Now that you’ve decided you’re going to book a photo booth at your wedding, party, or event, how do you choose from the variety of choices available? A simple search anywhere on the Internet will yield dozens of options. What makes one better than the other? How do you decide the right price to pay? Which one is going to leave your guests talking about the fun they had? Which one will provide you with something to remember long after the confetti is swept off the floor?
Photo booths are a great way to entertain your guests when you can’t be everywhere. They’re great family friendly fun that will bring smiles and laughter to your wedding, party, or event. But finding the right booth for your event can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I was prompted to put this list together after hearing about a friend’s photo booth disaster.
As a provider of photo booth services, I think there is only one real rule that we must follow.
YOU DON’T GET A SECOND CHANCE; THERE ARE NO DO-OVERS.
From my experience, these are the Top Five Things you should consider when booking a photo booth for your event:
(1) Is the company legit?
This is a market with a pretty low barrier to entry. You need to know if you’re getting your booth from a real company, or a person with one booth operating out of their spare bedroom. A real company will:
- Have a phone number and call back promptly
- Be licensed and insured with the proper insurances
- Have membership or accreditation with reputable professional or business organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau
- Have verified reviews online or testimonials available
- Accept electronic forms of payment such as credit and debit cards, PayPal, or e-checks; they won’t demand cash only
(2) How big is the company?
This is important, but it’s frequently overlooked. A company without sufficient inventory or staff to cover their bookings can leave you in a last minute lurch if someone calls in sick.
(3) Does the company have good processes?
A company with good processes will return phone calls and emails in a timely fashion. They’ll ask you to write a contract, and require a deposit in advance. A deposit is not the same as paid in full. You should never have to pay the full price in advance.
Make sure the contract spells out exactly what you get for your money. There are two main types of pricing for photo booths:
- Flat Fee – this is an all inclusive price and is generally one fee for a set period of time. The Flat Fee model should include all set-up, tear-down, and travel to and from the event.
- Unbundled – this pricing will have several line items and break down every component of what you’re paying for in the service.
Both pricing models have their place. Regardless of the model your vendor uses, you need to know exactly what is included in your price before you sign the contract.
Be sure to ask them about they handle emergencies. A good company will have a plan for equipment malfunctions or a booth handler calling in sick at the last minute.
(4) QUALITY. QUALITY. QUALITY!
As noted earlier, there is a very low barrier to entry in this market, and that can mean poor lighting, poor quality equipment, and an unsatisfying experience for your guests. Ask the vendor to show you photos of the booth and to be specific about the equipment. If the vendor refuses to answer your questions, RUN!
Ask about what kind of booth you’re getting. There are several available today from the old fashioned closed “state fair” booth which only holds a couple of people to the new open-air GIF animation booths that can incorporate lots of guests in a single shot. Whichever booth type you choose, you’ll want the vendor to provide high quality equipment with professional lighting that adds to your guest’s experience and doesn’t become an eyesore or nuisance at your event.
You’ll get what you pay for. If you want a great photo booth experience, book from a vendor with high quality equipment and great reviews. Shop for the value of the service, not just the price. If a vendor can offer a photo booth for $100, there’s a reason for that. The worst way to learn that reason is because it went wrong at your event.
Check out their branding and advertising plan. Your event should be about you, not the vendor. A high quality vendor will make their business cards available when asked in a polite, but unobtrusive way. They won’t splash their logo across the middle of every photo or animation unless, of course, you ask them to, but then wouldn’t you want it to be your logo, hashtag, or event title?
(5) What do you get to remember by?
Whether it’s a scrapbook, an online gallery, or a handful of prints, it’s important to know what you will have to remember the event afterward. The photo booth will capture lots of silly moments, and you’ll want to see them all.
The bottom line is that you’re planning an event, and that’s already a stressful thing to do. You don’t need to add to the burden when your photo booth vendor flakes out, fails to communicate, or makes the planning process more difficult. Ask questions. Demand proof in the answers. A vendor who can’t or won’t answer your questions isn’t worth your time. You should be able to get most of your questions answered in one phone call. At the worst, if they’re checking into something unique, there might be a second call to confirm.