With so many different photo booth styles (of varied quality) and so many companies in the market, it can be a very daunting task for customers to pick the right photo booth vendor. To add to the confusion, the prices can range from “dirt cheap” to “very expensive”….what’s the difference? What should you look for? How do you know who to trust and who to book for your very special day?
Unfortunately, I read an online review for a photo booth vendor that really bothered me, and compelled me to write this post. You can find that review here.
Any vendor involved in the event business must understand and follow this cardinal rule: There is no do-over or second chance. We must do all we can to be perfect at each and every event. We can’t come back the next day to finish the job. We must understand our brides and hosts planned their special day for weeks, even months. They have trusted us to be a small part of their celebration, and we must take that responsibility seriously.
Using my experience and knowledge about the photo booth business, I would like to list a few things for you to consider:
(1) Research the company
- Are they an actual business or “one man / one machine” working form home?
- Go to their website and see if they have an office address
- Call their office number and see if you get an answer or an immediate call back
- Do they have accreditation such as BBB (Better Business Bureau)?
- Does the company have a good reputation?
- Read “verified” reviews on line. Look at reviews from multiple sources such as Google, Yelp, Facebook, Wedding Wire, etc. Pick any review they may have posted and see if you can speak to that former client. No one will have perfect 5 star reviews but look at the trend. Look into their accreditation such as BBB for any complaints
- Do they carry liability and professional insurance?
- All professional companies should carry the required insurance policies. Many of your venues will require that all vendors are insured, so ask this question early on.
(2) Research the size of the company
How many photo booths do they have on inventory? How many staff members do they have? How many events do they average per week?Per month?
Most people do not consider this, but it’s extremely important. Photo booths (equipment) are always being moved from location to location. Things can go wrong from time to time. If you are dealing with a “one man / one machine” company, they may be unable to correct a problem if/when an issue arises. If there are only 1 or 2 photo booth operators, then you have to consider the possibility of an emergency or illness.
Often you are planning your event weeks/months in advance. So to reduce risk of something going wrong, work with a company that has systems in place and a large team of operators. Also find out how many events they do per week or month. Most reputable photo booth vendors will average at least 5 or more events per week. Good companies will plan for emergencies, so ask them how they handle unplanned issues during an event.
(3) Quality – Ask to see proof
Most reputable photo booth companies will have an online gallery of their events. From the event albums you should be able to tell the quality of their photos, what type of props they use, how many events they have, etc. If you come across a company that is afraid to showcase their photos, then I would be careful about their quality.
Find out if they custom design their photo booth strips from scratch. Lots of photo booth vendors will just change the “writing” on a strip but use the same template over and over.
Ask to see photos of their booth, enclosure, props and event setups. If they can’t show it then proceed with caution. Additionally, you should make sure they have an actual factory-made booth, rather than a “home made” system. Find out if they use a webcam to take pictures or an actual DSLR camera with flash (here’s a hint – a webcam is not a good option).
Ask them if you can come to their showroom and see the system if needed. Another option is going to one of their events prior to yours and see them in action.
(4) Process and Price
Find out about their deposit requirements. All good companies will require a small deposit, but you should never have to pay in full up front. Make sure there are no hidden charges such as travel, setup or breakdown, downtime, service charges, taxes, etc. Reputable companies will have an all inclusive flat rate.
You should never have to meet someone at the corner store to sign a contact or give a deposit. Professional companies will offer payments and event coordination online.
So what did we learn?
Please know who you are hiring for your special event. You already have enough to deal with, so no there’s no need to add additional stress from a shaky photo booth vendor. Everything I mentioned above you should be able to get answers to with one phone call to the company and few minutes online. One more thing – save yourself the headache and don’t go with “Groupon Deals”. Consider this: if a photo booth company has to be on groupon, then they are desperate for business….why? Saving $100 is not worth the headache. The people that can do a 3 hour event for $299 don’t have the overhead to run a professional business, so you may not get professional service.
Bottom line: Ask a lot of questions. Demand answers and proof. If they can’t provide it then move on to the next vendor.