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event planning

February 20, 2017


Last year, I started learning the technical side of tented events and infrastructure—a field that I thought would be relatively easy to get adjusted to. I figured most clients would usually have some idea of what they’re looking for, especially when they’re planning an event in their own backyard. “I’m looking for a tent,” they say. That’s where the translation begins.


As a newcomer to events, I still clam up at times when people ask for a tent. There are many types of tents, tent parts, staking/ballasting alternatives and ways to configure tents into a space that people may not be aware of. As I’m learning to navigate through these concepts, I’m actually learning a new language: tent.


My first day at work was on Randall’s Island, where I was initially presented with fun words like “solar system” and “fiesta.” This reassured me that the job would be a piece of cake. However, over the course of the day, my first lesson in tenting led to uncharted territory. By the end of the day, I was introduced to gable ends, guylines, and the use of meters instead of feet. Instead of shying away from these unfamiliar subjects, I chose to embrace the challenges that come with learning “tent speak.”


Clients often call-in and describe the size of the tent they’re looking for and how many guests are expected to attend their event. Taking this request and adapting it to a live event space isn’t as simple as just “looking for a tent.” Often times, a site inspection needs to be conducted in order to evaluate the accurate measurements of a space and what limitations are set at the location. For this reason, math is the only tried-and-true solution to all building plans.


After collecting data about an event space, it’s important to offer options for safe tenting that also agree with the event theme. I often send pictures of possible tenting options to clients as a way to guide them through alternatives that fit the vision of their event. On the back end, I’m translating the client’s vision with our crew into terms that they understand for building processes. The crew and I share blueprints and equipment lists, and really, speak tent.


I don’t see myself as a sales associate, I see myself as a translator. The more I practice reading, writing, and communicating “tent”, the easier it becomes to introduce clients to concepts that I’m learning along the way— especially when it pertains to the safety of their guests.



December 13, 2016


Whether you’re hosting an event, planning, or executing, it usually goes without saying that nobody wants it to rain. When most people envision their event live, they often imagine—or at the very least, hope for—the epitome of sunshine and rainbows (literally and figuratively). This is especially true when the event is outdoors. Well, perhaps I’m jaded after all these years of working with a tent company, but I think it should also go without saying that just because you don’t want it to rain doesn’t mean that it won’t.

Enter the Rain Plan! A rain plan is essentially a Plan B that works in conjunction with your Plan A in case the weather report starts to take a turn for the worse. My favorite client response which I get all too often when asking how set up may change if we’re expecting weather is to the tune of, “Well… It’s not going to rain for OUR event. (Insert nervous laughter & forced smile.)” I assure them that I, too, want the weather to cooperate, but regardless, we should be prepared for both scenarios.

Although I can understand the natural initial resistance to planning for things not to go your way, I’ve come to find that, like many things in life, having a Plan B isn’t such a bad idea. Just think of all the perks!

Although you can’t control the weather, you can control your budget. Keeping a rain plan in mind will help to ensure that your financial backers aren’t in for a big surprise even if the weather surprises you. What’s even better? If the weather does decide to cooperate, you might have a chance at coming in under budget! Imagine that.

No need to worry about “What happens if…”  If it happens, you have your lovely little Plan B at your fingertips, just waiting for you to pull the trigger. This is what we call “peace of mind,” and what MasterCard would likely call “priceless.” After all, can you really trust the weatherman?

Everything is ready to go, waiting to make you look like a hero. It’s a given that, in the world of events, you’ll have to make some big decisions on the fly. But let’s minimize that, shall we? With a rain plan, you buy yourself the opportunity to carefully think things through and show off all of your advance planning. (At this rate, you may be tempted to do a rain dance.)



June 24, 2016


We have all heard, “It’s not personal, it’s business” and sometimes it’s a healthy approach. In the rental industry, specifically related to private events, it’s often times very personal.


I’ve supported folks planning their wedding, their daughter’s Sweet 16, their son’s graduation party and each time I’m reminded of just how personal.  In most cases, the client has spent a significant amount of time, sometimes years, imagining the event and building up expectations of the vision, the flow and what their experience will be planning and attending.  The responsibility of managing these expectations is on the vendors that support the event. It’s crucial for an event rental consultant to answer questions honestly, maintaining a dialog rich with conversation that helps extract that vision from the client’s imagination to reality. My trick is to imagine how I would want a vendor to treat my mom. If I can live up to her expectations, I’m probably doing something right.


So this is my reminder to myself, my colleagues and my industry that it is business, but it’s still personal.



May 26, 2016

Laura’s Tips for Logistical Considerations in Event Planning

1- Find the right venue

As we all know location is everything! Make sure you find a venue that is not only in the right location but is also the right size for your crowd.

2- Make a production schedule/timeline

The best way to stay on schedule and keep your vendors in synch is to produce a production schedule and run of show.  Don’t forget to leave some time in your schedule for the unexpected: traffic, mechanical failure, lateness. Your success relies on layers of activity.  Leave enough time to have delays.

3- Schedule your vendors to finish setting up at least 1 hour before your event

It is important to give yourself some time to do finishing touches and breathe before guests arrive.  If your show ready time is right before doors, you might not have an opportunity to fix or prevent problem areas, welcome early arriving guests or get a photo of your work!

4- Create a contact sheet with key vendors and players.

It’s a best practice to gather contact information for your team and vendors onto a one page contact sheet (paper or digital).  Be sure it’s at your fingertips and be sure to distribute the information to other key players.

5- Plan for truck offloading.

Check to see if your venue has a loading dock area. If they don’t, make sure you have a designated area for your vendor trucks to off load.

6- Avoid congestion between vendors.

Try to schedule vendors at different times as to avoid congestion in the loading dock for load in and load out. It will make the setup process much smoother.

7- Don’t forget about load out.

What goes up must come down.  While strike and load out are must faster than set up, it’s important to allow enough time for all your vendors to access their equipment and your layers are considered in reverse.

8- Check for obstacles for setup

If your event is on a second floor, on grass or has tight access to get to make sure your vendors are aware so they can plan accordingly.

9- Prepare for rain but hope for the best

Scrambling at the last minute is inevitable but if you can avoid as much scrambling as possible it will make you less stressed. Make sure you have a backup plan in place a head of time.


July 01, 2013

Spatially Speaking

I recently took a multiple intelligence test, where I learned that I’m both spatial and logical and scored lower in literary intelligence.  I suppose this makes sense as you read my less than eloquent entries.

What I learned by taking this test is that everyone has their own best way to digest information.  I wish that I considered this over the past decade while I provided folks with the best event solutions.  Since everyone has a different set of talents, strengths, weaknesses and interests, it’s unfair for me to burden my hurried New York clients with techy-talk details when they just want a tent. There are times, of course, to show off your knowledge, but determining the appropriate time to have those conversations is a whole other skill.  I don’t think now is the time.

I am often commissioned to assist my clients with both infrastructure and populating an event space. If you are fortunate enough to have a field and lots of space, you are in luck.  There are super easy ways to estimate how much space you need to accommodate event attendees.  Dinner & dancing (18 sq ft per person) Cocktails (5-8 sq ft per person).  There are a bunch of different theories for populating the space, but in general, you want to make sure the whole room can see the stage or focal point, make sure guests don’t have to travel too far for food or beverage and always make sure emergency exits are marked and accessible. You’ve got yourself happy guests while fulfilling the event safety requirements.

If you are not so lucky and are considering bunk beds for seating, I can offer a few general event tips. When it comes to small spaces and tents (especially for events in New York), there is not much of a decision to make – you go with what fits.  My team is great at helping out with that.  Your decisions will be about the type of seating and the flow of traffic. Since I’m sensitive to the back of house operation, I like to consider the staff access to their storage/prep area. Well stocked bars and food means happy guests. I’m also not a fan of a bar too close to the entrance of an event.  Event planners know that folks tend to stop and linger and it becomes crowded.  Once you have placed that, you’ll want to consider seating.  I love a lounge area, and think they work great in many applications, but it eats up space. The footprint of one sofa that seats 3-4 people is the same as a table that can seat 10 people.  Also, round tables typically use more space than long tables.

There are plenty of other rules out there and some very gifted event planners that can coach you through the process.  Happy planning!

February 27, 2013

Executing a successful event is simple… Smile.

I’m a New York native who was taught that if people are smiling at you, they are crazy or just tourists.   While occasionally one or both may be true, I’ve found smiling is a very useful tool and since happy people tend to smile, the mere act of smiling can lift your spirits and that of the folks around you.

Since the event market in the Northeast has its peak season for events, everything seems to happen at once.  When it happens, it fast paced, high stress and easy to get a little cranky. If the event industry is your livelihood, you want your project to go well, but crankiness is contagious. So my event planning tip to you is: if you are in a bad mood, it will affect productivity.

This entry is a reminder to me, my team and my friends – to smile. It’s just a party, man.

January 16, 2013

Event Permits: A Necessary Evil

It seems unfair to have to get permission to have a party in your own yard, but there are event rules and protocol that varies by location and it all exists for a reason.

For the most part, your local authorities are interested in tents, stages, generators, large crowds, high noise levels, street & emergency vehicle access, and food and alcohol regulations on large events.  Unfortunately, the rules vary by village, town, county and state so it’s nearly impossible to break it all down.  The important part is to be aware and do your research.  These permits are in place to help ensure that event safety is a top priority.

The first and easiest option is to hire someone to manage the permitting process.  I believe it’s the best solution for large events, especially those open to the public. If your event is more modest in size, you can find information on permitting for most areas online.  If you’re planning an event in New York, New York City’s website is very helpful in breaking down the process: Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management

Since my favorite topic is tents and tent installation, I’ll save you the research and remind you that at the moment, the NYC Department of Buildings requires a work permit for any temporary structure exceeding 400 square feet.  This permit involves an engineer’s stamp, a few weeks and some fees.  There are folks that specialize in just this and they are fantastic at making the permitting process easy.

And for our friends planning a Long Island event, I’m happy to report that unlike your taxes, your permit process is typically less expensive.  To be safe, it’s best to check with your village, town and county for any permits required.  Depending on the complexity of your event, you may not need any permits, but it’s always better to get the information and be prepared.

Another entry complete in the boring files. I promise to talk about a more exciting event planning topic next time.

October 22, 2012

The Importance of Meetings to Event Professionals

I like meetings. It’s no secret.  One of the office jokes is “Are we going to have a meeting about the meeting?”

Since the event industry is pretty no nonsense, especially in New York, it’s hard to rally enthusiasm about sitting down and discussing our event solution in theory when we all know a million details will change between the time of the meeting and the event execution.

I maintain that even with this challenge, there is still reason for meetings.  Short meetings, held often, with just a few notes, and only with the folks related to the topic are a great way to keep focus on the big goals and all the small goals that get us there.


Written by Liz Cann

September 10, 2012

Aesthetic v. Function

In the event industry, there are two teams, separate but equal.  They need each other, they love each other, they hate each other.  It’s the event creative team and the production team.  I’ve been caught, more times than I care to remember, standing between the two event planning teams (or just copied on e-mails) just desperate for resolution. “But this will look better”…. “But this will be easier” is the debate.  I would, like I do, roll my eyes and secretly protest to myself and whoever would listen that the argument was a waste of time.

And then happened to me. I met with a client, who fell in love with a concept for their New York event. I fell in love with the concept as well.  This is the part where I eat my words.  However, that perfect concept couldn’t be executed due to budget and venue restrictions.  What do you do when something’s got to give? I had to, under much duress, compromise the idea and find another event solution that gave us an end result closest to our goals.

While I’m sure this is obvious and hilarious to professional producers and production managers to battle this daily, but for me, it was a great exercise in gaining client perspective.  And looking back, I give major kudos to my designer friends who treat their events as living breathing things that have to adapt.


Author: Liz Cann

August 21, 2012

Safety and Your Event

Since we all like events because they are generally happy, it’s a bummer to talk about things like safety and precautions.  And even less fun – talking about emergency evacuations and procedures.

I’m fortunate to say that in over 12 years in the industry and thousands of events, I’ve only had a handful of real emergencies.  Most were unavoidable and directly related to intense weather. Since weather plays such a huge part in the success of outdoor events, it’s essential to have a plan of action in place and develop a way to pass that message to your team and guests.

There are so many details to consider, but as a tent expert, I’ll take this opportunity to review some basic tent safety. I’ll start by noting that our friends who write the rules in New York State say that if winds are over 30mph, you shouldn’t be in a tent.  Reading this, it seems pretty obvious, but I’ve noticed that human intuition seems to draw people into a tent when it’s raining hard with high winds. If a tent in installed properly and weather is severe enough to make it collapse, it will implode, not fly away.  Therefore, you do not want to be inside. Spread the word – my throat is hurting from screaming it in a storm.

I don’t want to alarm anyone. These situations are not common, but if you are prepared, and your team is prepared you’ll have nothing to worry about.


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ptg is a collective of passionate event professionals striving to be the most knowledgeable, progressive, safest event rental company in our region. our goal is to maintain a happy staff and safe operation that adapts to growth and remains committed to quality and service. big enough to serve and small enough to care.