Can you really get a photo booth for $199?

I did a google search for “photo booth,” and I must have seen at least three ads that said “photo booth for $199”.  This made me realize I must write a post explaining the dangers of these types of bait-and-switch tactics.

  1. Read the fine print.   “$199 per hr.”    What does that mean?  Getting a photo booth for 3 hours will cost $600. Yes, it sounds better than saying a 3-hour package for $550 or $600, but it’s the exact cost. It’s a bait to get you to call them.

One of the links took me to Groupon. Wow…Now Groupon is filled with even worse tactics.  Some are funny and some…..well, let’s look into it.

First, the funny!

What in the world is that? That entire section of “digital photography has nothing to do with the photo booth…..unbelievable!
Now to “The fine print” – “valid only within 30 miles of zip code DFW Airport” – What is that? Oh…” extra fee of $1 per mile outside service area”.
No reference to what is included in the package.  The significant part is that 7 – yes, seven people bought this package. We wish them well.

Here’s another example: I looked into this because this one had 24 reviews and almost five stars.

86% off the regular price! $105 for a two-hour photo booth rental, $135 for 3 hours, and $165 for 4 hours!

OK….so we must be doing something wrong if this is the case.  Below are some facts; I will not insult your intelligence so you can decide for yourself.

1. I did a google search for this company, but NOT a single google review….strange.

2. I went to their website, and  it stated

With over 16 years of experience in the industry, our goal is to make your event planning process an amazing experience. Our team of specialized coordinators will build packages that will fit your exact needs and your budget. We understand the finances and time commitment to planning any event. Ensuring your event is full of fun and memories is our top priority!”

So this is tricky. If you noticed, they have been in business for 16 years but have no reviews, event photos, or references outside of what’s on Groupon. Then I realized they never mentioned photo booth in this statement; that’s because they are not just a photo booth company. They are a bounce house company with a photo booth on the side. If you don’t read between the lines, this statement is designed to make you think they are experienced in the photo booth industry.

So what’s wrong with $165 for 4 hours?  Without going into capital cost, depreciation schedule, hardware replacement cycle, and all….let me focus on event operation cost.
a. For a 4-hour event, staff will have to be paid for travel time, setup time, event time, and tear-down time.  We have done thousands of photo booth activation, and I can tell you from experience it will take ~1 hour on average for travel, 1 hour for setup, 4-hour event, and 30 mins to break down and remove the equipment. In our industry, photo booth operators are paid by “event hours” or “package.” A four-hour package will cost $140 to $175 for staff costs.

b. Print cost – depending on the printer used, it can cost anywhere from .14 to .19 cents per print. Again that’s just paper and media. No capital cost. So let’s assume about $75 in consumables for this event.

Without going into other costs such as – props, backdrops, insurance, redundancy, etc.,   their $165 for 4 hours is below the price.
Now let’s take the 60% Groupon keeps from their booking.  $165 – $99 = $66.  This company will get $66 for a 4-hour event.

The math just does not add up. Anyone can add a stock picture to their ad and make you think you are getting quality for 165 dollars but ask yourself:

Can a company survive (forget 16 years) if it gives away its product and service?
So what’s the catch….. bait, and switch.

We get at least one call weekly from clients saying, “our photo booth company canceled on us.”  When you are planning your special event, make sure you select the proper vendors. There are many reputable photo booth companies in Dallas. Make sure you ask a lot of questions. If you review our FAQs, we have many questions answered, and you will get an idea of what to ask other companies.  Regardless of who you choose, our office staff is available to answer any questions you might have. We wish you all the best in finding the right provider to meet your requirements.

Thank you,

RPB Office Team.

What’s this new “selfie station” ?

“selfie station” is a tiny unit (Only requires about ~2×2 space to set up) but packed with many options. 

“photo strips,” a.k.a “single photo” – This option allows guests to take photos very similar to “photo booth” and sets those photos into a “photo strip” similar to photo booth prints.
“GIF” – This option allows guests to take a series of 3, 4, or 5 photos and create a GIF (animation) using those photos.
“Boomerang” – This option takes   10 to 15 photos, shot like a short video, and then plays those photos like a video – in a loop / backward and forwards.
“green screen” – Very similar to an actual green screen activation, it takes photos of guests before a green screen and then replaces it with different background images. Please note that you will need more space with this option because of the 8×8 green screen backdrop and extra lighting required.
Digital Props – Any of the options mentioned above can have digital props. Guests select digital props, which are automatically placed on their faces/heads / etc.  No need for actual braces.

Once the pictures are taken, guests can email or text their photos/videos / GIFs immediately. Custom-designed microsite links are emailed/texted to them. They can also post these photos to any social media site.

Can you print from these selfie stations?

Yes. Even though these units are designed as “digital stations,” we can print from them if you like to add that option. Please note that if you add printing, it will require additional space to set up and slow down the process.

What is the best use of a selfie station?

Good question. Selfie stations are a LOT of fun. It’s an excellent option for your cocktail hour / happy hour when guests are waiting to enter the reception area. Its small footprint allows it to be set up anywhere; all we need is a wall outlet. It can also be moved inside the reception area once guests leave the cocktail area.  A lot of our guests add a selfie station to photo booth packages.

What is the main difference between a selfie station and a photo booth?

The selfie station is set up (in most cases) without a backdrop, unlike a photo booth. Selfie stations do not have a DSLR camera or external flash like a photo booth. Finally, these units are designed as “digital sharing stations,” unlike a photo booth which always comes with instant printing.

I hope this information is helpful, but we are always available at 469-751-7331 to answer all your questions.
Thank you.
RPB Team.