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.
WRITTEN BY: ALEXA GOLD