Whether you are looking for bog standard facilities or feeling particularly flush, there are plenty of washroom options on the market. Open Air Business considers some.
Event toilets used to be a thing of dread, reviled by most and only to be used as a desperate last resort. However, over recent years, demand has given birth to a new breed of facility, and things are changing for the better.
In fact, the subject of toilets and a change in the expectations of users, is raised a number of times in the UK Festival Awards’ 2015/2016 Market Report. It states that 15 per cent of festival goers questioned paid to use a VIP toilet, while 48 per cent think more premium toilets should be available.
Amy Gilbert, director, Site Event, explains: “Our customers and members of the public now expect a higher quality unit, with many events changing from providing traditional single event toilets to luxury event toilet trailers.”
Site Event has been supplying short term toilet hire to private and public events since 1988. The company has even started manufacturing its own luxury toilet trailers such is the demand for more luxurious facilities.
Virginia Gardiner, CEO of Loowatt, agrees: “As festivals expand their customer demographics in all directions, the desire for additional luxury washroom facilities that are not traditionally associated with festivals – incorporating hair drying and straightening and makeup facilities – is rising. Customers’ overall expectations of the experience are increasing.”
There are now a wide range of options to choose from, some of which are much more glamorous than others.
Standard portable toilets are the ones that are most likely to come to mind when you think of a festival or outdoor event, and they are probably the ones that fill users with the most dread. However, speaking to providers to ensure you choose the best option to meet the needs of the number of people attending your event can help to avoid problems associated with excess use. The loos themselves have a foot pump activated flush and sink with some hand sanitiser. They are totally self-contained and can be sited virtually anywhere, as long as the ground is firm and level.
Long drop toilets can provide an alternative to the standard portable loo, but they’re still relatively basic; they are essentially large metal frames placed over a slurry pit in the ground. About 20 toilets normally fit within them, but while they’re generally better than the cubicle option, users should be advised not to look down. On the plus side, they’re much more eco-friendly.
Of course, the toilet situation at festivals is a lot better for men and the provision of urinals can eliminate a lot of queuing.
Finally, there are event washrooms, which offer the full luxury treatment and can make a huge impression on the people attending your event. You may also wish to supply luxury toilets for VIP areas and performers.
Meeting a need
Today’s new breed of luxury mobile toilets are smart, spacious and contemporary, and are available in styles and sizes to suit every budget and type of event, from weddings, parties and christenings, to corporate events and festivals.
Fittings can include shiny chrome taps, mahogany panelled doors, pictures, wood effect flooring, full length mirrors, modern lighting and even extra large cubicles to accommodate ladies’ ball gowns, while fresh flowers, luxury soap, hand cream and hand towels, perfume, sewing kits and music are just some of the extras that are on offer.
However, a certain level of luxury and a clean and odourless experience are not the only things that are in demand, and as a result, the needs of event organisers are changing, as is what they want and expect from facilities.
“They want a higher quality unit and are also looking to be as environmentally-friendly as possible,” says Gilbert. “We are meeting these needs by manufacturing our toilet trailers using locally-sourced materials and the latest in toilet trailer technology. Being eco-friendly and using less water are general trends in the industry, and in line with this, our toilets use more environmentally-friendly chemicals, and the water is controlled by stop taps to ensure there is no wastage.”
According to Gardener, water only needs to be provided if hand washing facilities are required and hand gels can be offered as an alternative. This drives down the cost for event organisers, and helps them to meet their sustainability goals. “Our trailers have a very low power consumption and the toilets themselves are waterless,” she says.
Driving this demand is the increase in sustainability standards and campaigns such as A Greener Festival, Powerful Thinking and Creative Green. “They are driving event organisers to look at reducing power and water needs from suppliers, and reducing their overall carbon footprint,” explains Gardner.
She believes that as a result of this move, there is a need for suppliers to differentiate their product. “Sustainability is a big part of events’ differentiation,” she says. “Therefore, suppliers who can show this as a USP stand to gain. Love Your Tent is a good example of a feature that festivals are keen to offer. This model is being duplicated by other events,” she adds.
Love Your Tent is the waste campaign, created by Eco Action Partnership in association with A Greener Festival, which is intended to stop people discarding their tents, leaving them behind after a festival finishes.
The campaign is about behaviour change and encouraging people to have more respect for their environment and for themselves. It shows people (organisers and campers) how much waste from discarded tents there is, how much it costs each year and what happens to it.
The aim of the campaign is to demonstrate that organisers and event-goers can save money and create less waste, less landfill, less damage to the environment and less resources being used up.
How many do you need?
When it comes to deciding how many toilets you might need for an event, it is worth bearing in mind that hiring too few could result in unhappy event-goers. A lack of toilets will result in long queues and, to put it bluntly, to avoid these queues some attendees are likely to choose to relieve themselves elsewhere, which is far from ideal.
The Events Industry Forum, in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive, has published the Event Safety Guide or ‘Purple Book’ as it is known. The guide was produced to help event organisers manage all aspects of health and safety, of which toilet provision is one of the most important.
As a general rule, if an event lasts no longer than six hours, and no food or alcohol is served, you should provide one portable toilet unit for every 100 female guests expected and another for every 500 men, plus and an additional portable urinal unit for every 150 men.
If the event you’re planning is set to last for longer than six hours, and again there’s no food or alcohol being served, it is recommended that you provide a single toilet for every 85 women attending and one for every 425 men, plus a urinal unit for every 125.
For events planned to last for more than six hours serving food and alcohol, the recommended ratios increase as the availability of food and refreshments has a direct impact on visitors’ need to use the facilities. Here the guidelines advocate that for every 75 women expected, the organisers should provide a single portable toilet unit. For men, the recommendation is one portable toilet for every 400 attendees and an additional urinal for every 100.
It can take a number of days to deliver, install and test all the toilet units in advance of a festival or event. Event organisers should therefore make sure that time has been allocated for delivery and installation. Large vehicles will usually be required to transport the units and adequate vehicle access is also commonly necessary.
Luxury toilets, such as Loowatt, can be a great option for hard to reach areas as they do not require HGV access.
As Gardiner explains: “Loowatt’s fleet of luxury toilet trailers do not need to be serviced by vehicles during a multi-day event. An increasing desire to locate events in exclusive, iconic, beautiful locations to cater to customers’ increasing appetite for ever more extraordinary experiences, means that installing temporary infrastructure is increasingly challenging.”
The Loowatt toilet uses a patented, simple and efficient sealing technology to contain human waste within biodegradable film, with a unique odour-inhibiting system. The waste is then stored in a cartridge for periodic emptying, which can be weekly or daily, depending on level of usage and capacity requirements.
Of course, portable toilets need regular cleaning and the more guests that you have at your event, the more likely they are to need servicing and emptying.
Toilet attendants are not a necessity, with cleaning crews on the site all day for larger festivals, but for smaller events it might be beneficial to have a dedicated service attendant to restock hand towels and so on.
Looking to the future, Site Event is planning to expand its product range of themed toilet trailers, decorated inside and out. “We are looking into other markets for ideas and attending exhibitions around the world to see how innovative other countries’ toilets are and bringing those innovations to the UK,” says Gilbert.
Newest to its themed toilet trailer range is the Shabby Chic trailer. The trailer has been vinyl wrapped with a white wood panel effect inside and has a distressed blue exterior to give it a traditional shabby chic feel. Inside are a distressed mirror and door hooks, as well as vintage tin signs. Above the gents’ urinal are distressed mirror shutter windows.
The trailer forms part of a range that includes the Horse Stable, the Gypsy Caravan, the Beach Hut, the Potting Shed and the Shepherds Hut.
Recognising the demand for ever more unique and boutique experiences that offer something that customers haven’t seen before, Gardiner suggests that environmental attributes will also continue to be key.
“As festival organisers become more aware of how theyhtt can reduce their environmental impact, we believe that brand new technologies will become increasingly sought after. We are providing a better user experience with clear environmental benefits,” she concludes.