Photo booths have been around for over a decade and are now a standard expense for wedding planning couples, Christmas parties and charity galas and, as with every industry, only brave businesses will succeed. This article is not written to scare people out of the industry nor to sell new products and ideas – this is purely a piece of advice from a group of people, working in the photo booth industry and with a combined experience of more than fifty years.
Business is hard – like, really hard.
Remember the days when you turned up at work a few minutes past 9, made twenty cups of tea before noon and knocked off that little too early for your dentist appointment “in case of traffic”? Well, running your own business is nothing like that. Whether you’re a sole trader or you have employees and attendants to help you, when you’re at the top, you wear every…single…hat. There’s no longer time to make tea rounds and check your Facebook messages, your vehicle becomes your office and forget being able to go to bed early!
The first step to future proofing your business is making sure you adjust your expectations. A photo booth business will not make you millions, allow you retire early or pay off your mortgage – not unless you work for it. Our industry relies on Saturday night and holiday bookings and if you want a piece of the pie, you have to be willing to sacrifice your time and prioritise the needs of your customers to make money.
Times change and it’s time to change
When the booth industry began to boom we were all telling each other about it on the Nokia 5230 whilst watching The Hangover (the first one!) and listening to Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. It’s safe to say we’ve moved on since then and so has digital technology; as its capability has more than quadrupled in the events industry.
We can now take photos on mobile phones with more than just 5 mega-pixels and and photography can be shared with everyone we know in a matter of seconds. So how can we compete?
Photo entertainment is taking over from traditional photo booths meaning that additional options are coming into play. The rise of Magic Mirrors in most recent years has meant that traditional booths have taken a back-seat whilst customers enjoy a new, fresh idea, but in a few years the industry may very well change again. And it’s already started.
Photobooths.co.uk and PictureBlast are just two organisations that have launched table-top selfie devices in 2018 with the TableSelfie™ and the Selfie PostBox now available to buy and hire. These two tools offer a unique experience that brings people together in age where everyone is trapped behind a phone screen – brides no longer want their guests isolated by smartphones or snapping solo selfies and these items help to bring guests together and experience the event as a group.
This one is a bit of an obvious one but so many businesses haven’t implemented the basic marketing tools needed to excel at business. When you’re in the supermarket, you have the option to choose between around 20 different toothpastes – what do you look for when you buy? Some people look for price, some people look for ingredients, others for engaging packaging and others for brand names. The same methodology can be applied to photo booths. If I’m looking to hire a booth for my wedding I have a lot of boxes to tick, I want to know…
- I’m getting value for money
- I’m not paying too much
- I’m not going to be let down
- I’m going to feel comfortable with my attendant
- and I’m investing in good quality products
It’s therefore important to communicate your difference to every website visitor and wedding fayre guest that interacts with you. Stand out. Catch attention. Be the toothpaste that gets put in the basket.
Build a good reputation
In a person-to-person (or business to consumer) industry, a good reputation can be all the difference during quiet seasons. Negative comments can be more damaging nowadays with social media slatings dominating business Twitter feed but positive word-of-mouth referrals will reduce advertising spend and increase your chance to jump straight to checking availability in the booking process.
For example, my sister-in-law recommended a Magic Mirror business that she had at her wedding to me when I was getting married. I’d had a great time at the wedding myself and my brother and her had nothing negative to say about their supplier. I had already looked at a few quotes to get an idea of what the standard hire price was before I contacted them and, being in a very similar ball-park, I booked them straight away. Why? I knew what I was getting and I trusted not only my own experience as a guest but the experience of someone who had gone through the booking process with the business also.
Building good networks and partnerships in the event world will help to future proof your business and won’t cost you a penny in advertising.
Got something to add? We’d love to hear how you’re future-proofing your photo booth business, just leave your comment below!