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How Many Porters Do I Need for My Event?

The short, straight answer (and the least helpful one) is: that depends.

While we generally suggest one cleaner for every 250 people (except there should always be two cleaners up to 250 and sometimes you want three for up to 500), it’s also true that the size of the venue and the scope of work are important considerations as well.

For instance, if your event requires trash management which is mainly emptying and relining trash cans, carting full trash bags to a truck or dumpster, and picking up litter and discarded food and beverage containers on the premises, fewer numbers of people are needed than if you also need dedicated restroom attendants to clean and restock bathrooms or scullery and busing staff. If your event is at a private home which requires both event porter work and cleaning work, a home has the added challenges of furniture, more surfaces, and personal belongings that cleaners must navigate as opposed to a night club or event space which is mostly chairs, tables, and sofas and possibly an additional bar.

Our porters also can help with decor setup and space breakdown. How elaborate your decor and setup is will dictate the number of staff needed, but even for smaller events, if this service is requested, two cleaners are essential to move larger, heavier pieces of furniture and divide duties between bagging linens and sweeping or mopping floors.

Here are some case studies of events we have serviced to give you an idea of how many cleaners/porters you need at your event:

  1. Camp Pendleton Family Festival — At this event, we were hired to manage trash, maintain and restock the port-a-potties, and help keep the premises clean. Two thousand (2000) Marine corps families descended on this 160,000 square foot space decked out with a performance stage, rides, petting zoo, arts and crafts booths, and food trucks and tents. For this, we staffed eight (8) porters which was the perfect amount.
  2. Renegade Craft Fair — Renegade Craft comes to Los Angeles twice a year, and we have serviced their zero waste efforts in Santa Monica and provided porters at their Los Angeles State Historic Park outings. For the zero waste edition, we provided two cleaners to separate trash into compost, refuse, and recycling, as well as three live event porters to sponge down the port-a-potties and maintain the grounds. At Los Angeles’ State Historic Park, we staffed three porters for all the restroom and trash management duties. The fair generally has about four to six food trucks with a dedicated eating space and attracts somewhere between 1500-2500 people periodically throughout the day.
  3. Family Food Festival — On the 100K square foot CBS Studio Television lot, this annual October festival boasts over 30 food trucks and draws somewhere between seven to ten thousand hungry mouths. In 2022, they wanted to skimp on labor, but found that that cost them more than they had budgeted for as they had to pay overtime and for additional shifts to clean up the aftermath. In 2023, we provided fifteen cleaners over twelve hours during the event, then cut to a skeleton night crew of five cleaners to restore the lot for an additional six hours from late into the next early morning. The next day we had seven additional cleaners as well as a power washer blast the asphalt and make the venue look unused.
  4. Drive-Thru Branding Activation — An experiential marketing firm turned a drive-thru coffee stand into an influencer event for 70 guests for a pop-star lingerie brand. The drive-thru was converted into a dressing room, pop-up shop, photo-op stop and we were brought in to make the set sparkle. We provided two (2) cleaners for the full day of pre, live, and post, and one (1) for additional support during the actual event.

Here are some case studies where we were pressured to understaff, and not to either the benefit of the event producers or to our staff:

  1. San Diego Community Park Outdoor Festival — For an outdoor food and bazaar expecting between 2000-3000 people, we were asked to provide three cleaners. Although we balked at the cleaner to guest ratio, we were assured that the producers had a team of volunteers who were going to help. (You can read more about the mythical concept of volunteers in our aptly named blog post, “Volunteers“). Once the volunteers saw our crew members, they refused to help, shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Oh, we don’t need to do this. They hired people.” Our crew members were overloaded, racked up meal penalties, worked overtime, and the promoters were unhappy with the work.
  2. Fundraising Concert — In another misguided attempt at reducing costs, this massive concert for first responders which drew big name celebrities and top tier donors employed volunteers throughout the event to disastrous consequences. Few of them actually did any work and wheres we suggested twelve (12) live event porters and six (6) post event cleaners, they went with two (2) pre-event setup staff and five (5) post-event cleaners. In the post-mortem, they acknowledged that what they had insisted upon was not adequate.
  3. Beer Garden Festival — For a four block outdoor festival with two enclosed beer gardens serving free beer with zero crowd control, we provided eight (8) cleaners and had to scramble during the day to provide up to twelve (12). Our beer garden porters at times could not move to do their jobs due to overcrowding of the area, and our cleaners at first struggled to keep up with the trash production until reinforcements arrived during the day.

Staffing and trash hauling are often the two areas clients want to cut corners on as these are the two areas of event cleaning that tend to cost more. However, these are also the two areas that can make or break how streamlined your event is and how well the event venue or space is maintained. If you’ve held your event before and know the exact number of staff that you need, we are always happy to modify our staffing, but it is our experience that, particularly with either complex branding activations with multiple spaces or with outdoor food and music festivals, more staffing is better than less. To find out how many staff you need for your upcoming event, reach out to PopUP CleanUP for a free estimate.

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