5 Key Considerations before Selecting an Event Coordinator for your Party

Selecting and event rental company for your Portland event is not an easy task!

Portland and Seattle are about to have an absolutely killer summers this year.  Now that it’s March, many companies and individuals are starting to plan their summer events, picnics, and celebrations.  Depending on the size of your event, you may have hired an event coordinator in the past, or are considering hiring one this year. There are hundreds of variables that you can consider when selecting an event planning company or individual. We think there are five topics in particular that are worth focusing on more than others.

Event Coordinator Experience

How much experience does your perspective planner have? Is this a side hobby for them, or have they been doing it full time for decades? Being fresh out of school and eager to coordinate events certainly has an appeal to it, and that eagerness can overcome some lack of experience. But, the thing about an event planner with experience is exactly that, they have been through hundreds or even thousands events over their career, and have encountered and learned from thousands of unique situations. They will have worked in and around Seattle and Portland Venues, and will know how to logistically navigate a variety of situations.  Experience is just one of the five top criteria for selecting an event planner. Before you toss away Novice Natasha, make sure you check out the remaining four criteria.

Event Coordinator Cost

We’d like to think that price shouldn’t be a factor when planning awesome events. Unfortunately, budget are usually a harsh reality when it comes to planning events. Remember Novice Natasha from earlier? This is one area where she may shine. If an inexperienced event coordinator is just getting into the industry, they might have rock bottom pricing just to get their foot in the door and gain the necessary experience. More established, reputable companies are likely to have higher prices, which could affect the amount of entertainment and food you can have at your event. Coordinators charge in a number of different ways,

  • Flat Fee: The Event Planner will charge you a flat rate for their services. Depending on the complexity of your event and the planner’s level experience, you could expect this amount to be anywhere from $500 to several thousand.
  • % of Event Cost: A popular method of charging is to charge a flat 10% to 20% on top of the cost of the event. As an example, if your event budget is $20,000 and the planner charges 15%, you can expect to pay them $3000.  The downside of this cost structure is that you will sometimes have to pay more just because you have more guests. Catering arrangements for example, are often the same for 50 guests as they are for 200 guests, yet you will pay 400% more for the event planner just because you have four times the guest count.
  • Hourly Rate: This method of billing is pretty straight forward.  You are charged an hourly amount for the work that the event coordinator does for your event. Hourly rates can range from $25 – $500/hr. depending on event complexity and the planner’s experience.  If you choose a planner with an hourly rate, make sure you get estimates from the Event Planer in advance, with a maximum hour allowance.  Complicated event situations could quickly escalate your cost and have unintended consequences.

Event Coordinator Network

An Event Coordinator is only as good as their network. What types of equipment rental vendors are they using? What local Portland or Seattle catering companies do they have a relationship with? Do they know where to get rental Soft Serve machines from if your event is in Beaverton?  Have they compiled a list of local Portland and Seattle venues that they have worked at in the past? A planner with a solid network will be able to work more efficiently, with less unknowns and risks.  Finding an Event Planner with a solid Service Partner Network is an insurance policy for event success.

Event Coordinator Portfolio

What type of crazy events has your prospective event coordinator put together in the past? Different from experience, this is about someone’s ability to execute on crazy ideas, unique themes, and logistical nightmares.  Ask to see some of your planner’s previous work. They should already have a portfolio prepared with the work they are most proud of. Similar to a photographer or artist, this is their art, and they will want to show it to you.  The Event Planner’s portfolio can also give you inspiration for your own event, and who better to use, than someone who has done that exact thing before.

Event Coordinator Culture

Perhaps the most overlooked, but equally important factor when considering Event Planners is the company culture or individual’s personality.  You are in the midst of planning your most special occasion for your company, non-profit, or friends. You deserve to be able to work with someone that you can relate to, and that shares your values and goals. Ask your Event Coordinator candidate tough questions about their company culture, and what they expectations of their employees are. How do they complete their own work internally?  The way they execute their events internally will reflect directly on your celebration.  Make sure your future Event Planner’s integrity and culture reflects your own.

That’s a wrap! Our personal recommendation for Seattle and Portland Event Planners is National Event Pros. They are based out of Seattle, WA but do fantastic work all of the nation. Their network is well established, they are priced competitively, and they maintain their own inventory of attractions, giving them a huge depth of unique experience. Regardless of what Event Coordinator you select, make sure they stack up against our 5 key considerations!

 

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Moonwalk Rentals and why Portland now calls them Bounce Houses

These aren't the kind of moonwalk rentals we have in stock...

The history of the Bounce House is a fascinating one. The inflatable fun structures have only been in existence for a total of 57 years! They have received all sorts of names over the years like moonwalk, bounce house, bouncy castle, and so much more.  Why is it that the name moonwalk was the original terminology, and why isn’t it used prominently anymore?

In 1959, mechanical engineer John Scurlock was designing inflatable tennis court covers to manufacture and sell. While he was working on developing the covers, he noticed that his employees were taking turns jumping on the pads.  He recognized the fun they were having as a potential business opportunity, and quickly became the inventor of inflatable domes, tents, moonwalks, and more. His greatest credited invention is the inflatable pillow the firefighters use when jumping out of high buildings. This inflatable pillow has saved thousands of lives over the course of it’s existence.

From the time Scurlock first noticed his employees playing on the inflatable pillow, it took nearly 10 years for him to establish the first moonwalk rental company. The moonwalk rentals were initially called “Space Walks” or “Space Pillows”. The name was appropriate, given that America and Russia’s space race first took off in 1955, just years before Scurlock invented bouncy houses and culminated with the first walk on the moon in 1969. Given America’s obsession with space, and the associated movements in lower or zero gravity environments, it was only natural for “Moonwalk Rentals” to be the best marketing ploy.  The name Moonwalk wasn’t officially coined until 1975, when Neiman Marcus developed an enclosed version of the inflatable with walls around the exterior that prevented kids from falling out (a safety feature we are very grateful for here in Portland and Seattle!).

A very interesting tidbit about moonwalks and bouncy houses is that they have been almost exclusively a rental business.  While there are some low quality bounce houses that you can purchase from Wall Mart and other department store outlets, a majority of the high quality inflatables and bounce house are only available as rentals. Even with the cost of new bouncy houses dropping over the years, the price point still makes it to difficult for people to afford anything other than a moonwalk rental.

As the space race came to an end, America’s focus and fascination with space also slowly died off. The word Moonwalk slowly went away with America’s declining interest. Moonwalk soon came second to many other terms such as bouncy house, bounce castle, jolly jump, inflatable trampoline, and many more.  West Coast cities historically are exposed to trends much later than the East Coast. With Bounce House Rentals originating in Louisiana, the South East, by the time the inflatable had made it’s way over to Portland, it’s no wonder the term Moonwalk had become secondary.

Perhaps with a new and exciting space race brewing, this time out of competition between corporations, and not countries, we will see a resurgence of the term “moonwalk”.  We are definitely fans of space, and the classic terminology has always had a nice ring to it.

If you are looking to bring back a blast from the past with a traditional Moonwalk rental, we can definitely bring one to your local Portland, Hillsboro, Seattle, or Beaverton event this coming summer. Happy Jumping!

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Guide to Portland Park Party Planning

Portland Park events

If you are hosting a corporate picnic, public event, or children’s birthday party at a Portland Park, there are a few things you need to know prior to showing up on the day of your event. Portland parks and recreation department has many rules, restrictions, and fees to consider when you start the event planning process.  Make sure you understand all of the following requirements and restrictions before sending out invites to your guests!

Reservations

The first thing to check when you start planning your Portland park party is if the site you want is available. The Portland Parks & Rec website has an online reservation tool that can be used for both parks and other venues owned by the department.  In addition to being able to see what parks and venues are available, you’ll be able to access tools like maps, venue descriptions, and maximum capacities.  With Portland’s vast inventory of parks and venues, you should be able to find a location that fits your party, even if your primary choice isn’t available. As always, the earlier you start planning your event, the more options you will have.

Fees

There are a several different park fees that you should know going into the planning process. Parks are expensive to maintain, and there is additional liability the city takes on by letting you host a party at a Portland Park. The fees can vary by park location and what type of event you are hosting, but here is the basic rundown,

  • Park Site Reservation Fee: Starts at $21 for simple parties (like a birthday party) but can go much higher depending on the park and amount of space being requested
  • $100 Special Use Fee: If you are planning on your party being more than a simple barbecue, you can count on a special use fee. This is a fee that they will charge you for pretty much anything beyond the simplest of parties.
  • $176 Inflatable Usage Fee: If you are planning on having an inflatable or bounce house at your event, be prepared to pay the City of Portland $176 for each inflatable you have at the park.  This can get pretty pricey depending on how many inflatables you have, so make sure you prepare your event budget accordingly.
  • $66 Vehicle Access Pass: If you have any vehicles or event vendors that need to access the event location, each vehicle will need to have a $66 vehicle access pass. Again, if you have several vendors or a lot of equipment to be brought in, make sure you schedule these costs accordingly in your event budget.

Event Liability Insurance

For any event requiring the use of inflatables, bounce houses, or other specialty equipment, Portland Parks require that you carry a $1 million umbrella insurance policy and list the City of Portland as an additional insured on the policy. This is a simple enough task as long as you select a reputable event rental company.   Most established and licensed rental companies will far exceed the $1 million insured requirement.

Event Layout and Maps

Often there can be gas pipes, electrical, and sewage running beneath park sites. To avoid surprises on event day, send the parks department a layout map of your event ahead of time. The more detail your map has the better. This way, if there is an issue, the parks department will let you know ahead of time what needs to be moved. If you leave this detail to fate, you run the risk of a Park Supervisor telling you to move or shutdown an inflatable ride or bounce house on the day of the event.

Event Hours

Most Portland Parks are officially open from 8am to 9pm. Uless you do something about it, your event will need to end by 9pm.  Failing to evacuate the park by 9pm may result in a Park Supervisor asking you and your guests to leave at the peak of your celebration. To avoid this party pooper outcome, schedule your event earlier in the evening, or work with the parks department to request an exception to their traditional closure rules.

Alcohol at your Event

If you are planning on having alcohol at your event in a Portland park, the city actually has some pretty reasonable rules in this department. If your event is less than 50 people and everyone is bringing their own alcohol, you do not need to do anything. If your event has more than 50 people and/or the alcohol is being served or provided by a single entity, then you will be required to provide proof of insurance to the parks department.

 

If all of this is confusing in anyway, you can always consult the Portland Parks and Rec picnic guide or just give them a call with any questions you might have. We have found the representatives to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable in our conversations.  As long as you follow this simple guide and Portland Park rules and guidelines, you should have a successful event to add to the books!

 

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