At the inception of Impressius, our founder Nicolas Brunet recognized an untapped opportunity: picture marketing for venues. Here’s what everyone knows: photobooths and photographers are popular at events. These events happen at venues. Why wouldn’t these venues offer tangible photo memories to their guests, too? Why limit it to events instead of an always-on, everyday feature? Customers would love this; and with clever use of technology, they would at the same time become the venue’s brand ambassadors effortlessly.
This belief has fueled our company’s vision and product design early on. Beyond events, we also want to serve venues which are often struggling to make a name for themselves online, and leverage on the content their customers generate inside their premises: selfies! Within 3 years of existence, we have installed our Impressius Boxes in all kinds of places of interest: hotels, restaurants, bars, airports, attractions, shopping malls, supermarkets, retail stores… with varying degrees of success. Indeed, introducing innovation to the market is a rocky path. We had to overcome numerous challenges, figure out solutions to unexpected problems, and we are still learning – it is only the beginning of our journey. It took us time and effort to gather this experience, which we are sharing here.
What our product does
As a reminder, the Impressius Box allows users to instantly print a picture from their smartphone and share it on social media. Along the way, our system can capture email data and deliver a detachable coupon with the printout. Thus, the benefits of having an Impressius booth for venues are:
- enhance the guest experience with a branded, tangible souvenir
- amplify visibility on the social media with a daily flow of likes, shares, followers, and check-ins
- increase revenue and customer loyalty thanks to the coupon and email database
Finding the right spot
This will sound obvious but where we place our machine inside the premises is the determining factor for daily usage stats. Results can vary by 100x with the spot you choose. Hint: a dark, isolated corner won’t cut it. An optimal location will be visible, accessible and with high foot traffic. We have seen usage go from a couple prints per day to 200 depending on the setup.
Our Box is compact, which presents the advantage of being easy to carry and install anywhere, even when space is limited. But despite its bright HD screen and funky LED, it can go unnoticed in large areas such as a hotel lobby. We found that a proper setup and signage greatly help attract crowds. The best is when your signage is dynamic: see below this TV displaying a live photo gallery. People are always excited to see themselves on a screen.
Tech support: managing the fleet
Once we’ve installed or shipped our machines, most of the time we wish them farewell because we are never going to see them again. They go to another city, country or even continent. So we have to make sure our hardware, software, and backend infrastructure are robust and stable, and that we can monitor and troubleshoot every machine remotely. It would be an operational headache otherwise. Our team of engineers is working every day to improve this and we push regular updates to our units. It’s starting to look like an IoT fleet!
Inevitably, issues arise, whether the cause is technical or human. It became necessary to create a tech support function which is extremely responsive – thanks to procedures and a rotation schedule – reachable via email, phone or chat, whatever our customers prefer. Which leads to the next point:
Communication & training
The vast majority of issues reported are due to human mistakes, hence we quickly realized the importance of proper training for all staff involved with the machine – waitresses, sales staff, welcome agents… How many times have we heard “Help! It does not print!”. Well, have you checked if the printer is out of paper? (it’s signaled in obvious ways but you were probably not trained). Has the user followed the correct steps? (oh, I forgot her Instagram account has to be public). Is the machine plugged to power? (yes, we even had this classic one). We are constantly looking for ways to make our system more foolproof, so, fortunately, these mishaps happen less and less. We do get funny ones from time to time though; our customers always find more creative ways to use our product than us!
Now that everyone has a chat app on their phone, it’s very convenient to create groups for tech support and keep an open, instant communication line with a supervisor. This system probably won’t scale to hundreds of installations but it’s working like a charm so far.
Last but not least, our printers can be refilled in less than 5 seconds. A busy staff can be alerted when a paper refill is needed and perform it in the blink of an eye. There is no ink or messy ribbon to replace. Just load and go. That has avoided us a ton of trouble. We have seen other companies trying installations with bulky, high capacity ink based printers but their own employees have to regularly go to venues to perform the refilling due to the complexity of the task. A no-go for us: staff intensive and not scalable. We decided early on to make our units as autonomous as possible.
Ah, the great question. How much? And which model: per month, per print, per lead? Sell the photobooth outright, with a maintenance fee? Charge users per photo? Although old school coin-operated booths have been around for a long time with well-established models, pricing for new generation photobooth kiosk installations remains a great question because nobody has figured it out yet. Since our primary focus is creating word of mouth for venues, we want to remove as much friction as possible for users to interact with our Box. Therefore, printing photos are always free for guests (with restrictions to prevent abuse, of course); we excluded charging them in our model. We are fundamentally a marketing tool for businesses, not a photo printing service for consumers. Some companies like Boft are in the latter category. The printing process bears similarities but their business model is completely different. But who knows what we’ll become in the coming years!
If we’re talking about B2B, each type of client will be willing (or not!) to pay a different price. Each national market will also naturally have different expectations. Restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions and alcohol brands at duty-free counters will:
- have a different margin structure, and therefore a different budget
- have different sales & marketing objectives
- derive value from our technology in different ways
- show the various appetite for innovation and maturity levels in digital
Our current model is a monthly (or yearly) flat fee, plus the cost of consumable. There are other possible ways such as a charge per print, per lead or per social media share. We will soon experiment on a hybrid performance-based model and hope to report on the results later this year.
How much do we charge? We are still experimenting with pricing so if you want to inquire on our current rates, get in touch. Our event prices are well defined but we are not totally clear on our long term installation model yet, so we are not sharing its pricing on our website at the moment. It happened that we charged some clients up to 5 times more for a yearly rental, compared to other clients. But the context, needs, and level of service were vastly different.
The delicate pricing equation we try to optimize involves ROI for customers, their budget, our margins and our desired speed for market penetration. It’s a balancing act and there is still plenty of room for experimentation.
Curious to learn more?
If you manage a venue and need to grow your social media presence, contact us today. For photo booth owners who want to learn more about this new revenue stream opportunity, see here or connect with us on our Facebook page.