5 Keys To Choosing The Right Booth – By Ryan Burger
The following is a look at what you need to consider when making an initial or additional investment in a photo booth for your company. After asking some of manufacturers and suppliers, and some DJ/business owners who have purchased them, I’ve narrowed it down to the following list of things you should be taking into account when deciding what booth to buy.
1) Price: Of course this would be listed here, and for many people, this is the #1 thing to look at. But of course, you get what you pay for. There are professionally built photo booths available that range in price from $3,500 to $10,000. Make sure to figure the price including the dye sub printer, which you will need whether it’s listed as part of the deal or not. There appears to be a sweet spot around 6-7k where there are a lot of good offerings available.
When our company has purchased booths (we own four of them), we have always looked at what our return on investment will be. At an average of $600 per booth rental, with $200 in on event costs ($150 for staff, $50 for consumables), we have $400 left to go towards paying off the technology and then for profit. Thus after 15 events, an average $6,000 booth is paid off. And if you read my previous article, you understand that it’s a pretty good turn on the investment when it’s another seven or eight years before having to do some real booth remodeling.
2) Style/Size: There are many photo booth manufacturers that have unique designs that all essentially do the same thing. The most popular style that I’ve seen was first launched to the DJ industry by Open Air Photo Booths: an open environment, road-case based hardware with either a rod drape, a tent, or some other similar covering. In one or two cases, the computer, camera, flash/lights and dye sub printer are mounted. Now, with tablets and smaller PCs being popular in such units, they are getting thinner and thinner.
Then there are the pedestal type units that house the computer, camera and flash in a larger top unit on a stand, with the printer sitting separately.
And finally there is the traditional photo booth style where guests sit inside, more like what you would have seen at the mall or an arcade in the past.
One other thing to remember is transportation of the booth. Make sure you are able to move it to events and set it up in no more than ten minutes, once you have it in position. Paying 20% more for the ease of setting up faster is probably worth it.
3) Software: Some companies have their own software that is only available when purchasing the booth, and you are then tied to their hardware/software. However, most are using some of the more popular software platforms available for booth systems. The most common combinations are either Dark Room or Breeze software installed on Windows 8 or 10.
When considering the software for your booth that is included in your booth purchase, make sure to look at what it does beyond standard photo strips to generate the overall guests’ overall experience. Look at how you configure and customize the strip, and whether you have to work in Photoshop or another graphics editor, or if it has something built in. Also check on video and green screen functionality, flip books and more.
Recent major upgrades to photo booth software functionality include tie-ins to Facebook and other social media. Does your software let you post out to the bride’s Facebook event page? Email the pictures or SMS them to the guests individually? When done well, these features don’t slow down the photo booth experience much and can separate you out from the average photo booth operator. Features like this also allow you to offer something that your competitors in the local market don’t offer.
4) Consumables: Once you buy the booth, your largest cost will be paying someone to staff it at events and the printer consumables such as paper, ink/cartridges, and props. Most photo booth systems are using standard dye sub printers that will cost you between 15 cents and 20 cents per 4” x 6” print. Make sure to check into the consumables options available for your unit and where to get them from.
5) The People Behind It: In my opinion, this is the most important key. Are you able to get in contact with them for LIVE support? Will they be in business three years from now, so that you will be able to get them to help you with upgrades or similar? It comes down to believing in the company you are getting it from.
In the 10 years that Mobile Beat has been helping to market photo booths to DJs, we have seen about 30 to 35 different companies come into the market, but only about 10 or 15 of them have lasted and are still around in some form, and 8 to 10 continue doing a reasonable amount of business.
If they have a good style that differentiates them from other companies, good software, good manufacturing quality and are charging a reasonable price for the booth, hopefully they are making money at it so they’ll be around as time goes by.
Thanks to all the industry members who have served the DJ market with quality photo booth hardware, software and consumables. And a special thanks to Nick Andrews of Open Air Photo Booth who first got my DJ company into this lucrative marketplace for weddings.
Make sure to check out photo booth units in person at a trade show or elsewhere, where you can feel and touch them. Look for more in this as we dig a little deeper into some of the points mentioned above, and share other ideas to help you make money from photo booths!
Filed Under: Issue #167, PhotoBooths
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