellent.” Under less specific conditions, the rental company may need to offer guidance regarding which items the client should rent for their party. According to Stephanie Garcia, event coordinator at Bruno’s Party Time Rental, the types and setups of rental items should be customized to the client’s plans and budget. “When they come to our showroom, we show them the different options, and they pick and choose what they want for their event,” she said. “We go through the pricing with them, and we talk to them about whether they want the items picked up or delivered.”
Party Time Rental has also lent its planning skills to charity events such as the annual Pasta In the Park event at the Myron Stratton Home campus in Colorado Springs. Garcia and her company provided discounted tents, glassware and more to this event, which benefited a local domestic violence charity. “It’s great to be able to help out with an event like that,” she said.
In addition to helping out with a great cause, doing high-profile fundraisers is a great way to showcase your party planning artistry. Steinberg said for the past few years, his company has provided casino-themed entertainment to charity fundraising events for Kroenke Sports, which owns the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche hockey team. “The players come, and the fans come, and the event does really well, it’s raised a lot of money for charity,” he said.
Although every party rental business has had a few memorable events that stand out, ideally a good party planner should be able to make any event distinctive, said Nathalie Medina, sales representative for Special Events Rental in Chatsworth, Calif. “When people call and all they need are a few tables and chairs, there’s obviously not as much room for creativity,” she said. “But whenever someone comes in with an open mind, we can really make a difference.”
For Medina, the first crucial step is to get a sense of the client’s style and offer choices based on these observations. “Being knowledgeable, we can begin to offer ideas the client might not have thought of,” she said. “It’s all being intuitive about their personality, their likes and dislikes – being able to connect with the client.” –