Are Photo Booth Expo's Worthwhile?
Only four short years ago there wasn't a photo booth expo to be found anywhere, but now it feels like there is a new one popping up every few months and a fair question for anyone to ask is: are photo booth expo's worthwhile and which one should I attend?
Before we delve into that, let's talk a bit about the main expos/conferences/educational events running right now around the world:
A List of the best Photo Booth Industry Expo's and Conferences
- Photo Booth Expo (USA) - The first major expo held in Las Vegas every March is coming into its 4th year having started in 2015 by Rob Savickis. This is the premier world photo booth expo and is now attracting over 4000 people from all over the world and filling up to 400 exhibitor spaces. It has dozens of educational seminars and after parties over the now 4 day event (was 3 up until 2017)
- BoothCon (AUS) - Australia's answer to PBX is coming into its second year put together by yours truly (Justin Jowett) is a 2 day event held in a different Australian capital city (was Brisbane in 2017, moving to Sydney in 2018) every January and it's major focus is education with seminars and master classes. A trade show of mostly local and some international exhibitors also forms part of the event. Australian and some New Zealand photo booth operators is the main source of attendees.
- The Photo Booth Show (UK) - Jon Sharp has been planning the UKs first photo booth expo for awhile now and it is finally set to take place in Northhampton in Oct 2017. Similar to BoothCon it will be a 2 day event with a mix of trade show and educational speakers and is for all European based photo booth operators.
- Photo Booth Professionals International Academy (USA) - PBPI was the first truly educational conference in the US with it's roots in the first PBX shows Master Classes which they ran. Officially into its second year and like BoothCon this event moves around and is held in January every year. The first year was in New Orleans with Dallas set to host in 2018. With a limited intake of 200 max per year this event is very focused on curated education and has a select no. of manufacturers and suppliers in their "Tech Alley".
- Booth Summit (USA) - Another highly educationally focused event Booth Summit saw its first year in 2017 and run by PBSCO (Photo Booth Supply Co) and is mainly targeted to existing PBSCO clients but definitely has a wider appeal. Held in LA every April the event has a more laid back feel being hosted on the beach with beach activities interspersed with the education.
- SuperBoothers (USA) - SuperBoothers is a photo booth business podcast who have also started offering social/education events around the US. So far they have one in New York and Las Vegas planned in 2017. Here the setting is far more relaxed than the aforementioned events with the education taking place over dinner amongst a small group of boothers including the hosts of the show Ryan Salinas and Ismail Humet.
- Booth Camp (USA / South America) - Coming in somewhere between the Super Boothers event and Booth Summit. Booth Camp is curated education set in a relaxed atmosphere where the speakers and attendees all holiday, learn and share together. There are also 2 events currently planned for 2017 and is an extension of Chris Meyer's Photo Booth Community Facebook group.
What value can I expect at a Photo Booth Expo/Conference/Event?
There are 4 main areas of value that attending a photo booth expo/conference /educational event can bring. The degree to which they will bring this value will vary from event to event:
- Trade Show
- Educational Content
Let's take a look at these 4 areas of value in a bit more detail:
1. Trade Show
A dedicated floor space for manufacturers and suppliers of photo booth related goods and services to show their wares. The trade show floor is a great asset to the new or long running photo booth operator to be able to see, touch and experience a wide range of products. From the expected photo booths, printer/print media albums, props, backdrops to software/app creators, insurance and finance agents it can all be there. PBX is by far and away the biggest trade show with 400 spaces filled. BoothCon, PBPI Academy and The Photo Booth Show all have small trade shows with under 30 exhibitors. I am not aware of the other events having a trade show component.
2. Educational Content
Probably of most underestimated value to attendees is the educational content that is available to them. Successful industry and non industry speakers impart (generally for free) amazing tips, tricks, insider info that they have garnered on their own photo booth journeys. Some expos and educational events have a strict no selling policy so speakers are truly focused on helping attendees and not selling them any particular product of service for which they might advocate. The way in which the educational content is delivered will vary from event to event. The bigger events will tend to have seminars and/or master classes with the smaller ones being in a more intimate setting.
The opportunity to meet and network with other industry colleagues who could potentially be a source of direct or indirect future support, business opportunities or referrals is extremely high. If you are attending any photo booth event this should be something focused on to bring added value. Many a valuable business partnership has been formed this way and can open your business (or one your yet to think of) up to a sudden and unexpected period of growth. A great example is the formation of SuperBoothers, Ryan and Ismail met by chance on the trade show floor and spent hours chatting and together came up with what is now the premier source of photo booth information via podcast.
Last but not least there is a massive social element to all these events. The bigger expos and conferences will host a variety of after parties both officially or through third parties. For the smaller events you will even be mingling directly with the speakers granting you amazing access to them. Also the chance to mingle and shoot the breeze with a bunch of people who get what it is like to be a photo boother makes for an enjoyable experience and can lead to some amazing friendships.
Why is photo booth education important?
Unlike many other industries there is a very low barrier of entry to entering the photo booth industry which naturally attracts people who may not have any business qualifications or a full range of experience. This means that the industry is full of people who are lacking in business knowledge and all fighting an uphill battle to learn as they go along. Whilst this is not un-achievable the steep learning curve and overwhelming and unexpected complexity to running a successful business means there is a high failure rate of photo booth businesses. A big part of the problem is that old adage "You dont know what you dont know" and all too often I have spoken to business owners who believe they have tried everything to get their businesses to work when really they haven't they just ran out of their own ideas.
Attending a photo booth educational event is a quick and easy way to get a crash course in valuable knowledge without having to make the normal mistakes that you would have to learn those lessons yourself. Yes it costs money to attend but the pay off is the knowledge you learn that can have your business on track faster. Another way to look at it is "How much is not attending going to cost me?"
So, which photo booth event should I attend?
All the aforementioned photo booth expos, conferences and events have merit and all of them are going to bring you value to varying degrees. Your best source of advice is of course going to be talking to other boothers who have already attended. Aside from geographical limitations more important than which is that you go to at least one and see for yourself. I bet it won't be your last!
Disclaimer: While every caution has been taken to provide readers with most accurate information and honest analysis, please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this blog. Author will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.
(Photo Booth Blogger: Justin Jowett)