Tuesday, June 28, 2016

1st Birthday Celebrations the Bigger Picture Part 2

In the first part of this blog, 1st Birthday Celebrations Part 1, we looked at how different cultures celebrate a baby's first birthday and some wonderful design ideas suitable for this occasion. In part 2, we will explore 1st birthdays a little further.

In Images magazine April/May/June 2007, there was the fantastic article, Big Fun with First Birthdays.” This feature talks about the Korean tradition known a ‟dol.” Dol is Korean term used for baby's first birthday. In the distant past, a baby's chance for survival was very low. So when a child reached the age of one, it was considered an important milestone for the baby and parents. The whole village used to celebrate a baby's first birthday, sharing food and wishing for long life and fortune for the baby.
The Korean dol has since become less ceremonious and more about keeping the tradition itself alive.

Dol made its American debut in Southern California, home to the largest concentration of people of Korean descent outside of the Korean peninsula.

Hayeon Kim, CBA, owner of Kiki Events and partner company Color Tree Events, in Irvine, California, U.S.A. specialises in dol-style 1st birthday parties.

‟I often decorate for a girl’s dol using a princess theme, and for the boy’s, I use animal and jungle themes.”

Because the guest list for these parties can number anywhere from 50 to 150, and in some cases even more. “Providing quality work for your customer is the best form of marketing for this type of business,” said Hayeon. “Guests see your work, and they want the same for their babies, so make sure to provide your client with several of your business cards because party guests will ask for them.”
The focal point of a dol often includes a long table draped with cloth and flanked by two balloon Columns. Sometimes an Arch stands behind the table, or some simple balloon designs are rigged to the wall to create a backdrop. 

The space in front of the table is often decorated with more balloon work and so is the table top, if space permits. It is important to remember that because balloons are recommended for children ages 8 and up, you should always remind your client of their responsibility to watch small children and make sure that they don’t get their hands on an uninflated balloon or a scrap.

Lily Tan, CBA, of My Airtitude in Singapore, shows us how we can transform a room with beautiful balloon decor.  Lily has filled this room with lots of beautiful designs that when placed together creates this fantastic 1st birthday scene.

Derek Wong, CBA, of Twisted Inflations in Ontario, Canda, created this beautiful number one sculpture.
This sculpture was made for a little Asian girl who turned one, and the parents picked the elephants because their daughter loves elephants. The three elephants representing their family – a father, mother and a little girl elephant at the top. According to the parent who placed the order, they wanted to have a special memory that will last forever for their first daughter on her first birthday, and they think my balloon creations are very special and creative so they asked me to make them this.”

I feel very fortunate being the author of this wonderful industry blog. I have the opportunity to meet through the magnificent "interweb," fabulous and very generous balloon artists who are very happy and willing to share their knowledge, passion, and expertise. I am forever thankful and grateful. I would like to thank Hayeon, Lily, and Derek for their invaluable contributions.

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

1st Birthday Celebrations Part 1

I cannot believe that it is my adorable baby granddaughter's first birthday! A baby's first birthday is a real milestone and a great opportunity to create some wonderful memories.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Hardy Photography

There are some very interesting birthday traditions in a number of countries, and having a lavish affair for a baby's first birthday is becoming more popular, which many liken to a mini wedding!

A baby ‟cake smash” is a more recent trend that began in the U.S. and is trending in the U.K.  Families will give the birthday child a small cake of their own to literally smash their way through it! I think that this wonderful photograph by Sarah Hardy says it all!

30" Tickled Tiger #16189

In China, it is believed that tigers protect children. On a child's first birthday, family members and relatives usually bring many tiger-themed gifts.The parents will also place their child in the centre of many symbolic objects, such as coins, a calculator, dolls, and other trinkets that encircle the baby. It is believed that the first gift the child chooses represents their future career path.

© 2016 Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd ® cbg.co.uk

Singing is an integral part of the traditional Mexican first birthday celebration ritual in which the family sings songs wishing the baby great blessings in life. Parents will also hang a piñata over the baby that is filled with sweet treats such as candy, cookies, and cakes. When the piñata is cracked open, the baby is showered in sweets! 

Japan is very well known for strongly preserving its unique cultural traditions.
Traditionally, Japanese culture did not celebrate birthdays. Japanese people thought everyone became older on New Year’s Day rather than the day of their birth, which is part of the reason why New Year’s is such a big holiday in Japan. 
In fact, it wasn’t until around 1950 that Japan began to celebrate birthdays in the Western sense. While birthday cakes are present in most celebrations today, many Japanese parents prefer rice cakes commonly known mochi.”

There are many wonderful opportunities for us to offer the perfect decor for this very precious occasion.

There are so many great Qualatex® balloons to choose from. I love the Number One Microfoil® balloons, including the Pink Hearts and Blue Stars. There are so many fantastic designs that we can create with them!

Anne McGovern, CBA, of Elegant Balloon in New York, U.S.A. created this super design using the 38" ‟Sapphire Blue Number One” Microfoil balloon on a pedestal made from a Pale Blue 646Q balloon with the fabulous 11" ‟Big Stars” in Dark Blue and Pale Blue. And as a finishing touch, she added a few 4" Sapphire Blue Microfoil stars!

U.S. Patent No. 6,782,675 No. 6,758,71

What could be more perfect than this very pretty 1st Birthday column design made from a base of 11" ‟1st Baby Circles Hearts — Girl” and 5" White balloons topped with the 38" ‟Number One Pink Hearts” Microfoil balloon and 22" ‟Disney Minnie Mouse 1st Birthday” Bubble Balloon?

I love these personalised columns by Debbie O'Neil, CBA, of Wow Balloons in South Benfleet, U.K. They really show how we can add even more value to these wonderful designs.

U.S. Patent No. 7,121,915

Jacqui Young, CBA, of Classic Touch Balloons in Wishaw, Scotland, shows us her beautiful centrepiece design using the wonderful braid technique as demonstrated by Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons in Victoria, Australia.

To find out how to create this wonderful braid just watch the video below!

Check out the great Design Inspiration article, ‟Catch Baby Fever,” by Tina Giunta in Images magazine April/May/June 2016.

I really like this 1st Birthday balloon bouquet with the 22" ‟Disney Mickey Mouse 1st Birthday” Bubble Balloons, and the 11" ‟Birthday Circle Stars—Boy.”

What I really love about this Bubble Balloon is that there are so many different Qualatex balloons that we can coordinate with it! Look at the detail on the balloon; you will see stars, polka dots, and much more. A great way to get our creativity flowing!

Here are a few more lovely 1st Birthday bouquet design ideas using coordinating Qualatex balloons.

In Part 2 of this blog, we will look at children's birthday party decor on a grand scale.

Happy Ballooning!


Please note that not all of these balloons are available in all territories. Please check with your local Qualatex distributor.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Can an unhappy customer be your key to success?

Guest blogger Jill Shortreed, CBA, of Charleston Balloon Company in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A. has a wealth of business experience. She enjoys  studying business books and engaging in online education seminars and classes to keep up-to-date. Jill has recently set up a new Facebook group called The Business of Balloons. This group is aimed at those who own and operate a business that sells balloon decor, retail balloons, balloon deliveries, or entertaining with balloons.

Jill shares her experience with us and explains how an unhappy customer can be your key to success.

‟All complaints have a similar theme – something that was supposed to happen did not. Something didn’t work(i.e., a balloon drop or a special effect.) You didn’t deliver on schedule, were late to set up, or missed a delivery. Your client’s expectations were not met; your client thought they were getting X, but you delivered Y.
By the time a customer is ready to contact you, they are upset and emotional. 

So how do you turn this around?
  • Make your client feel heard, – Let the client vent; they deserve it. While it is only natural to get defensive, truly listen to their complaint and pick-up on nuggets of information that you can use to make them a loyal customer. 

  • Do everything you can to delight your client. - Sometimes you cannot undo a problem, but there are ways you can find to make it up to your client. If you go slightly above what your unhappy client is expecting as a resolution, then it can go a long way into making them a repeat customer who will refer new business to you.

  • Protect your Brand from negative mentions. - Before smart phones and social media, if a client had a complaint they called you or wrote you a letter. Now, it is easy for an unhappy client to damage your brand in a matter of seconds. So how do you handle this? Unresolved and ignored complaints tend to escalate. Respond promptly online and continue to update the situation so potential clients know that you care. This will go a long way and if the client leaves you negative feedback, you can try to balance it with a positive solution. Do not engage in an online argument with your client. This will just escalate and end badly for you with negative publicity.

  • Build and maintain a positive reputation. – So what happens when your unhappy client is transformed into a satisfied one, or better yet, a thrilled one? They become more loyal than your best satisfied customer. Why? Because your satisfied customer received what they were supposed to receive from you. Your unhappy customer was hoping for a resolution that probably was not going to happen, and you delivered beyond what they were expecting. So you know that they will do? Tell everyone about their unbelievable story! There is nothing like unsolicited positive mentions to improve your brand – to me that is a win! 

  • Welcome complaints as a way of improving your business. - If an unhappy client tells you about a problem, how many more have possibly experienced the same issue but haven’t said anything to you? When you incorporate complaints from your clients as a way of improving your business, you show your clients you care and help your business avoid the same issues in the future. Most clients will accept a human hiccup or occasional error; how you respond is what will distinguish you from your competitors.
So next time you have an unhappy customer, sincerely thank them for bringing this to your attention and take the appropriate action to turn this into a positive way to build your business.”
Jill Shortreed, CBA – Charleston Balloon Company 

A huge thank you to Jill for sharing her experience with the Very Best Balloon Blog! If you have not already found her group “The Business of Balloons,” I strongly recommend it, as it is a wealth of information and business support! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue Bowler

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Maximise Your Sales for Father's Day!

Father's Day is right around the corner, giving us a great opportunity to promote and sell balloons and balloon related gifts for this special day!

Our target market is wives, mums, and children, and let's face it, choosing the right gift isn’t easy. Dads can be tricky to buy for. So what can you do to help them out, and make their choices easy, and the day special for fathers everywhere?

If you own a shop or store, create a fun and exciting window display that appeals to adults and children alike. Your window display is your silent salesperson who constantly promotes and creates many sales opportunities! Display what you want to sell; have a set number of predetermined design ideas that appeal to all budgets, remember, it might be a child spending their pocket money to buy a Father's Day gift.

Much like Valentine's and Mother's Day, many people leave buying their cards and gifts to the very last minute, so why not start a "Countdown to Father's Day" campaign? Use your social media channels and website to remind people that they only have X number of days to place their order. How about offering customers an incentive to pre-order their balloon bouquet or balloon gift design?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Learn How to Create Precision Bubbles to Add Value to Your Designs.

Adding small extra details to a design can really increase its value, but the cost to you can be minimal. One of my favourite accent details is to use a chain of precision bubbles, usually made from a 160Q or a 260Q, depending on the design. In this Mother's Day design, I used a chain of bubbles to accentuate the Microfoil® balloon.