How Rental Companies Are Facing Down the Coronavirus Threat

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Enola, PA, Thursday, March 12, 2020:

It goes without saying that the Corona virus is heavily impacting the livelihood of the tent rental community. We continue calling our friends at the many event companies and we hear that there are lots of cancellations particularly in large population areas. But there are a lot of regions that don’t do big events or are outside of large cities, and they’re telling us they have not yet been heavily impacted. So far.

At this beginning of this week we heard statements like these that follow (or you can skip to the bottom to THE BIG QUESTION at the end of the article).

Brandon McGinnis, Made In The Shade Tent Rentals, Sacramento CA.

“We’re meeting about it right now, as a matter of fact.  We may revise our cancellation policy to make sure our bases are covered for any planning or things that we’re doing. But thus far we’ve been lucky enough to not really be affected by it.

“With the new news of events like Coachella moving their event dates, and with other big events following suit, we’re preparing for them right now. It’s still in the beginning stages, and we are lucky not to have been completely affected by it so far.

“We’ve been in touch with other rental companies in the area that have taken more losses with their big events happening in March, while our events start in April and May. That’s why we’re trying to prepare for that timeframe and plan for it accordingly, including revamping our cancellation policy to try and mitigate any losses that we might see if big upcoming events are cancelled.”

UPDATE 7:41 pm note from Brandon McGinnis: “I’m not sure if you ran the article yet, but what I said to you about us not being affected doesn’t hold true anymore. We were hit hard today. Maybe you can revise that part of the article? I’d appreciate it.”

Thanks so much Brandon for letting us know. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the situation improves sooner rather than later. -Jay

Courtney Tamuzza, AParty Center in northern NJ and current president of American Rental Association New Jersey Chapter.

Like other event companies, AParty Center is facing cancellations, but at the same time, some new opportunities are opening up.  For instance, they just quoted a good job at a hospital for four tents, which will be used to do Coronavirus testing. But with that potential windfall come concerns.

“I am mainly thinking about the fact that the tents will be used for testing, and that brings up a number of questions that tent rental companies like ours are often dealing with for the first time,” Courtney says. 

“For instance, What happens if someone has the virus and sneezes within six feet of sidewall? How long does the virus last?  Two weeks? Less? How about if the crew has to check the tent after a storm? The hospital can supply suits for protection. And what is the recommended way to clean? What is the cost of keeping a tent up for a certain duration after its last use so virus can die off?  The most important thing is that we don’t want put our crew in danger.

“We found out the hospital plans to recirculate air in the tents, so we recommended HEPA filters, something they had not considered, but they are now. But I honestly hope the warm weather kills this off. Cancellations thus far seem to be fear driven.

Steve Capone, A Tent 4 Rent, Dedham, MA

 “We’re undecided. People are asking to postpone events, but we have signed agreements with them. We’re working on how to respond. We probably have to ask the client, ‘What’s fair’”, he said, “when a cancellation occurs?’

“We’re letting smaller jobs reschedule. Bigger ones, we’re looking at how to address them on a client by client basis. I’d like to see what other people are saying.”

Other voices

We talked to two other major event companies that we didn’t ask permission to quote, but who had some interesting points to make.

  • Large multi-regional event structure company based in the Southern US. “We have not been directly affected yet,” our respondent says.  “I do know that some people in the Washington State area have lost bunches of events at places like Microsoft due to their having employees work from home and cancelling some events that were booked.” 
  • Companies in the Northwest were watching closely early this week to see what the Coachella festival decided – postpone or cancel (they’ve since postponed to late October).  And there are other large music festivals that these companies normally serve.
  • Large rent and event company in eastern Virginia: Our respondent says they’ve had a few medium-sized events cancel for some events coming up this month and others that weren’t scheduled till the summer.  He’s uncertain as to how they’ll approach it moving forward.

Scott Pickel of Tent OX.Everyone is saying similar things. No one is 100 % sure what to do. Special events like Catersource 2020 next week in Las Vegas are still going on. If the rental industry starts shutting down their shows, that would be an indicator of whether people are panicking yet.”

Scott Woodruff of Tent OX: “As events cancel, rental companies in big cities are going to be impacted more than small. One small bit of silver lining: oil prices have dropped, offering an opportunity to adapt positively to the situation by reducing fuel expenditures and increasing routing efficiency for jobs that are on. If you can aggressively reduce cost, you can at least have some positive impact on your profitability.”


  1. Which of your cancellations are outright for the rest of the year, and which are postponements?
  2. If the threat diminishes in a reasonable amount of time, do you foresee a possibility of getting back some of that business this year and possibly recovering at least some of your losses before the season concludes?

Sound off now, please, on either the Tent OX Enthusiasts Facebook page, and let your fellow Tent and Event colleagues know. It’s obviously going to be a bumpy ride. Staying knowledgeable and communicative as a group will help us all get through it.