Building on pandemic standards
By Casey Bowden Delores Crum, CERP
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Building on pandemic standards

Delores Crum, CERP

Last year, this column entitled “What’s in store?” was written against the backdrop of the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdowns, pre-vaccine gathering restrictions, social distancing and mask-wearing requirements, plus all “the rest.” Event rental operators, for the most part, were facing steep revenue losses, applying for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, and awaiting Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). In July 2020, we wrote these words: “Let’s proceed with the hope and belief that, in the coming months, our clients and customers will be both free and willing to hold weddings, parties and special events.” I’m happy to report, that at least in our neck of the woods in Central Texas, these hopes here have been fulfilled — and we couldn’t be more grateful.

We predicted, just a year ago, that “if all goes well, the party and event segment of our industry, so hard-hit in recent months, could be in for a very busy wedding year.” Today, that’s exactly what we’re seeing. Here in Central Texas, while we’re not at 100 percent of our pre-pandemic 2019 earnings, we’re doing well by pandemic standards. We hope your experiences equal or exceed our own.

This year’s projections about what’s hot now — in addition to the weather — and what will be popular as we move into the winter months and look toward next spring and summer, reflect a continued recovery scenario. That’s certainly what we’re expecting. Here’s what we’re seeing, reading about and anticipating.

For starters, let’s talk linens. Lots and lots and lots of velvet linens. We’ve added a plethora of colors, and even a few embossed velvet options to our linen lineup. Sheer, flowing, “free-form” table runners, gracing the table’s center and reaching to the floor, continue to be popular in our market, on Pinterest, in wedding publications and on wedding-specific websites. Textural linens and napkins are in high demand as well. These natural-feeling fabrics, though popular in our market for 10 or so years now, continue to rent well.

Members of the Premiere and Party Time teams note these customer requests, listed in popularity order, as leading our fall 2021 and spring 2022 wedding rental outlook:

  • Black-and-white dance floors.
  • Round, mostly white, bars.
  • Rattan, wicker and wood chargers.
  • Event holders who flirted with copper and rose gold seem to have returned to classic gold choices, often paired with basic black.
  • Black chairs, black chairs in combination with wood or, for that matter, black anything, is appearing on our fall wedding scene. Who knew that “Dark Academia” was going to be a thing?
  • In direct contrast to Dark Academia, modernist, art deco and minimalist looks, boho, woodsy and natural remain popular wedding and décor choices.

We’re delighted to see savvy wedding couples decide, early on in the planning process, for a tented ceremony and/or reception. Instead of an “if we must” inclement weather backup plan, wedding couples and other event holders are regularly embracing and maximizing, as their first option, tented ceremony and reception environments. Our experience has shown relatively recent advances in 3-D software to be helpful in this regard.

This development has given rise to more elaborate and impressive tent décor options and finish-out treatments. We’re seeing statement florals for the tent entrance, suspended florals hovering over rather than resting on the dining tables, and chandeliers — from rattan to gold to crystal, and string lights — either by themselves or in combination with tent ceiling draping. Tent pole wraps, either greenery, fabric or some other creative approach, continue increasing in popularity as well.

What customers are asking for is important, and keeping up with the latest product trends is a must. As a last word, I would encourage those in the equipment and event rental industry to remember that providing exceptional customer service, whatever that means in the context of whom you serve and what you do, is equally relevant as we move forward into 2022. u

Delores Crum, CERP, is president of Premiere Events and Party Time Rentals, Austin, Texas, and the American Rental Association (ARA) Event Rental Shared Interest Group chair.

Read what industry leaders are saying about recovery in their region.

Casey BowdenCasey Bowden

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