Little Timmy’s 5th birthday is approaching and he’s desperate for a bouncy castle like his friend Tommy had at his garden birthday party last August. You’ve decided the forecast looks good and you want to make a booking, what should you consider before making your booking?
Here’s 5 key points to consider before making your bouncy castle hire booking. We’ll address these points to give you a more clear guide on why each point is critical to booking a safe and reliable operator.
- Safety of service
- Safety of equipment
- Customer experience
Safety of service
Bouncy castles and fun go together like bread and butter. There’s nothing more enjoyable for kids, and big kids than playing and jumping on a bouncy castle, especially on a sunny summers day. Bouncy castles have become universally popular especially for celebratory events such as birthday parties, christenings, wedding receptions and more but it’s important that operators provide a safe service to ensure that users are kept safe during the hire period.
Here in the UK, there are hundreds if not thousands of companies who can offer bouncy castle hire to eager event organisers looking to provide fun for their guests. How can you as an organiser find the right company to ensure they’ll provide a safe and reliable hire service?
There’s a couple of checks you can do before confirming your booking.
Public Liability Insurance
Firstly, public liability insurance is not a legal requirement. Most people will assume this to be a legal requirement and although many operators would prefer this to be the case it is not. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), however, consider this to be ‘best practice’.
Most competent and reputable hire companies will carry public liability insurance with varying levels of cover most commonly being £5m. Although, it’s important to know that this insurance covers the hire company only. The insurance will cover the actions of only the hire company i.e. the setting up and packing down of equipment or if the hire company provide attendants to supervise the use of the equipment.
Most hire companies will provide items to you on a ‘dry hire’ basis so in this circumstance the supervision aspect of the hire is the responsibility of the customer. Therefore, we recommend that customers take out insurance to cover themselves. This can be supplied from various insurance companies and can sometimes fall under the umbrella of ‘event’ insurance. We always recommend you speak to the insurance company to ensure that you are getting the correct level of cover. From memory, this cover can be purchased from as little as £11.
Here at SJ’s Leisure we carry public liability insurance up to £5m. This is usually ample cover however in some circumstances, organisers may require insurance up to £10m. We can arrange for our cover to be increased for your event, however, this would incur an additional cost to you, the customer. Please contact us for more information on how to get this in place for your event.
From the outside, most people would assume that hiring inflatables is a pretty easy occupation. It can be, if you are trained to understand and install equipment correctly and safely.
Most people would be surprised to learn that there is a UK and European standard which hire companies must adhere to and that this document is over 45 pages long (BS EN14960). The standard includes formulas and calculations which operators must understand and use to safely set up equipment.
Industry training is available for anyone to undertake and this involves a day of training followed by a series of exams. Upon completion and passing of the course, attendees are accredited by the RPII (Register of Play Inspectors International).
SJ’s Leisure have two members of staff who have completed the training and are accredited by the RPII. Ian and Steven are then able to in-house train new and existing staff to this standard. As a company we are always looking at ways to improve our knowledge and quality of service so are always willing to undertake new and necessary training.
Safety of Equipment
Again not a legal requirement but considered ‘best practice’. PAT testing checks various components of electrical appliances through a series of visual and electronic tests. More information can be found in this handy article by Electrical Safety First.
Here at SJ’s Leisure, we regularly PAT test our electrical equipment through a third party company to ensure safety and efficiency.
There are various brands of testing available to ensure that a product is safe for the public to use but all tests are to be made in accordance with the same safety standard (BS EN14960).
Many manufacturers will provide a product with an initial test certificate or manufacturers test. This certificate is supplied to cover the product for up to twelve months from completion of manufacture under their brand of testing.
The test for inflatables is the same regardless of the brand of testing. Inspectors are testing to ensure the inflatable meets or exceeds the required standard detailed in the UK and European document BS EN14960. Other brands of testing include PIPA and ADIPS. These are the main testing brands which the HSE recognise and support due to the ease of following the ‘paper trail’.
PIPA, to use as a example have an excellent database where customers can scan the ‘PIPA tag QR code’, smartphones will load up a web page displaying the latest test certificate and information for the equipment. Alternatively the user can manually input the ‘tag’ number into the database to load up the certificate.
The website also stores previous test certificates on the equipment so users can learn about previous inspections and whether the equipment has required any alterations or repairs.
A valid test can also be completed by an inspector who has been trained and accredited by the RPII and provided under their own brand of testing i.e. Big Bubble Bounce Inflatable Testing Services (this name is an example and not a known testing service at the time of writing this article).
At the time of writing this article, PIPA and ADIPS can inspect and provide safety certificates only for inflatables which have a primary use of 'bouncing and sliding' as this is what the standard (BS EN14960) covers, so this includes products such as;
However, it does not cover the whole scope of inflatables and the standard can only be referred to and applied when testing items such as;
Sanitation and hygiene have never been more important. Part of our ethos has always been to provide a clean and safe hire service. The emergence of COVID-19 brought this issue to the forefront of businesses and industries all around the world and we believe we’ve incorporated new strategies that will help to improve this aspect of our business.
We’ve invested in fogging machines to neutralise harmful bacteria on products and always have on hand vast stock of virucidal and anti bacterial solution complying with EN 1276 and EN 14476. All equipment is also cleaned with warm water and soap between hires thoroughly. Staff are encouraged now more than ever to follow good hand hygiene alongside other UK Government guidelines.
As we return to ‘normal’ and providing a more extensive range of products and services, we will add more cleaning procedures to our routine if and when needed.
Want more information on what procedures we put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Click here for a news article detailing these procedures.
“Some things cannot be taught; they must be experienced. You never learn the most valuable lessons in life until you go through your own journey.”
― Roy T. Bennett
A quote which can be linked to all walks of life. There’s no substitute for experience.
Just like learning how to drive, you can revise all the theory of the highway code but you will only truly learn it when being out on the road and experiencing it first hand.
Experience in our industry is invaluable. Through experience you are more likely to notice risks that a newbie may not see or deem dangerous. This can be essential in an event running safely and smoothly. Experienced operators can also share insights and experiences with event organisers and discuss various issues. We get great feedback from our customers on our ability to provide an outside view of their event and provide our extensive knowledge through 25 years + of experience in the industry.
One of the best tools to check if a company is right for your event is to review previous customer feedback. Feedback can be provided and recorded in various forms. We encourage all of our customers to provide feedback on our hire products and services. As feedback in all forms can help us to improve our services and products. Using this vital communication we may introduce or remove products or steps in our routine.
We’d love to provide a 10/10 hire service all of the time but unfortunately as with any company, this isn’t always possible, especially if issues are out of our control (weather issues for example). We look to resolve any issues as quickly and as efficiently as possible and communicate with our customers politely and at the earliest possibility.
You can read previous feedback from our customers on various platforms including Google and TrustPilot and we also log email feedback on the testimonial page of our website.
All companies will provide various levels of experience for their customers. Here at SJ’s Leisure, we aim to provide the very best hire experience for our customers. This involves various steps in the hire experience. From deciding to book a bouncy castle to waving goodbye to our collection team.
In order to provide the easiest, most convenient and reliable booking process, we have invested heavily into our online booking website. This website features all of our in-stock products and users can visit the website to view the range of products including photos of the products and in some cases YouTube videos of the product in use etc.
Product listings also state a range of important information such as whether the equipment requires a power source, whether it includes a rain cover, the recommended user numbers, recommended number of supervisors, current test certificate which can be viewed and / or downloaded, sizing information and much more.
Users can then also check ‘live’ availability on almost all hire products. Certain products do not have this online function such as rodeo rides, simulators, photo booths as they are hired for a shorter period of time rather than a daily or multi day hire and in some cases require staff from our company to be present throughout their hire. In these circumstances, these products must be booked by telephone or email.
Here's a video on our YouTube channel showing how easy it is to book online.
If a product is available online, users can then input information regarding their event such as for example delivery postcode, length of hire and so on. Upon completing the online form, users can then confirm their booking should they wish to by making a booking fee payment which in most cases is a £15 payment. This payment is made using a booking specific PayPal link and using this link, users can pay using a PayPal account, credit or debit card. A PayPal account is not required to make this payment.
You’ve completed the online booking form and made your online payment. Great - what next? Our automated website will send you a confirmation email within a short period of time, usually immediately. This gives customers peace of mind that their chosen equipment will be supplied for their event.
On the date of the hire event, trained staff will arrive within the stated timeframe to set up equipment and give customers any verbal instruction if required. If for any reason, an obstacle has popped up such as traffic jam etc, our team will contact the customer at the earliest possibility to update the customer.
We’ll then leave you to enjoy your equipment and event in most cases unless an attendant is provided and return to pack down the equipment and take it away.
Whilst equipment is on hire to customers, our team is available by landline or mobile telephone or by email. In summer months when we may be extremely busy, a quick email to our office will be responded to as soon as possible. Customers can also refer to emails they have been sent which in most cases will provide them with the answers for any queries they may have.
We pride ourselves on providing a safe and friendly hire service and love to convert new customers into regular customers who we see multiple times a year. Hopefully you will be one such customer!
We hope we’ve provided you with some insight into what to look for when looking to hire a bouncy castle or inflatable. If you have any questions, please contact
our friendly office team by email or telephone
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