The Hidden Costs of Cheap Photo Booths

The Hidden Costs of “Cheap” Photo Booths

Researching the Competition

I’m always working to make Max Photography a better company, which is equal parts customer service and the product we offer.  In doing so, I often do market research to see what the competition is up to, and how we can best compete.  Wedding photography and photo booth rentals are crowded markets, and ultimately I’m doing this to put food on the table, so it’s important to keep abreast of what other companies are doing.

I’ve noticed recently that the price for our photo booth rentals has started to seem out of line with what others are offering, and that initially seemed surprising to me.  When I started the photo booth side of the business, Max Photography was the cheapest photo booth offering in Austin, and in my mind, the best.  It was striking to me to see that competitors were charging less than half of what we charge, and were somehow able to stay in business and offer a decent product.*

After digging a little further, I’ve figured it out.  They’re nickel-and-diming their clients to death, which is something I’ve always refused to do.  Our photo booth rentals are all-inclusive, and have been since day one.  I’d like to showcase one of the most egregious examples that I found when searching for “photo booth packages.”

*Spoiler alert: it’s because they don’t offer a decent product

Case Study in Nickel-and-Diming

Just take a look at this screenshot from a very prominent nationwide photo booth rental company.  I’ve censored out their photos to avoid calling them out specifically, but the rest is unchanged.

Screenshot of a website showcasing how they nickel-and-dime their customers

Keeping in mind that we charge $800 for a wedding photo booth rental, which includes unlimited time, unlimited 2″x8″ photo strip prints (which are triples, by the way), props, set-up and take-down, a thumb drive of the images, and personalized photo strips, let’s do some quick math.

This particular company charges a $299 base rate, which seems fantastic.  Look a little closer, however, and you’ll see that the price is for 3 hours (as best as I can tell; it may be 1.5 hours, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt), with single 4″x6″ prints which have the company’s logo prominently displayed where your name should be.

If you want to match what Max Photography offers, you’ll need to purchase quite a few add-ons.

1.5 extra hours (for a typical 4.5 hour rental)- $225

“Name Personalization”- $50

Props- $50

Double 2″x6″ strips (they don’t even offer 2″x8″ strips, and we do triple strips rather than double, so it’s not a direct comparison here)- $90

Unlimited prints- $270

Social Media Upload- $350

CD of images (we do thumb drives because it’s 2017, not 2000)- $100

Animated GIFs (we have the capability of doing this, though it’s not something anyone has ever requested)- $500

Idle time (a typical wedding has about 2 hours between set-up and rental start)- $200

Travel (say 35 miles)- $70

Insurance certificate fee (why they charge you to prove they have insurance is beyond me)- $50

And the kicker is that they add an 18% service charge to all bookings

Grand total: $2659

That’s absolutely bananas.  It’s nearly 9 times more expensive than the initial price they quote.  Meanwhile, our price has stayed the same, at $800.  Our price is less than a third of theirs.

To make matters even worse, they have eight one-star reviews on Yelp.  On the other hand, we’ve never received less than a five-star review.

Do Some Research on Your Photo Booth Company Before Booking

All this is to show that it’s important to do a bit of due diligence before booking your wedding photo booth rental.  What may seem like a great deal could turn out to be a costly mistake.  We’d love it if you chose us!