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How many portable toilets do you need per person for your event?

portable toilets facilities

We understand that if you’re planning an event, there are a lot of variables to take into account. One of the most important ones to get right has to be the toilet facilities. We Brits may be famous for our love of a queue, but if your guests are standing around in a queue for a loo, you can be sure they’ll be pretty disgruntled.

Without a doubt, underestimating the number of portable toilets for your event is one of the biggest faux pas you can make as an organiser. So just how big can portable toilet gaffes get? Read on to check out some of the most publicised toilet disasters, followed by some tips on how to avoid these mistakes and ensure you have enough portable event toilets available.

Victorious Festival 2021

The latest research suggests the average Brit spends around 47 days of their queueing. Chances are this figure is a lot higher for attendees of the Victorious Festival 2021. Some festival-goers reported waiting more than one hour to use the facilities, forcing event organisers to issue an official apology and promise to review the planning process. Handwashing facilities were also lacklustre, prompting major hygiene concerns.

Festival Republic

Festival Republic may be one of the biggest music event producers in the UK but according to attendees, organisers have a thing or two to learn when it comes to installing enough portable toilets for events. Sessions in Finsbury Park were slammed for their lack of facilities, not to mention impossibly long queues for the bar and inadequate access to water.

“With concerts, it’s not just about the music – you pay for an experience,” said festival attendee Shah. “It was an exceptionally hot day, queues for the bar were hundreds of metres long and for the hour I queued, I moved no more than 10 metres. There were also very few toilets for the amount of people there.”

So, how do you work out the best number of portable toilets for your event and avoid complaints like this one?

The first factor to consider is the type of event you’re looking to hire portable toilets for. A wedding reception requires one kind of solution, while a large-scale music festival needs something different. It’s much easier to calculate the number of portable toilets you’ll need for a ticketed or RSVP event, which will give you a good idea of the number of guests attending.

Where guests are allowed to turn up on the day and buy their tickets, attendance numbers can vary massively. In this case, it’s best to err on the safe side and hire enough portable event toilets to cover everyone who might attend the event.

Those of us in the events industry can refer to a guidebook published in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive, which we know as the Purple Book. This book has guidance which helps us make recommendations to our customers about how many portable loos they need to hire to keep them safe and above board. Here’s a quick summary of the HSE recommendations for hiring portable toilets for events.

Short events without refreshments

If your event is a small, local event like a summer fete, which isn’t going to run for more than six hours, and you’re not going to be serving any sort of food or drink, the recommendation is that you hire one portable loo for every 100 women and another portable toilet for every 500 men as a minimum.

Longer events without refreshments

If you are running an event without food or drinks for more than six hours, then you’ll need to hire a few more portable toilets. We recommend that you hire at least one toilet for every 85 female visitors and one portable toilet for every 425 men.

Large-scale events with refreshments

If your event is one which is scheduled to last over six hours, and you’ll be serving food and drink, then you’ll definitely be needing more portable event toilets. People will be eating and drinking, and looking for facilities to use after that. Because of that, this guidance is that the minimum number of portable toilets you’ll need to provide is one portable toilet for every 75 women and one portable toilet for every 400 men.

Events with alcohol

Thanks to the effects of alcohol on the human bladder, alcohol can make a difference to toilet usage. While it’s not written in the purple book, experience tells us that you’ll need to add an extra 20% to the number of toilets you’re ordering.

Camping or overnight events

Things are a bit different when it comes to events where your guests will be staying overnight. The toilets will be in use at all hours of the day, but will still require maintenance breaks for emptying and cleaning, which may take some toilets out of action while servicing takes place. You’ll need extra toilets to make up for the temporary shortfall.

Tips for booking enough portable toilets for events

Now you’ve had a glimpse of what can go wrong and the HSE requirements you must adhere to when it comes to crunching toilet numbers for events, let’s take a look at some ways to avoid lavatory chaos.

Overestimate your numbers

One of the worst decisions you can make as an event planner is to underestimate your numbers. Ideally, you should install enough portable event toilets to cater for a full-capacity event. It may cost a little extra but ultimately, a good experience will encourage attendees to return to the event in the future. You’ll also avoid bad press, which can spell disaster for high-profile events, like the one hosted by Festival Republic.

Install urinals for the gents

Installing urinals in high-traffic areas is an easy way to slash toilet wait times and keep your attendees happy. These space-efficient portable urinals get men in and out as fast as possible, freeing up standard toilets for women and gents carrying out other business.

Consider luxury facilities

If your event has a VIP area or ticketing zone, splurging on luxury portable toilet facilities can be a great way to treat attendees to a high-end experience. They’ll get to enjoy the luxuries of a premium portable event toilet and you’ll also be freeing up more capacity for your standard facilities. Toilets are a top priority for most event attendees and with the right strategy, this type of upgrade can be a great way to boost ticket sale profits.

Every event is different and has its own requirements, so this advice is provided to you as a guide. We’d recommend having a chat with our friendly event specialists, who can provide more bespoke advice on the best portable toilets for your event, as well as the best way to manage your servicing needs throughout the event. Contact us today to learn more.