If you haven’t read part 1, give it a read here first: How to make the most of a wedding expo/bridal show, part 1.
Are these shows really worth the investment?
Sometimes when I look at the vendor fees for getting into these expos, I wonder if I should be in the expo business. Reserving a vendor booth at a wedding expo is a big investment of both time and money. The timeline for the expo itself is at least an afternoon, if not an entire day, plus setup and tear down. Factor in the additional time in preparing the booth itself, any giveaways you plan to offer throughout the day, and a system for acquiring and following up on leads…..and you have accrued a substantial amount of time. From a purely financial standpoint, you have the cost of the booth, generally somewhere between $300-500, any materials needed to make your booth stand out visually, plus the cost of promotional materials, prizes, and giveaways. Wedding expos require a significant investment of both time and money, but (depending on your pricing model of course) even just booking one wedding should turn a profit or at least break even.
Should you be at every wedding expo?
In short, probably not, you should be selective. Don’t set up your booth at an expo that is unorganized or held in an undesirable location; do some research and ask other vendors for opinions before submitting your deposit. Select expos that are annual events with good word-of-mouth reviews. Ask the organizers if they limit the number of each type of vendor, ideally you would like to be the only photo booth vendor or, at most, one of two or three. This will help you stand out from the crowd of vendors and make your booth more memorable.
Network, network, network!
Take advantage of the setup and tear down time to network with other vendors. Get to know the vendors you encounter, notice how often you see them at expos and what they are doing that works or, perhaps more importantly, doesn’t work. Brides often ask for recommendations of other vendors for their wedding so establish a good rapport with florists, DJs, dress shops, caterers, photographers, video-graphers, event planners etc. Take notes on specifics that you love or hate so you can be a good resource for brides and earn their trust. A happy client will recommend you to her friends and family so it behooves you to help your bride.
Don’t limit your relationship building to other vendors but make sure you network with event staff as well. It is likely that the site of the wedding expo is also a popular wedding venue so you want to ingratiate yourself with venue staff who are often asked for recommendations. Ask to be placed on the venue’s “preferred vendor” list that is distributed to clients booking an event at the site, an invaluable marketing tool.
Followup, followup, followup.
The big question is: will you book an event during a wedding expo? I’ll be honest, at my first expo, I didn’t make one on the spot booking. However, in the months after the expo, I converted 3-5 during the followup. The list you generate or receive from the venue is so valuable. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t book anyone on the spot. Hopefully you are charging a lot of money and therefore it’s not an impulse decision for most.
When you factor in the number of leads and contacts you have generated, the number of people who are now aware of your business and hopefully have a positive memory associated with your photo booth, and the advantages of networking with other event vendors and event site staff, it is definitely worth the time and money to invest in a booth at a wedding expo.
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Great advice. I would like to see another post about this topic. I am a few days away from going to an expo. One topic i would like to read about is what kind of promotions to give during the expo (efective). Or perhaps a more in depth, with images of effective setups. (Not the photo booth but your expo setup).
Thanks Juan, check out the Facebook groups for those pics.