Strategies for the Changing Party Landscape
Inflatable amusements add an extra dash of fun to everything from a small backyard birthday party to a large corporate event. Amusement companies offer their expertise and often manpower at these events to ensure that all guests have a safe and enjoyable experience.
For eight years, Mike Wilbur has owned Airplay Events in Davis, Calif. While Wilbur started out renting bounce houses for smaller events, he found the market got too crowded so he re-positioned his company to become a full-service entertainment rental company servicing larger events for colleges, churches, corporations and communities.
“When we started out, there were not that many people who were in this business, so we did all-size events. But then there was an emergence of small operators and some who run their businesses out of their garages or homes, so we re-focused and began catering to the larger events.”
The larger events require more interactive and complex inflatables, which require staff to be there, but Wilbur said having staff on site for the large events puts customers, and him, at ease.
“We have a wide variety of rental amusements including bounce houses, large slides, rock climbing walls and mechanical bulls,” Wilbur noted. “We now do between 25 and 40 events per month during our busy season, which runs April through Halloween.”
While the smaller bounce houses do not require his staff to monitor use at all times, Wilbur does require that there is a designated adult on hand for the smaller bounces who is there to get written and oral instruction on the operation of the bounces. For amusements such as the rock climbing wall and mechanical bull, his staff is present during the event.
“It is common sense on our part to have attendants working the more complicated amusements. The insurance companies also like it when we have our staff monitoring those amusements. The small bounce houses are not that difficult to manage. As long as there is adult supervision at all times, the bounce houses work out fine.”
As owner of Jumpity Jump Rentals in Sacramento, Calif., Ryan Ali has witnessed his business bloom from a small party rental company to one that serves from Sacramento to the Bay Area. Jumpity Jumps has a staff of 10 people who do everything from delivering and monitoring inflatables to picking them up at the conclusion of events.
“We offer a wide variety of inflatables from bounce houses to water slides to combo slides, interactive boxing rings, obstacle courses, joust inflatables, rock walls plus concessions and everything anyone needs for a party. We are a full-service party rental company, and we book everything from the small backyard party to church festivals, community days to corporate events.”
For the larger events, Ali has an attendant stay with the inflatables and amusements such as the rock walls. For the smaller backyard affairs, his staff will give designated adults written and oral direction on the bounce house or inflatable.
“The smaller inflatables are easy to operate and monitor if everyone follows the rules and instructions,” noted Ali. “Leaving the inflatables in the hands of designated adults makes sense as they are covered under homeowners’ insurance when the bounces are in a backyard of a private residence. We carry separate insurance on the more complicated amusements such as rock climbing walls, so the bigger events are where we have our attendants stay.”
Based in Rialto, Calif., All Star Jumpers caters to the smaller party customer. The inflatable amusement company rents out bounce houses, water slides and combo bounces for mostly birthday parties and church events. The company, which books about 15 events per weekend during the summer months, does not require attendants on the premises but ensures that a designated adult receives full instruction in the correct operation of the bounces.
“The bounces are not complicated. We have them set up for people before the party begins and the party host is given written and oral instruction on how the bounce is to be operated properly,” said Marina Morales, owner of All Star Jumpers. “If an event is at a private residence, homeowners insurance covers the bounce operation. If it is at a public venue, we provide insurance for the use of the bounces. We are very careful in how we operate our company and we have been around a long time, so we have established a solid reputation.”
Matt Akers is president of Anytime Bouncers, which is a division of the full-service entertainment company Anytime Entertainment Inc. of Orangevale, Calif. Akers, who is also a clown and juggler, rents out 12 bounces for birthdays, weddings and for church and community events.
“We do about 40 events per month. The inflatables are still very much in demand at parties and events. People like their guests to always be entertained,” Akers said
Along with bounce houses, Anytime Bouncers provides other amusements including obstacle courses, dragon inflatable, animal-themed inflatables, baseball and dunking booths plus Akers provides jugglers, clowns and magicians.
“We are a full-service company. When it comes to the inflatables, we do not have an attendant who stays with the bounces at all times,” Akers explained. “We provide instructions with all our rental agreements and we make sure that an adult on the premises understands the correct operation of the inflatable.”
Akers, who has owned his company for 12 years, has witnessed how the inflatable rental industry has grown.
“When I started, there were only a few companies out there providing these amusements for parties and events,” he said. Now, with so many smaller events “I had to adapt and offer more and make sure that my company maintains a reputation for providing the best service no matter the size of the event. To me, everyone gets top-notch service. I don’t care if it’s a birthday party for a five-year-old or a corporate event for 100 CEOs. Everyone is equally as important,” he said.
Located in Santa Rosa, Calif., Party Jump has made parties bounce for more than 20 years. Owned by Ann and William Verity, Party Jump has evolved from small bounce houses and backyard birthday parties to one of the premiere rental inflatable companies for larger events.
“We have bounce houses, 85-foot zip lines, interactive inflatables, Disney-themed inflatables and water superslides, and the demand for these amusements keeps growing for us,” Ann Verity said.
With the company’s emphasis on larger events, Party Jump’s policy is to have an attendant monitoring each amusement.
“We have a reputation for professionalism and outstanding service, so we want our customers to feel safe and comfortable with whatever they rent from us. When we did the small backyard parties, having attendants there with the small bounces was not as important as they are easy to operate and we always gave written and oral instructions, but as the events get bigger, it’s much better to have an attendant there for the customer, and it is a must for amusements such as the rock climbing wall,” she said. –