AT YOUR CONVENIENCE
Igloos is the company behind Britain’s best loos for events. Annica Svensson finds out how they’ve kept flush
Want to know what top footballers, models and movie stars have in common? Well, most have spent their pennies in a certain type of facility – and we’re not talking Bond Street shops. ‘Royalty, celebrities; you name them, they’ve probably sat on our loos,’ says Natasha Neale, co-director of Igloos, the market leader in luxury travelling toilets, whose loos have played an integral part at events like the World Cup in France, London Fashion Week, Royal Ascot, countless film premieres, including Lord of the Rings, and most of London’s big marquee parties.
Considering that Natasha’s brother Luke and his friend David Featherstone only founded the company about 10 years ago, this is quite an achievement. ‘They literally started off with an old trailer they bought from a farmer and did it up as nicely as they could. As demand grew, they started making their own trailers and it’s evolved from there,’ explains Natasha, who now helps manage the company’s bursting portfolio of products and services, which includes everything from simple loos for trade shows and one-off events to bespoke bathrooms for the most glamorous of parties – all finished with an attention to detail that extends to Molton Brown toiletries.
The jewel in Igloos’ crown is the Moduvac Vacuum Loo System, which, unlike the Traditional Travelling Loo Trailers, does not need to incorporate chemical tanks and can therefore be built into permanent or temporary buildings and structures.
The Ultimate Experience became the first company in the world to try the new system when it was installed in the marquee at the Honourable Artillery Company in 1998. Its former operations director, Paul Edwards, still remembers what a revolution it was: ‘These loos have made a huge difference in several ways,’ he says. ‘First of all, they look really nice and don’t come across as temporary – they’re finished so nicely you feel like you’re in a hotel – and, because the tanks can be kept some distance away, they don’t smell.
‘They’re also great if you have access problems, as we did at the HAC. They’re easier to service, take up less space and don’t need to be emptied every day. More importantly, customers love them. People were always commenting on the loos – they’re so impressive we even used to include them in our show-rounds.’
Another thing that sets Igloos apart is the level of service the company offers. ‘They have a great group of guys working for them and they always get the job done,’ says Edwards. ‘When you’re running large events you need someone on site all the time and we’ve always had great service. Igloos is more flexible than any other company on the market.’
Philip French, a senior event manager at Fifth Element, agrees: ‘We’ve used them for anything from a dinner for 100 people to a corporate party for 4,500 and they’ve always provided a very professional service, even when they’ve had to deal with difficult spaces and circumstances.’
‘Flexibility is key to us,’ Natasha confirms, admitting that the team likes a bit of a challenge. ‘It’s nice to know that because of our loos, we have been able to introduce clients to venues they couldn’t have used before,’ she says.
So far, Igloos has shipped loos as far afield as Libya and installed units in a range of unusual locations, including a disused tube station, a hillside in Provence and the deck of a ship. Not shy of using cranes or building structures – whatever it takes to get the loos in – the company is, nevertheless, always working on more accessible and convenient products. The latest development is a panelled system that comes flat-packed and is built from scratch for a completely bespoke service. ‘Customers can now decide exactly what they want, from the layout, decor and number of cubicles down to what pictures to go in the frames,’ Natasha explains.
The only obstacle this company finds difficult to overcome is convincing first-time customers that it’s worth paying up for good conveniences. ‘People are prepared to spend on all aspects of events – the food, the venue, the lighting – but loos are still a bit taboo. It’s a shame because, just as people will talk about bad food, if the loos are horrible, they really will talk about them,’ says Natasha. After countless visits to restaurants where the state of the toilets is the one thing that has lingered in our minds (no matter how delicious the food), we believe her.
From Square Meal The Magazine, Spring Issue 2004