With so many different photo booth styles (of varied quality) and many companies in the market, it can be very daunting 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 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 every event. We can’t come back the next day to finish the job. We must understand that our brides and hosts planned their special day for weeks or 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 a business or “one man/machine” working from 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 callback
- Do they have accreditation, such as BBB (Better Business Bureau)?
- Does the company have a good reputation?
- Read “verified” reviews online. 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 excellent 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 in 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 crucial. Photo booths (equipment) are constantly 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, you have to consider the possibility of an emergency or illness.
Often you are planning your event weeks/months. So to reduce the risk of something going wrong, work with a company with systems in place and a large team of operators. Also, please find out how many events they do per week or month. Most reputable photo booth vendors will average at least five weekly events. Good companies will plan for emergencies, so ask them how they handle unexpected 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 its photos, then I would be careful about their quality.
Homemade photo booth – not a professional option.[/caption]
Find out if they custom design their photo booth strips from scratch. Many photo booth vendors will change the “writing” on a strip but use the same template over and over.
Ask for photos of their booth, enclosure, props, and event setups. If they can’t show it, then proceed with caution. Additionally, you should ensure they have an actual factory-made booth rather than a “homemade” system. Find out if they use a webcam to take pictures or a real 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 to attend one of their events before yours and see them in action.
(4) Process and Price
Please find out about their deposit requirements. All good companies will require a small deposit, but you should never have to pay in total upfront. Ensure 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.
It would help if you never had to meet someone at the corner store to sign a contract 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 there’s no need to add additional stress from a shaky photo booth vendor. You should be able to get answers to everything I mentioned above with one phone call to the company and a 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, move on to the next vendor.