Tents for a cause

Bike, run, walk or jump—if there’s a ’thon raising money, there’s usually a need for tents.

Bike-a-thons and similar sporting fundraisers have been growing in popularity for decades, and the Houston-to-Austin MS 150 is a great example. In its 26-year history, the fundraiser has evolved from 237 cyclists who raised $117,000 in 1985 to its current capacity of 13,000 riders, with a 2010 goal of raising $18 million to fight multiple sclerosis. This year, cyclists began the ride on April 17 in Houston and finished one day and 180 miles later in Austin, where more than 100 tents were set up at the finale. The bigger the ’thon, the bigger the tent requirements.

Marquee Tents of Austin, Texas, has worked with this event for seven years, but 2010 was its first year as the event’s official tent provider.

“The process was very streamlined and was very organized, being [that we were] the only tent contractor on-site,” says Marquee Tents president Narcy Martinez.

Marquee provided 99 team tents plus the tents for the end-of-the-race finale event. The team tents were 10-by-10-, 10-by-20- and 20-by-20-foot tents, and the festival tents were larger tents for vendors, bands and medical personnel.

“The race wanted the setup to have a consistent look because the event location was on two full blocks of downtown Austin,” Martinez says.

Key to Marquee’s success with this event was devising a plan to support the race, which included partnering with an event coordinator, Bobby Loyd of Turn Key Event Rental of Austin. Martinez says her company was awarded the job because they listened to the client’s problems with previous events, challenges and concerns, and offered the equipment, coordination and services the client requested.

“We did not do any upselling, but we also did not do any discounting,” she says. “We provided good quality tents, incredible service and coordination services at a fair price. We do not particularly ask for exclusivity with any of our clients. We hope to earn the respect of our clients through the work we do, and they usually don’t think about using anyone else. We want them to always be in control of the event and we are constantly trying to earn their business.”