Inflatables and bounces have become staples at both small backyard parties and large community and corporate events. While some bounces are still as popular as they were a decade ago, bounce rental companies are always looking for a new inflatable that will become the next “must have” at their clients’ events.
As president and owner of Bouncetime Jumps in Vista, California, Ron Ratajczak offers a variety of inflatables including bounce houses, jumps and interactive obstacle courses for events that range from children’s birthday parties to church festivals and corporate outings. The company, which also operates a full-time party planning service, is now one of the leading bounce companies in the San Diego area.
“We have been in business for 15 years and we have seen trends in inflatables come and go,” said Ratajczak. “What we have learned is that the kids tell us what is going to be the most popular bounces. Adults can guess all we want, but it’s the kids who determine the next big thing.”
Ratajczak credits the computer knowledge that children possess today with determining which bounces will be successes.
“It is the kids who will look up the bounces online and call and ask for a certain inflatable or bounce. If I say I have it, then they put their mom or dad on the phone to book the event,” he said. “They know exactly what is out there and what they want to try out. There is no doubt that they decide an inflatable’s success.
At present, Ratajczak notes that it is the interactive jumps, obstacle courses, basketball hoops inside the jump, ladders and slides inside the jump and waterslides that are in demand.
“The interactive obstacles are great because they keep children busy for so long and both athletic kids and non-athletic kids enjoy them. The same is true for the water slides. They are refreshing and just a lot of fun for everyone.”
Ratajczak said that while it is important to have products that satisfy his main demographic, which is children, it is equally important to have the reputation for customer service as that is what is noticed by the parents and event planners.
“We have a long-established record for service and we are proud to say that 50 percent of our business comes from referrals. In this day and age where many competitors are no longer in existence, we have thrived, and it is not only the bounces we provide but the care we take with each client. Customer service is the best product anyone can offer. ”
Magic Jump Rentals in Sun Valley, Calif., books on the average 500 events per month, ranging from small backyard parties to larger community or charity events. The company has about 180 bounces, interactive obstacles courses and water slides in its inventory. For General Manger Arthur Bagumyan, the bounces and the small combo inflatables are still the most popular with both children and parents.
“The bounces and small combos are tried and tested,” he noted. “They have been at a lot of events and people know and trust them. The kids like the interactive obstacle courses too, but the inflatables that I think have filled a void in this industry have been the EZ Combo inflatables, which are manufactured by our sister company Magic Jump in Burbank. The reason is the rental price.”
According to Bagumyan, bounce rentals traditionally started at $50 and the next level of bounces cost about $150, but the smaller EZ Combo added a middle ground for rental costs, about $110 to $120.
“Price is always important and so is safety and customer service,” he added. “When we have an event, our clients have to know we are there for them. This is why we are successful. We give better than 100 percent to each of our customers. However, if I had my wish list on a bounce that I think would fill a great void, it would be a waterslide where it is impossible for anyone to slip. They are starting to work on this but the materials are not there quite yet in my view. That would be the best bounce.”
With its location near many tech companies in California, BounceHouseRentals.Me of Riverside has rented out bounces to customers hosting small, backyard parties to corporations such as Google and Microsoft.
“Our clients do run the gamut,” explained Jeff Schweiger, Jr., owner of BounceHouseRentals.Me, which along with renting out bounces now holds events at its Family Entertainment Center that is mainly geared to private parties. “For those who need a place for an event, we have the FEC. It’s not open to the public, but we are starting to hold a lot of bookings at our facility.”
Schweiger still sees that modular, combo and interactive bounces remain popular with customers, and he doesn’t see this changing.
“My customers ask for certain bounces, but I have never heard them say ‘If only you had something like this,” he explained. “I think a void that customers face is one that comes from a lack of customer service or bad customer service. You can have the most modern bounce on the planet, but if you don’t treat your customers right, they are not going to rent it from you.”
BounceHouseRentals.Me, which has been in existence for four years, now has two full-time employees and several part-time workers and temps as well.
“This is a tough business,” Schweiger said. “There are a lot of companies that have folded up and a lot of people who do it cheaply as a side business. They don’t get the importance of accountability and service and they don’t take the time to see how the industry can improve and how customer service will usher in more clients and then more products will follow. It’s rare in this business to find a company that has crossed the $150,000 in revenue threshold.”
Raul Barcena has owned Bounce SD in Chula Vista, Calif., for three years. The company, which began as an offshoot of a party rental service, now services mostly weekend parties and smaller events.
“Our main demographic are the small party hosts,” Barcena said. “We can do larger events, but we like the smaller parties. We can offer outstanding service and attention, and that is very important to us.”
With his location in southern California where backyard space is small, Barcena knows that the popularity of the small bounces and combos will not fade.
“People just do not have the room in their yards for these big obstacle courses or complicated inflatables. They need something that will allow kids to have fun safely.”
Barcena purchases his bounces from Ninja Jump because they have a full line of licensed bounces and combos featuring Disney, Pixar, Hello Kitty and Warner Brothers characters.
“I prefer that the bounces be truly licensed because those companies insist that quality materials are used in the manufacturing of the bounces. I don’t think new bounces will fill a so-called product void down the road, but I think if there are new bounces with better materials, we will see those inflatables become the standard. We need to maintain quality if the industry is going to continue to grow. We are dealing with mainly parents of children, and so we have an obligation to keep them as safe and happy as we possibly can.” –
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