This question is really less about what’s better and more about what’s more convenient. Really, you have to ask yourself which would be easier for you to set up and take down, which would work better for your business, and which would be more comfortable for your client.
I won’t lie: I’ve heard some horror stories about the set up and take down of spray tan tents, as I’m sure you have as well, but not every tent is the same. Some may be easier to take down, some may be harder—that being said, there are some things I’ve discovered about spray tan tents that need to be mentioned.
It’s claustrophobic: It’s an enclosed tent with the only real opening being blocked by the spray tan consultant. Even though they aren’t trying to trap you in the tent, it still makes you feel imprisoned and uncomfortable.
When I stood inside, I felt like I was trapped in one of those conversations where the person was standing too close.
Because it’s an enclosed space with poor ventilation, it’s easy to understand how a client would feel suffocated or like they are forced to inhale the solution (which is not dangerous in any way, but it’s still an unpleasant feeling). Worse yet, if your client accidentally comes into contact with the side of the tent it could wipe away part of their tan!
I found that I could not turn around, or do much of anything in the tent without hitting a side—and I couldn’t spread my arms at all! Now I know how caged birds feel.
Cleaning is a pain: Okay—cleaning this thing takes more patience than I have.
You could wipe it down with cleaning cloths—an exercise that will cost you at least an hour or more of your day–or you can drag it outside and hose it off. In the winter months you then have to drag the tent back inside and find someplace to put it so that it doesn’t freeze (and then tear). So then you have to find a place where it can dry that:
1. Won’t be in the way
2. Won’t drip on electronics
3. Won’t create a puddle for you to conveniently slip and break your neck
Worse still, now that it’s drying you have to wait before you can use it again.
Dark/bad lighting: When you’re spray tanning, you need the most light possible. You absolutely do not want to miss a spot, or worse: over spray a spot.
Most tents are open-topped so you can have a light shining down on your client, but often this casts shadows that could distort how much—or how little—you are tanning.
Transportation: This more frequently effects mobile businesses rather than salon-run spray tanning (for obvious reasons). Because taking down a spray tan tent can be pretty frustrating at times, it can make getting in and out of a client’s home that much more awkward.
Taking into account that there are easier ways out there—who would choose a more difficult product?
Why suffer through all the trouble?
There are other options out there. You aren’t stuck with just one choice, and in the end what matters is if your equipment is holding you back, or helping you move forward.
I recommend looking into purchasing a backdrop, or creating one of your own design (as long as it looks professional). But no matter what you choose to use, the major points you want to remember are:
No claustrophobia: make sure it’s open, and that your clientele feels as comfortable as possible. They are going to be at least partially nude remember—they are going to want something that puts them at ease.
No obstruction of light to hide what you are doing. The last thing you want is for your client to tell all his or her friends about a bad experience. So why risk it? If you go with something that doesn’t obstruct your light, this won’t ever be an issue and you’ll have the peace of mind to know your providing an even tan all the time, every time.
Easy to clean: With a cloth backdrop, cleaning is as simple as doing your laundry. No leaking, no dripping, and it only has to be cleaned once every few months—how easy is that?
Easy to move and maneuver around: You do not want to fight with your equipment. It should be lightweight and easy to set up, take down, and move about. And it should never get in your way when you’re spray tanning.
In the end, the choice is yours. Maybe a tent works for you—maybe you have found some secret trick that nobody else has heard of. Whatever the case may be: use your best judgment, and choose which piece of equipment would work best for you, your clients, and your business.