Friday, February 27, 2015

Part 1. Sport is officially everywhere giving balloon professionals some great decor opportunities!

As a nation we are surrounded by sport, sport related activities, sporting events and global sporting occasions. 

I asked industry professional's David Taylor and David Saker to share their personal experiences working on large sporting events. 

David Taylor - Mad Balloons, Sydney, Australia.
What could be more impressive than a 17m Arch greeting supporters as they arrive at the sports stadium!

Our first big arch was for the season opener on 15 Feb. We also did one for the A-League (soccer/football) Grand Final.  It was ordered by FFA and they wanted both teams colours in it.  

If any of the blog readers can get in touch with the World Cup organisers and present this idea to them, there is some serious dollars to be made.  Having both teams colours as team fans approach the ground is a huge plus.  
Make sure you build your arches tough though because if the wind gets up, you will want to hang onto your hats.  I have been making this type of arch for three years now and have only had one blown to pieces on an extremely windy day in September 2013. 
I use Qualatex 16” helium filled balloons in the centre, as I want maximum lift for the duration of the event.  I usually have to leave 90 minutes before gates open. Then the game starts 3 hours later – more if there is a supporters promotion on.  By the time I return to collect the arch it is usually 5+ hours since installation, and the elements can have a big impact of the ability of the arch to support itself.
My arches are 17 metres in length and just between me and you, so they are a great earner.  
Anyway,  I hope that the images and the info helps you.  Go Wallabies!!

A Little about David Taylor.

David has been successfully operating MAD Balloons in Sydney, Australia for more than 20 years, and has built the reputation as one of Sydney's best corporate balloon decor providers. With his innovative designs and a host of loyal clients, David's enthusiasm and passion for balloons has grown and maintained his company success. 

Coming soon! Part 2 of this Sporting Events blog features David Saker's experience working on the World Badminton finals and race start arches.

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, February 23, 2015

A short overview of this year's Spring Fair & Nuremberg Toy Fair 2015

Stand Decor by Fiona & Rodney Fisher
The NEC Birmingham, England has been the host of Spring Fair since 1976. Spring Fair is Europe's leading presentation of gift and home products and the largest trade exhibition in the UK. From 1st February to 5th February 2015, Qualatex proudly wowed customers with fantastic displays of balloons and decor along with with their fantastic range of balloons and accessories, and introduced many new and exciting products for 2015. 

Qualatex have been exhibiting at Spring Fair for 20 years and I have been part of the Qualatex Spring Fair team for quite a few of those years. It is truly a team effort that makes the stand look so impressive, which we know is very important for visiting guests and prospective customers.

This years stand decor was designed and created by Fiona & Rodney Fisher with the help from the Pioneer Europe team! The colours and design were awesome, impressive giant flowers and garlands using Caribbean Blue, Wild Berry with a hint of 'Fashion' Rainbow Super Agates was simply stunning and stood out from all the other trade stands!

Here's what one of our customers said:
"The stand was beautiful. It was vibrant , colourful , fresh and created alot of ideas to work with in our own business . The spongebob display was a great idea for childrens parties , the pink champagne bottle is a perfect product to add to the hen section or just a girls night out or party , I think it will be a great success . '"- Sonya from Partyworld, Ireland
The great thing about attending a show like this is that there is so much on offer. Not only can you visit your favourite suppliers and find new ones, you get to see firsthand all the great new products that will be available during the year. 

There are great demonstrations and seminars including The Stage where Keith Stirman, Dominic Cassidy and myself presented a range of designs using some of the fantastic new Qualatex balloons, including the beautiful new Wedding Butterfly that adorned both stands! 

After I had finished my stint working at the eduction centre on the Qualatex stand, I took the opportunity to walk around a few of the other exhibition halls. I always like to see what's exciting and new in other markets, especially if I feel that it might be the next big thing that can be used with balloons. You also get the opportunity to see the latest trends too! I discovered some other great seminars going on and was lucky enough to sit in on an e-commerce seminar 'Secrets for e-commerce success', which I found really informative and picked up some really great tips. I think that next year I will try and plan to attend a variety of the seminars especially some of the more creative one's such as display techniques and creative gift wrapping which I feel would be very beneficial in our industry.

Every year Spring Fair and the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany run almost at the same time giving International customers the opportunity to attend both shows - which many do! Once again, the Qualatex stand was beautifully decorated with very elegant and eye-catching decor created by Luc Bertand with a little help from the Pioneer Europe export team.
Stand Decor by Luc Bertrand

Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair N├╝rnberg, Germany is the largest international trade fair for toys and games held annually since 1949. Only trade visitors associated with the toy business, journalists and invited guests are admitted.

Here is a short presentation of photographs from both the Spring Fair and International Toy Fair.

Michelle Commerford, Head of Sales and Marketing at Pioneer Europe shared her thoughts on this year's shows.
"Nuremberg Toy Fair and Spring Fair International have been exceptionally good for us this year. The 2015 Qualatex Everyday Catalogue (European Version) is 40 pages heavier and all the new products have received great feedback from our customers. It was nice to catch up with old friends and see how their business is doing, as well as meeting new customers and help them start in the balloon business." 
To download a copy of the latest European Qualatex  2015 Everyday Catalogue CLICK HERE

Both Spring Fair and the International Toy Fair are trade shows that are exclusive to trade customers only. To attend either of these shows you need to pre-register, so why not register today for 2016!

Happy Ballooning!

Sue Bowler

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

'Great opportunities come to those who make the most of small ones.'

You might be wondering why I started this blog with a quotation? So here's a question for you. How many of you look at Balloon Images magazine or balloon related Facebook Groups and see pictures of large scale decor, maybe balloons at big sporting events and think that you could never do anything like that?
So what's stopping you? 
  • Confidence
  • Experience 
  • Contacts

When you start out in any profession the learning curve is huge and balloon artistry is no different. We need to understand the basic techniques and master them, we also need the opportunity to grow our skills through practice and finally we need to grow our portfolio so that we can 'wow' our customers with our work! 

So let's look at a market that you may not have considered and opportunities that can help you to tick these boxes and overcome some of those barriers.

Sport is everywhere! From games and tournaments to post season parties and award banquets and not forgetting theme parties and Bar Mitzvah's. Sport offers us so many fantastic ballooning opportunities, now we need to find ways to capitalise on these opportunities and creating winning decor!

So how do we start?
  • Find Inspiration, for some of us finding our inspiration is easier than others, Qualatex offers many opportunities to help us;
    • Balloon Images magazine.
    • Balloon Ideas.

    • Qualatex Business BoostersAdditional marketing resources are also published online in the Qualatex Business Boosters. Plus, QBN Members can access special bonus features on the members-only page of each Business Booster (including instructions for select designs from "Balloon Images"). Check out all of the Business Boosters on the Qualatex Home Page.

  • Create a range of sport theme displays and if you have a store or shop, feature them in your window, especially during relevant sporting activities.
Here are some great sport theme centrepiece designs by Brenda Hatch CBA of Balloon Happy, Arizona, USA.

Centrepiece designs by Brenda Hatch CBA of Balloon Happy, Arizona, USA

 'These fun balloon centerpieces were created for the Chandler’s Special Olympics and Therapeutic Sports Program Annual Sports Banquet. Throughout the year, individuals participate in sports such as golf, bowling, softball, football, swimming, track & field, cheer, and basketball.'

Basketball centrepiece design by Brenda Hatch CBA
  • Remember that your website is also your 'store front', a good website with good pictures and links will help you to promote you and your business.
When doing research for this blog post I used search engine to help me find companies that offer 'Balloons for Sporting Events', do you have any related links on your website that would help bring searching customers directly to you? 
  • Do you have theme boards on Pinterest? 
If you are new to Pinterest there is a world of inspiration out there! It's a very easy site to work with, simply visit and like a search engine just type in relevant key words, I used BALLOONS SPORT THEMES. More importantly start your own boards, these will also help customers to find you. Check out the Qualatex Pinterest boards, Qualatex has 29 different theme boards filled with great design ideas that you can re-pin onto your own boards!

Here is a link to a blog that I wrote about Pinterest. 'Do you Pin, are you a Pinner, is Pinterest good for business?
  • Take good pictures; it is very important that you inspire your customers by showing them what you can offer and a good portfolio is the perfect sales tool!

  • Look for opportunities; 
    • Find out from your local department of parks and recreation when and where local sports events will be held. Ask the person in charge of the event if they would like a free arch or some columns. This will give you the opportunity to get as new picture for your portfolio that you can use to promote this type of work on your website!
    • Visit youth organisation websites and search for games and tournaments that will be held in your area.
    • Advertise your business in school newsletters. Remind parents that you can create sport themed decor for parties or create sport theme deliveries to celebrate their kids' athletic accomplishments.
    • Build relationships with schools to provide decor for their games, dances and other events.
    • Create a flier that you can use to promote sport balloons and decor to Sports Bars, Pubs and clubs!
    • React to big sporting events! Last year we had many weeks of FIFA World Cup and this year is the turn of the Rugby World Cup along with other high profile sporting events. Take the opportunity to create displays that will attract sports fans maybe a column or an arch that really stands out, you never know what this might lead to?

You might not start out decorating big sporting events, but you can certainly create some fantastic opportunities for your business and as I said at the start of this blog "Great opportunities come to those who make the most of small ones."

Coming soon!
To continue on the theme of decor at sporting events, I have two great new blog posts coming soon featuring David Taylor - Mad Balloons, Sydney, Australia  & David Saker who both share their experiences working at large sporting events!

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Pieter van Engen shares his journey from musician to balloon artist!

International award-winning balloon artist Pieter van Engen CBA is quickly making a name for himself and his unique style of twisting. His work is seen in magazines, instructional DVDs, training courses and performances all over Europe, from the streets of Amsterdam to National television.

I have had the pleasure of working with Pieter on a few occasions, at the Slovenia Event 2013 and more recently at Balloonland Israel.

Pieter van Engen
Red Motorbike by Pieter Van Engen

It is very evident when you meet Pieter that he is truly passionate about balloons and the 'art' that he creates with them. He declares himself to be a 'latex purest', using only latex for all the balloon connections, no glue or frames!

Pirate Ship by Pieter van Engen

When talking to Pieter he shared his passion for 'creating' and how he can spend many hours working on one of his amazing and very impressive balloon sculptures.

In order to preserve the advanced balloon sculptures that he creates, Pieter developed his skills as a photographer and in 2013 he produced a beautiful photo book 'Balloon Art', that shows a selection of Pieter's best Balloon Art photographs.

Meet Pieter in this short interview where he explains how he 'found' balloons, his journey and aspirations for the future.

Here are a few more of Pieter's inspiring designs and links to events and publications that he mentions during the interview.

'Marvin Hardy' by Pieter van Engen

Rabbit on a Skateboard by Pieter van Engen

Seahorse by Pieter van Engen

Stork Julius by Pieter van Engen
Balloon Magic - The Magazine Click here to subscribe

Millennium Jam  - 9 - 12 November Mol, Belgium 

After a four-year hiatus, Millennium Jam is back! 

The event returns to the Sunparcs resort this year with four days of workshops, parties, competitions and other fun activities.   The theme of the event will be 'It's A Circus' and its sure to be a week to remember!  Balloon entertainers and decorators alike will learn new skills to grow their businesses. 

Visit for more information.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Pieter for sharing his story with The Very Best Balloon Blog and if you get the opportunity to attend one of his classes I would strongly recommend it!

Happy Ballooning!