Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to get 'The Very Best' from a Balloon Convention!

Attending a convention for the very first time can be a daunting experience... what can you expect? Will you recoup your investment? How can you make it the best experience ever?

So with less than 2 weeks to go until the 2012 World Balloon Convention, I invited some of our industries leading instructors to share their Top Tips and suggestions on how to get the very best from a balloon convention... and a little bit more!

How would you describe your experience when you attended your very first balloon convention?

 Robbie Furman - 1st Balloon Convention Twist & Shout - USA 2007
" My first balloon convention was an emotional, exciting roller coaster from the moment I got there till the last goodbye". - Robbie Furman CBA

Azusa Ieizumi - 1st Balloon Convention JBAN - Japan  1999
 "Amazing! I have never seen such a wonderful balloon works before"! - Azusa Ieizumi CBA

Tope Abulude - 1st Balloon Convention European Balloon Symposium Paris - 1995 

"It was mind blowing"!!!!!!!!!!! - Tope Abulude CBA

Colin Myles - 1st Balloon Convention European Balloon Symposium Amsterdam -1994
 "It blew my mind, and realised I had found what I wanted to do with my professional life". - Colin Myles CBA

Lisa Swiger - 1st Balloon Convention  Balloon Camp Las Vegas 2007
 "I came home with so many new, money-making ideas that it was literally a turning point for our business". - Lisa Swiger CBA

Alberto Falcone - 1st Balloon Convention BACI - Italy 1997
"You can choose: Alluring - Appealing - Attractive - Captivating - Charming - Engaging - Fascinating - Glamorous - Insite - Intriguing - Prepossessing - Ravishing - Winning -inspiring... Speaking about the first event, to go there like a child opening his/her Christmas gifts... Full of desire to play and enjoy with it!   " - Alberto Falcone CBA

Amanda Armstrong - 1st Balloon Convention  IBAC 16 Chicago, 2000
" I learned so much and was excited to get back to my business to implement all of the new techniques and designs that I had just seen.  I also made many new friends that I still see today".   - Amanda Armstrong CBA

David Taylor - 1st Balloon Convention BASA- Tasmania, Australia 2003
 "mind blowing and design expanding.Helped me to think more broadly about what is possible with balloons". - David Taylor CBA

Alex Arroyo & Pepe Posada - 1st Balloon Convention Qualatex Event Mexico, 1990
I just got CRAZY at the time I felt in my hand  my first Qualatex Balloon a WHITE 16” wow!! And we saw so many doors to open  for this business! - Alex Arroyo CBA 

 What top tip would you give to someone who has never attended a convention or event so that they maximise their experience?

 "try to work with one of the competitors" - Tope  

"Bring a camera and take lots of pictures of EVERYTHING – from ideas you want to recreate all the way through large sculptures that will inspire you.  At some point, you will forget things because the experience can be so overwhelming.  When you get home, you’ll have hundreds of photos to help you remember"! - Lisa

"take lots of notes and photos in your classes.  As soon as you return to your business build at least one design that you saw everyday for the next two weeks.  Take a pic and try to sell it". - David 

"Go and help as much as you can:  in the sculptures, the events! It’s a great opportunity to learn and of course go to principles and design class"! - Alex

"Attend everything, from helping with the set-up, or competitions, to classes to parties, speak to people, ( you will find everyone very friendly ) do not worry about sleep, you can sleep when you get home". - Colin

"the spirit to learn and to discover every time something new is the right way to attend all seminars, also after tenths". - Alberto

"Always lend a helping hand whenever possible.  Hands on experience is always the best teacher.  Look for and learn new techniques that you can use in your designs.  Take lots of pictures to refer to when you get back to your business. Ask LOTS of questions, don't be afraid, you'll get out of it only what you put into it.  Have fun and make new friends"!
 - Amanda

"Now that I have attended many conventions and have learned so many things from them over the years, I recommend to a new conventioneer, to keep in mind, that when you go to your first convention, you will want to come to more and more.  SO, Since you are going to be coming to many conventions…take it SLOW.  Yes, don’t worry about trying to take EVERY class, don’t worry to try and learn how to create every design.  Take it slow.  Take lots of pictures, learn who the teachers are and what they are teaching, and make notes of it for future conventions if there is something that does not fit into your schedule at the WBC or if the designs may be a little more advanced then you are ready to create.  My biggest recommendation would be to leave the convention with a handful of great ideas and recipes.  Take these home, MASTER them and we will see you at the next convention"! - Robbie

How would you recommend/suggest that a first time attendee put’s their new found knowledge into practice when they return after an event? 
"Organize all of the pictures and notes that you've taken on your computer so that you can make quick reference to them when you're designing your next event.  When you get back, practice the best learned techniques so that they become second nature". - Amanda

"Personally I was inspired from Marvin Hardy: “there are three very important things to do to be a good balloon artist: practice, practice, practice. It’s really important, Just in this way is possible to reach the right sensitivity and the right knowledge about the elements which are  peculiars in this work". - Alberto

"One of the best things I ever did was come home and practice the skills I felt would best impact my business.  I picked a few “MUST DOs” from the convention and when I got home, I immediately started recreating the ideas.  I then had my own photos to add to my portfolio and the practice to confidently sell the idea". - Lisa

"They have to be proactive with whatever they have learnt...practice any new techniques immediately and implement the changes you  think will be beneficial to your business - Tope

 "take lots of notes and photos in your classes.  As soon as you return to your business build at least one design that you saw everyday for the next two weeks.  Take a pic and try to sell it". - David

"Attend everything, from helping with the set-up, or competitions, to classes to parties, speak to people, ( you will find everyone very friendly ) do not worry about sleep, you can sleep when you get home"! - Colin

 "That is just it, you said the word Sue…Practice.  Practice makes perfect.  But what do you do with the design when you are done Practicing it?  That is where MARKETING comes into play.  See if you can find a local library or a business in the area you are friendly with and bring it to them as a gift.  Let the world see your designs and the possibilities of what YOU can create for someone’s special event". - Robbie

"The first thing is ORGANIZE YOURSELF! You are going to find a lot of information in your class notes  and pictures,  organize them!, My best suggestion is start practice reproducing what you saw, what you’ve learned and once you achieve the result you wanted go and sell it! Never practice with your client"! - Alex 

Is there any one thing that you learned or gained from a convention/ event that has given you an instant return on your investment?

"I have never been to a convention that I did not find something that I could incorporate into my business" -  Colin
"I approached clients more confidently because I was now equipped  with the skills necessary to compete with other vendors on the same keel" - Tope
"If you make it, you can price it.  If you take a pic, you can sell it"! - David
"I think the biggest instant return on investment was a class I took on centerpieces.  Before that class, we were only offering basic designs, but after seeing some more advanced designs with foils and creative bases put together, we were able to offer much more sophisticated (and more money-making) designs" - Lisa
"I think every detail I learned and I’m learning and I will learn are important and essential for different motivations and to reach different goals like to be faster or to increase my works book with new ideas, for example". - Alberto
"I  remember taking a class from Bruce Walden. We learned how to create a balloon logo on foam board and I was able to start selling it to corporate clients.  I also remember Crystal Narramore's Wedding Class and the marketing tips we learned for doing bridal shows. Since I had never done one before, it gave me the confidence to try it out.  I booked two weddings on my first show".- Amanda
 "I won the first prize ,so that I appear on TV ,news papar made my company famous".- Azusa

We always help at the WBC events a lot and we stay until the event is done so we learn all the details and setbacks, son when we have a similar event we can prepare ourselves with everything so we avoid all the setbacks could happen and of course  get a better budget and that can happen at the time you are back! Depending how fast you move to sell the event.  - Alex  
"There are many things that I have learned and gained from conventions over the years, but the one MAIN thing is PROFESSIONALISM.  I have had the opportunity to talk to many people in the industry who I look up to and aspire to be like one day.  I have had a chance to see their portfolio and their marketing material and I have taken these ideas and have incorporated them into my own business.  This has made me a more successful looking person and my clients have noticed it right away".  - Robbie

How quickly would you say that it took you recoup your investment?
"learn and practice and sell, sell,sell!!!" - Azusa
              "2-3 months" - Amanda
"It depend from the kind of invest. I can tell you my experience like retailer. You can have a good result after two years". - Alberto

"I think we sold better centerpieces on the next job we booked, so almost immediately upon returning.  Also, you come home with so much energy and enthusiasm, that customers seem to WANT to order more because they are excited too"! - Lisa

"It’s amazing! Sometimes it’s instantly but we always say depends a lot in the effort you invest with your clients selling the new designs you’ve learned. They won’t sell by themselves inside of your camera" ! - Alex

"In minutes...?  I take the photos, we have a play day at the office with my staff, and we get the new designs on the website.  Once they are there it is only a matter of weeks before they are selling.  They sell because they are "brand new!!" - David
"I would say in the same year...I had a different approach to most things when I returned" - Tope
"Good question!!, and such a long time ago. I would probably estimate it took me three months, and of course I have gained ever since!" - Colin
"After my first convention I came home with such an overwhelming sense of ACTION…I wasted no time in implementing the new found vigor that I got from my convention.  I recouped my investment dollar right away in more than just money, I recouped it in how I ran my business, in how I created my designs, in the techniques I was using.  I was using all the time saving tips and new concepts for ideas in my business right away and my portfolio started to expand as was my knowledge in how to create new desings.  I was INSTANTLY recouping my investments in the FIRST DAY"!

Collectively these great instructors have 145 years 'ballooning' experience between them! They all have successful balloon business's and a wealth of knowledge and experience, it is amazing how many of their answers are similar and with some truly wonderful advice... keep all of it in mind and make the most of your experience... you will love EVERY second of it!

I also asked each of these instructors what their top selling and most profitable designs or decor are and of course which Qualatex balloon is their favourite! I will be featuring these in my blog next week!

Maybe you have been to a balloon convention and would like to share your top tips? Why not post them on the World Balloon Convention Facebook page so that everyone can read and benefit from them!

A huge thank you to Robbie, Lisa, Amanda, Tope, Colin, David, Alberto, Azusa, Pepe and Alex for taking the time to talk to me and helping me with this blog, I appreciate that they are all very busy getting ready for The World Balloon Convention or OnArt Spain!

See you soon at WBC!

My very special moment from WBC 2010

1 comment:

Custom Balloons USA said...

Thanks for those tips! Attending a balloons conference do look amazing!

Jack at Custom Balloons USA