(BoothCon – A personal account by Colin Richardson – Adept Photo Booths)
Although it seems like a lifetime ago now, I officially became a Boother on St Patricks Day in 2016 with my first gig at an Irish pub in Perth’s CBD. My PhotoSnap Signature booth was fresh out of the box and I could now call myself a small business owner.
This new business venture wasn’t exactly a risky foray into the unknown, in fact it was far from it, as Adept Photo Booths was more of a ‘side hustle’ in addition to my full-time day job. However, I certainly didn’t want to enter the market just to make up the numbers, I wanted to grow a business to be profitable and something that I could be proud of.
In doing my research I found many photo booth manufacturers across Australia and internationally, however wanted to buy local for the support that I would inevitably need being a rookie in the industry. I nearly took a leap by faith by buying a booth from an east coast based company, however made a last-minute decision to buy from a Perth supplier because I could touch, feel and test the equipment first hand.
A cautious person by nature, I wanted to operate for a year and then assess what direction I would take my business. I had done my due diligence on the local market and competition so backed myself to give it a red hot go.
I tried a lot of different suppliers and different marketing initiatives in the first six months of operating. Some worked to varying degrees and plenty failed miserably making it a steep learning curve in navigating how best to promote myself and operate in a competitive photo booth market.
The announcement that Australia was going to have its own photo booth expo was like music to my ears. Whilst I had joined some Facebook groups and networked locally with some other photo booth operators, the prospect of having access to all of Australia’s leading photo booth manufacturers, operators and minds in one room was something that seemed too good to be true after my experience setting up my business 10 months earlier.
The timing was perfect for me as I was approaching a year in the game and was ready to scale up my business now that I had a basic understanding of the seasonal ups and downs of the industry. So, I packed my bags and headed to Brisbane for BoothCon 2017.
I was a bit surprised that I was the only photo booth operator to make the trip from Perth apart from a couple of Perth based exhibitors in PhotoSnap and BoothCover. Being in its first year, BoothCon may have seemed like a bit of a risk to some industry insiders – however missing this opportunity felt like a far greater risk to me, so I bought a ticket and jumped on a plane.
The tradeshow component of BoothCon was the most compelling reason for me to attend. The ability to play with all the equipment and see it operating first hand from companies including Red Robot Industries, PhotoSnap, Social Playground, The Booth Box and The Wilkes Booth Co. was reason enough for me to get on a plan and head to Queensland.
Other suppliers of backdrops, props, frames, inflatable products and printers were also on the trade show floor which made it a great opportunity to see what they had to offer and pick up some great deals! The trade show certainly didn’t disappoint, and whilst I don’t regret my decision in going for a PhotoSnap booth, I couldn’t help but think how beneficial this trade show would have been to me in the decision process of choosing a booth to buy a year earlier.
To put it simply, the seminars and educational elements of Boothcon blew my mind! The theme of Boothcon was to ‘raise the bar’ of the photo booth industry across Australia and attending certainly left me feeling energised to take Adept Photo Booths to the next level. I personally did not appreciate the calibre of photo booth wizardry coming out of Australia that are leaders on the international stage – not just here in Australia. Not only are each of these expert’s great at what they do, but they are so open to sharing their knowledge and helping rookies in the industry like me.
The area that perhaps delivered the most value for me was the after parties and networking events where I could talk to other operators and share our everyday issues, successes, similarities and soak up the collective knowledge that filled the room. Most of the Boothcon speakers were at these functions so to get further opportunity to pick their brains and hear their stories was inspirational in itself.
To sum up my BoothCon experience for 2017 I would honestly say that it was my greatest investment in my business to date. Tangible benefits to my business were realised in forging strong relationships with other operators that I have been lucky enough to work with this year and regularly ask for advice and guidance.
On the back of applying the lessons and advice learned at BoothCon 2017 the quality of my outputs such as photos and workflow has increased significantly, 50% of my business is now with corporate client’s due to my strategic focus and I am certainly putting a service out into the Perth market that I am proud of. I also picked up some great deals from the suppliers at the tradeshow (my suitcase was full of new prop and backdrops on the way home!).
I purchased my ticket to BoothCon 2018 as soon as it became available on presale. Whilst the learning curve over the past 12 months for me has been extremely steep, I still have a lot to learn and thirst for knowledge. I can’t wait to get back into the positive environment that is Boothcon and catch up with friends made last year to see how they have grown their businesses one year on.