Monday, December 31, 2018

It's Time to Say Goodbye to 2018 and Hello to 2019!


On this New Year's Eve, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a superb January, a dazzling February, a peaceful March, an anxiety free April, a sensational May, and Joy that keeps going from June to November, and then round off with a fizz-popping December!





Thank you all for continuing to support the Very Best Balloon Blog, and for all the lovely messages that I received throughout the year - It is very gratifying to know the blog is helpful and inspiring many of you! I am very much looking forward to writing the Very Best Balloon Blog next year, and would welcome any ideas or suggested topics that you would like me to cover - just drop me a message at suebowlercba@gmail.com.

I would also like to say a huge thank you to some of this year's amazing contributors and guest bloggers! They have all very generously given their time to inspire and help others in the balloon industry! To check out some of their posts, just click on their name!



Connie Iden-Monds, CBA, Party Animals in Nashville, Tennesse, USA.
Samuel Stamp-Dod, CBA, VIP Balloons in Ipswich, UK.
Avital and Nir Schechter, CBA's of Baloney Nir in Katzrin, Israel.
Jackie Ochitwa, CBA, of With a Twist Balloon Creations in Alberta, Canada.
Ruti Grodkinsky, CBA, of Designed by Ruti - Balloon Decor Israel.
Luc Bertrand, CBA, of Waw Balloons in Vichte, Belgium.
Jill Shortreed, CBA, of Charleston Balloon Company in Mount Pleasant, SC, USA.
Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia.
Stuart Davies, CBA, of Beyond Balloons in South Wales, U.K.
Michelle Severino, CBA, of Party Splendour in Peakhurst, NSW.
Caity Byrne, CBA of All About balloons in Washington, D.C., USA.
Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons in Melbourne, Australia.
Zoe Adams-Jones, CBA, of Jaz Trading in Queensland, Australia.
Toñy Moncada, CBA of Globofiesta, in Elche, Alicante, Spain.

And of course a huge thank you to Qualatex® who sponsor the blog! 

I believe that we will have a few challenges in 2019, but if we work together we should be able to overcome many of these and grow and prosper for many years to come! 

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and looking forward to seeing you next year! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue















Monday, December 24, 2018

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

Wow, it's Christmas Eve! Where did December go? 



Congratulations and hats off to all of you who have waded through this mammoth month of "Elf on the Shelf" balloons, and those endless hours of planning, designing and creating fabulous party and Christmas event decor! 


Naughty Elves at the Party House, Bridgend, Wales.


To be honest, I did not realise how big the "Elf on the Shelf" craze was until I saw all the posts on Facebook showing many wonderful ready-to-go balloons! One of my favourite posts was from Party House, in Bridgend, Wales showing how naughty their Elves were being dragging a Christmas tree through their party store!


Elf design by Kyrstin De Leeuw





Kyrstin De Leeuw, CBA of The Balloon Store in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, creates her very own super cute Elf on the Shelf!












A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to create some magical Christmas decor for the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) children's Christmas party with a fabulous team of BAPIA (Balloon and Party Industry Alliance) members. The GOSH Christmas parties are for their patients, giving children and their families the chance to spend time together away from the wards – and to focus on having fun!



GOSH 2018 - Children's Christmas Party Entrance Decor with the fabulous team who made it! 

Our challenge was to create something that would survive four very lively parties, and needed to be latex free! I chose to create the entrance decor and designed a "Penguin Castle" using Qualatex
® Starpoints, Tapers and lots of Precious Penguin and Popular Elfin Penguin balloons! A huge thank you to my wonderful team who worked with me, and to Qualatex for sponsoring the balloons.

Only two days later I was back up to London with a fabulous team of balloon professionals to decorate a corporate Christmas party. I have been decorating this party for quite a few years, and each year the party gets bigger! This year we made 140 centrepiece designs, of which 117 were confetti-filled 3' balloons, in addition to entrance decor!
3' centrepiece balloon decor by Sue Bowler, CBA,
working with Ali Welsh Events.





The room looked absolutely stunning with beautiful balloons sparkling above each of the tables! 


3' centrepiece balloon decor by Sue Bowler,
 working with Ali Welsh Events.
And finally, did you all see the wonderful Mele Kalikimaka - Tropical Christmas Decor that was featured on Mr Q's Facebook page? This stunning decor filled the entrance lobby at Pioneer Worldwide. It is so vibrant, and packed with so many fun and exciting details! I really love it!


It's time to take a few days off with my lovely family. So, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler


































Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2018 - Let's Take A Quick Look at our Ballooning Year!



2018 started with what can only be described as a revolutionary new latex balloon - Qualatex® Chrome™ Balloons!

A latex balloon unlike any other with a rich, shiny metallic finish that looks simply stunning! 

Over the past year I have seen some fabulous designs and decor created using Chrome balloons. There are so many to choose from, but here are a few of my favourites!






Natasha Nordin, CBA of the London Balloon Boutique













Natasha Nordin, CBA, of the London Balloon Boutique, London, U.K. used 11" Chrome Gold balloons to create these fabulous balloon covered pillars. I love the precision and metallic ball-bearing effect that this decor creates.






Design by Spark's in Beirut, Lebanon.









I love this "Chrome" design by Sparks, in Beirut, Lebanon. Chrome balloons turn to "glass" when double-stuffed with a Jewel Tone balloon over the top! I re-named this balloon type as a Jewel-Chrome!








Design by Zoe Adam-Jones, Jaz Trading, Queensland, Australia.








Zoe Adam-Jones, CBA, of Jaz Trading in Queensland, Australia recently shared this beautiful organic style Chrome and greenery Christmas tree, which is absolutely stunning! 

On the 24th January we saw the launch of the fabulous new on-line show Q Corner Live! Hosted by the very funny, witty, occasionally a little bit naughty but always sincere, Keith Stirman, CBA, and Dominic Cassidy, CBA. Over the past year, Keith and Dom have presented this interactive "EDU-TAINMENT" show that offers a wide variety of topics including Business and Marketing Tips, New Product Features, Question and Answer Sessions, Industry Interviews and lots more! If you have not already subscribed, click on the link to make sure that you never miss an episode! https://youtube.com/qcornershow and check back on some of their earlier shows too if you missed them the first time round! 


San Diego - World Balloon Convention 2018!


Welcome Decor by Stuart Davies, CBA




From March 14-17, 2018 the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina was filled with nearly 900 ballooning delegates! Attendees travelled from far and wide from 52 different countries to enter competitions, attend many fabulous classes, and participate with building event decor as well as attend the grand events! Words cannot truly describe how fabulous this event is. It's not just a learning experience, it's probably the most energising and exciting ballooning opportunity that you will ever experience! If you don't believe me, just check out this fabulous mini documentary that follows the WBC journey of the Canadian "Twisted Team"!






Final Night Decor by Olga Baranova, CBA, and
Olga Samoilova, CBA.

Design class with Luiz Carlos da Costa Silva, CBA.












The next World Balloon Convention will be held in Orlando, Florida - March 23-25 2021! You have plenty of time to save - try saving a small percentage from each of your 2019 balloon jobs towards the cost, you will be amazed at how quickly your savings will grow! 

Organic balloon decor still remains one of this year's top selling styles of balloon decor!


Organic Balloon and Flower Wall by Sue Bowler CBA

I had the opportunity to create this fabulous balloon and flower wall a few months ago for a corporate client. They loved it - and so did I! Not only was it organic, it featured beautiful shades of pastel coloured balloons which blended really well with the faux flowers. Pastel shades is another growing trend that I am sure that we will see much more of in 2019! 

Trending Balloons

There have been some wonderful trends this year, some new, and others continue to grow from last year! What is your favourite?


Donut
Toucan
Llama
Mermaid
Flamingo
Unicorn




Balloons and the Environment

This became one of the hottest topics in 2018 and something that all ballooning professionals need to be aware of. We have a number of different bodies fighting our corner and when I say fighting I really mean it! In Europe we have the European Balloon and Party Council (EBPC). And in the U.S. we have The Balloon Council (TBC). Both councils are represented by leading balloon and equipment manufacturers, gas companies and many other party related companies! 

Earlier this year, EBPC launched a new website - www.partysafe.eu - you will find a wealth of information related to guidance and product safety.

Many of you will have heard of PEBA - the Pro Environment Balloon Alliance. PEBA is working tirelessly to represent the balloon industry.

I really don't want to gloss by this topic, and will be writing a full up-date blog post in the new year. If you are unsure what EPBC, PEBA and The Balloon Council are doing to help support the balloon industry, I recommend that you check out each of their websites - I have added links to make it easy for you to find them.

And finally...

Images Magazine and Balloon Magic are going digital!

From the new year, both Images Magazine and Balloon Magic will be available online and will be free!

Here are a few facts!


  • The last print issue of Balloon Images is October/November/December 2018.
  • The last print issue of Balloon Magic is issue #93, which will be mailed in December 2018.
  • Starting in 2019, both publications will be hosted on qualatex.com.
  • All content will be free, but there will be exclusive content for QBN members in the Balloon Images issues.
  • The issues will feature valuable content for today’s digital age including:  video tutorials, downloadable marketing materials, links to helpful content on other sites, and much more!
  • Both publications will be translated to languages currently supported on qualatex.com.
  • People living outside of the United States will no longer have to wait weeks or months to receive their issues because it will now be delivered to your email inbox.
  • Be sure to join the Qualatex email list  and subscribe to the individual publication lists to receive an email as soon as the issues go live.
  • Qualatex will still produce a print publication that will be released annually.  The first, to be called The Very Best of 2018, is planned to be available for purchase  January 2019 for approximately $12 USD +shipping.


This is just a small collection of 2018 moments, I am sure that I have missed many! I am very excited to see what 2019 brings us! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

And the Colour Of The Year is...... Living Coral!

"Love" Balloon Wall by Sue Bowler - www.suebowler.com

"Pantone’s 2019 Colour of the Year is a peachy orange with a golden undertone. 'Living Coral' is set to inspire optimism, energy and social connection".

We often ask what influences a trend, and when it comes to colour there is no doubt that Pantone plays a huge part.


Since 2000, Pantone has selected a colour of the year. To determine what that colour will be Pantone combs the globe looking for colour influences. They look to the pop culture, film, popular travel destinations, socio-economic conditions, organic elements, art, fashion, and much more. The Colour of the Year has a great deal of influence on products and purchasing decisions made that year in a variety of industries from fashion, industrial design, product packaging, graphic design, and home goods.



So how does this have impact on us in the balloon industry? Our industry is very much influenced by fashion, especially when it comes to weddings, as they impact the choices for bridesmaid dresses, flowers and decor! 

Organic Balloon Decor by Sue Bowler www.suebowler.com
Organic Decor by Sue Bowler, CBA.
Coral, Rose Gold, White, Blush and Chrome Gold.









The Qualatex
® Coral latex balloon is a perfect match to the new Living Coral and coordinates perfectly with Rose Gold and Pearl Peach! 

Coral - Rose Gold - Pearl Peach


Here are a few designs that I have made using Coral as one of the feature colours.


Balloon Decor by Sue Bowler CBA www.suebowler.com
Coral with Rose Gold, White and Chrome Gold.

Balloon Decor by Sue Bowler CBA
Coral with Rose and Pearl Ivory. 


Balloon and Flower Centrepiece by Sue Bowler CBA
Coral with Rose Gold, Blush and a hint of Chrome Gold.
I think that we will all enjoy working with this fabulous colour and we will see it in much of our decor in 2019!
Happy Ballooning!

Sue


www.suebowler.com
#suebowler



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Much Would You Charge For This Design?

Many businesses struggle when it come to pricing, and not just in the balloon industry! 
The fear of pricing too high and not getting any business versus pricing too low and never making a profit is an everyday dilemma.






In the interest of today's blog, I asked a few of my ballooning friends from around the world to tell me how much they would charge for this style of air-filled design in their country. I chose this design as it uses very few balloons and it's quick and easy to make.


Before we start, write down how much you would charge for this design and see how your price compares to others.




So how do we know how much to charge? Some of us will "guesstimate," while others will actually work out how much they need to charge to make a profit!




Whenever I am pricing a design, I always start by completing a QBN Job Cost Form (shown above). It really helps to make sure that you have covered all your costs and make a profit, too! 

For my example, I am using the prices that are listed in the 2018 Qualatex European Everyday Catalogue. All the prices in my example are in UK £., and I have included V.A.T.


The weight that we use in a design like this can vary in type and cost. Some will choose to use a purpose-made weight, whilst others might use a sand or water weight - this will have an impact on the selling price.

For my example, I have calculated that I would need to sell the design at £11.24 to cover my costs and to make a good profit. 

Here are the suggested selling prices for the same style of design from some of my ballooning friends from around the world:

  • Belgium €12.95 - £11.54 - USD $14.76
  • Australia AUD $19.00 -  £10.98 - USD $14.03
  • USA USD $15.00 - £11.77 
  • UK £9.99 - USD $12.79
  • USA UDS $12.00 - £9.42
  • Hungary HUF 2190 - £6.05 - USD $7.74

I am really pleasantly surprised at the price range. With the exception of Hungary, there is not a huge price different between these countries. But it does not surprise me that Hungary's price is much lower. If you look at how much people earn around the world, there is a huge difference in the minimum wages. For example between Belgium and Hungary, wages in Belgium are more than three times greater than in Hungary (comparing 2018 minimum wages) and therefore the labour costs in each of these countries will reflect this difference. 

2018 Minimum Wages - this is a helpful guide to compare wages around the world.

Belgium - €1562.60 per month
UK - £1462.60 per month
Hungary - €444.10 per month
USA - USD $7.25 per hour - USD $275.50 per week
Australia AUD $694.90 per week



The job cost form is a good guide to help you with pricing, but make sure that the information that you input is accurate, otherwise it can alter your pricing significantly! You also need to consider perceived value, too. Often designs can look like they are worth more than the Job Cost Form suggests, and there is no reason why you cannot charge the perceived price rather than the job cost price - this is very common in creative-based industries.

I have written a few blogs on this subject:




And finally, don't forget we can up- sell and offer personalisation! This is a great way to add value to any design! Below is an example of how Luc Bertrand, CBA, of WaW Balloons in Vichte, Belgium, promotes them.




Here is another way to up-sell this style of design. By simply adding arms, we have created a more interactive design! Finally, the third version is a mini table-top sculpture - all very quick and easy to make!



Thank you to all those who helped me with this blog. For those of you who struggle with pricing, have a go at using the Job Cost Form to help you to work out your minimum selling price to ensure that you make a profit. Making a profit will keep you and your business healthy and happy!

Happy ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Care Cards - A Great Way To Let Your Customers Know How To Care Of Their Balloons



Giving your customers information on how to care for their balloons can truly help, especially if something goes wrong! I often see posts on Facebook where someone asks for advice on how to deal with a customer who has complained about a bad balloon experience. Maybe some of those situations could be avoided if we supply our clients with a "Care Card" or a "Balloon Fact Sheet" at the time of purchase or when we are installing balloons for a client.

There are many things that we can include on our "Care Cards" or a "Enjoy your Balloons" fact sheet. I would recommend that you choose those that are most relevant to the types of balloons, and or decor that you are supplying.

1. Balloons and Temperature: Please don't leave balloons in a hot car - helium expands in the heat and this could cause your balloons to pop! We recommend that you use air conditioning in your vehicle when transporting balloons on a hot day. If your balloons get rained on and start to droop, don't worry – they'll float again when dry. When helium-filled balloons are taken into the cold, they will temporarily deflate and will re-inflate again when warm.

2. Balloons - Child and Pet Precautions: Balloons are not a toy. Uninflated or burst balloons can present a choking hazard and should never be left with children under the age of eight without supervision. Store balloons away from pets to ensure that they cannot get themselves tangled with balloon ribbons or accidentally ingest popped balloons or their decorative contents such as confetti, feathers, or other materials. If a balloon pops, clear away any broken balloons and it's decorative contents (if applicable) immediately.

3. Balloons and the Environment: At the end of a balloon's life, cut the end of the balloon with scissors to remove any air or balloon gas, then dispose of it in the bin. NEVER release balloons into the environment. ALL released balloons become litter. They can get caught up in trees or power lines. Remember - Don't Let Go & Pin It and Bin It 😊

4. Balloons and Allergies: Most balloons are made of natural rubber latex and may cause allergies. Please look out for symptoms in case of allergies and seek immediate help.

5. Inhalation of helium: Inhaling helium can be dangerous and it is not recommended. It can deprive your body of oxygen and can result in a fatality.

6. Balloons and Ceilings: Lights, paint textures, irregular surfaces and even static can all pop balloons. If you are planning on placing your balloons on a ceiling, ensure that you test it first.

7. Latex balloons and Oxidization: Clear balloons become cloudy quickly when exposed to heat and sunshine. Coloured balloons will take on a velvety, matte appearance.

8. Balloons can Pop: While we use the highest quality balloons and take every precaution necessary with your balloons to ensure they last through your event, once the balloons leave our door or we have left the venue, they are out of our control.


You can certainly go into much greater detail if you plan to publish this information on your website. You could cover more information regarding balloons, different weather conditions, the environment and how to dispose of balloon weights - especially if they are filled with water or sand!

Finally, I just wanted to make you aware of a great website called Party Safe. This is a dedicated party website for consumers, the education sector, retailers, artists, and decorators and is packed with so much great information!

About Party Safe: Partysafe is managed and run by the European Balloon & Party Council (EBPC).
"We provide small products with a big impact that creates memories for life. With over 35 key manufacturers and distributors across Europe, our products span the globe.

This site is dedicated to children, parents, consumers, NGO's and industry providers. Basically - everyone who has ever been involved in parties. It provides an overview for some of our products as well as an education network for schools. If you wish to discover the meanings of some of our warnings, instructions, and labels - please take a deeper look through our site.

The EBPC has members who are technical experts in all aspects of their manufacturing and safety. As well as working within their main roles, some of them also contribute towards improvement of the EN71 - Safety of Toys, the safety standards for toys in Europe. This work, of course, aligns closely with the Toy Safety Directive.

If you would like any more information about the European Balloon & Party Council, please head over to our website at www.ebpcouncil.eu, take a look at our premier league member base and feel free to get in touch.

When it comes to party product information - we're the experts. Rest assured you're in the right hands."

I have really enjoyed working on this blog post. It has made me think about many different situations that can have an impact on balloons and balloon decor. While I have tried to highlight some of the "bigger" issues, I have certainly not covered everything in this post. If you have any suggestions that I can add, please let me know. 


Happy and safe ballooning!

Sue
#suebowler








Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Power of Videos on Instagram to Enhance Your Marketing Campaigns

Sharing videos on Instagram is one of the best ways to gain new followers. I have been doing a little research to help you to get started, and it's easier than you think!

Firstly, decide what is the purpose of the video? 


I have been very guilty of posting short video clips on my Instagram account without considering what message I am trying to convey.


Most viewers are watching on a laptop or on a mobile phone, and in most cases with the sound off. Therefore, it is important to add text or captions to ensure that your message reaches your audience. I know that I am more likely to watch a video with text than without!

Almost every video that I have posted to Instagram to date has been without sound or text, so other than showing my audience what I've just made, who is the target of my posts?


I have two main aims:



  • To inspire the ballooning community
  • To promote my balloon decor 


Here's a video that I created using a free app called Apple Clips

"Clips is a mobile video editing software application created by Apple Inc. Apple describes it as an app for 'making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more.' Wikipedia








By simply adding a little text, you are telling your viewers what your decor can do for them, - remember, we sell the emotion that our balloons create and not just balloons! 


I uploaded my edited video to YouTube for the purpose of this blog. It looks better when published to Instagram or Facebook as it keeps its square shape. Square videos are a big hit on social media, and Instagram is no exception. Since it was originally a square-only platform, users gravitate toward a square format on Instagram. 





Make sure that you capture your viewers' attention immediately. Keep your videos short! Your videos should be bright and have movement. 



Another app that I like to use occasionally is KiraKira+. With this app, you can add effects like a cross filter to attach to the camera lens. Light-emitting materials and reflective objects will shine even more, especially decor with metallic confetti!


Be careful with this app as it can make your balloons look beautifully sparkly, and your customers might want you to supply that effect!







You might want to add a note to your posts saying "Sparkles, powered by KiraKira+" or something like that to let people know that it's an effect created through an app, but of course, with the right lighting your balloons can sparkle, so maybe you can sell that effect, too!

Here is a very short video clip that I made using KiraKira+.  I was preparing confetti balloons for a job that I was doing and decided that it might make a great video! It is one of my most viewed posts on Instagram, and it helped to boost my followers considerably! I might repost it in the future, but next time I will definitely add text using the Clips app! 



I hope like me that you are enjoying growing your social media presence and followers. I am really enjoying experimenting and learning more. I hope that some of this information is helpful to you. Please let me know, I would love to get some feedback!

Happy Ballooning!

Sue