Extra, Extra, read all about it! This is the BHQ monthly (sort of) posting with updates, pointers, current discussions, industry announcements, and generally anything that looks useful to share with the balloon industry.
It's newsletter time again. Our big news this month is the conclusion of the voting in our Autumn Wedding Centerpiece Contest. We are excited to be able to announce the winner of the largest prize give-a-way in Balloon HQ history!
In other big news... This is the sixth newsletter we've put together this year. I want to explain why it might be the last.
Next to answering questions and supporting users, the newsletter is the most time consuming thing we do. In early July I posted an email (http://www.balloonhq.com/twistmail/upto12Jul1999/archive.9870.html) asking for specific feedback to determine whether or not we are making good use of our time in sending out a Balloon HQ newsletter. I asked whether anyone used the newsletter, whether the length and content of the newsletter was appropriate, and if there was anything you'd like us to address in it that we haven't.
Sadly, I could count the number of replies I got on one hand... and still have fingers left over. When a readership of well over a thousand balloon artists makes such an underwhelming response to my questions while, in the same month, considers starting a petition to show support for keeping the True Inflations newsletter in print, they are are trying to tell you something.
I thought the BHQ newsletter would be a valuable addition to Balloon HQ, but I'm finding that month after month there is never any discussion of the newsletter contents, even when questions are posed in the articles to stimulate discussion. I can only assume one thing from all this.
Balloon HQ is run by a small group of overworked people willing to give up their evenings and weekends. We need to be efficient with our most limited resource; time. We need to concentrate on the in-progress revamps of the popular areas of our site. Writing the newsletter sucks up a huge amount of our time each month... time that would otherwise be spent maintaining and improving the site. We just can't afford to spend time on things that most readers don't care about or use.
We've been hearing for years that a newsletter like this would be a good idea. It's possible that we're going about it the wrong way and providing too much or too little information on the various things mentioned. We're more than happy to change if we know what needs to be done. If you would like for us to continue putting out this newsletter, please let me know. If you have suggestions for improvement, send them in. If I don't get responses, you won't be receiving this in your mailboxes any more.
The latest article in this series will always be available at http://www.balloonhq.com/bhqnews.
This issue of Balloon HQ News contains the following topics:
Balloonathon with Fun 101
Troupe Tag-a-long W.C.A. alley #302 is hosting a full day balloon twisting event, consisting of lectures, contests, and jamming on Sept 25, 1999 in Bedford Hts, OH. Get more information from http://www.fun101.com. This group is also planning mini jams in the cleveland area all the time and they usually meet every 2 weeks or so at ant local restaurant and jam out for the evening. Anyone interrested can contact us at either P. O Box 5242 Willowick, Oh. 44095 or call 440- 944-2944 co 440- 585-1885 or 440- 944-0278.
Don Dixon speaks
The Melbourne QBN Chapter has invited Don Dixon CBA to visit their lovely city and attend their meeting as the special guest speaker on October 4th. I will be addressing members and guests with a report on the "Asia Pacific Balloon Symposium" (Bali Sept 27th-Oct 1st) , and what's happening with balloon cousins in Auckland and Sydney leading into New Years Eve and the Sydney Olympics. For details contact Edelgard O'Kelly CBA on (03) 95580723.
Fantasy Event Productions presents CRUISING AND BALLOONING:
October 18th - 23rd, 1999
The 1st Annual Balloon Seminar at Sea! Travel from Miami, Fla to Grand Cayman, Calica and Cancun aboard the Carnival "Fun Ship" Imagination. Attend over 45 hands-on classes from beginning to advanced levels with many of the balloon industry's most effective and knowledgeable instructors. For more info see http://www.fooledya.com/cgi/ads.pl?advert=Fantasy
2nd European Balloon Modeling Meeting
For Balloon Twisters, the European Balloon Modeling Meeting will be held in Melle (near Osnabrueck), Germany, November 2-4, 1999. There is a limit of 150 people so sign up soon. For more information contact:
Rždiger Paulsen, Surprise Balloon Company, Bahnhofstr.90, 33829 Borgholzhausen
phone 05425/6551, fax 05425/7549 (Germany)
The All Star Revue
Coming November 14 -17, 1999 at the Crowne Plaza Meadowlands Hotel in Secaucus, New Jersey which is just a ten minute ride from the Lincoln Tunnel and Midtown Manhattan. Classes - many of them hands-on, 7 meals included, Opening Night Party, Fun & Games Night and a Vendor Village. Registration Packets will be in the mail shortly and Early Bird Registration will be $349.00. Contact Andrea & Mark Zettler, Dyane & Jimmy Hedrick at 1-888-833-STAR.
Gospel Balloon Jam
Coming up in January, it will be held simultaneously with Joey To The World-6 (JTTW6) Gospel Clown Convention in Houston, Texas. The GBJ will be headed up by Ralph Dewey and John Holmes. We are planning to have balloon performances, classes and of course JAM sessions. The GBJ will include everything from a simple balloon cross all the way to advanced figures and creations. The pre-registration price is $15.00 or $20.00 at the door after January 10th, 2000. One price of $15.00 covers both the GBJ and JTTW6. Contact Ralph Dewey (email@example.com)
Twist & Shout 2000!
February 4th, 5th and 6th, 2000
Twist & Shout 2000! at the Peabody Marriott Hotel in Massachusetts. This will be the twisting event of the year. Peabody is about 20 minutes north of the Boston Logan International (BOS) airport. Registration is only $55. The room rate is $74 per night. Visit http://www.balloonhq.com/events/ts2000.html for the most recent information about Twist & Shout 2000!
International Balloon Arts Convention
March 1-4, 2000. The biggest balloon convention every year, IBAC, is being held this year in Las Vegas, NV.
More information about some of these events and an updated listing can be found at http://www.balloonhq.com/events.html.
Since the last issue of BHQ News went out, there have been two new sets of feature photos on the BHQ home page. But don't fret if you missed last month's feature. You can still see it. All past feature photos are available at http://www.balloonhq.com/frontphoto.html.
In July we featured photos from a quest to create the Ultimate Balloon Doggie. Bertrand Charlot (Bidou) and Kees Albers have really thrown down the gauntlet! Check it out: http://www.balloonhq.com/feature/july99/.
While we've provided a nice write-up on Bidou's accomplishments, don't ask us how Kees does it... because we just don't know!
This month we're featuring the winners of the Wedding Centerpiece Contest, described elsewhere in this newsletter. Visit the BHQ home page (http://www.balloonhq.com).
It's the end of an era. Tom Myers announced that he will no longer be publishing True Inflations. The last issue of True Inflations (#31) was truly the last. (...we hear that they are now collector's items, fetching upwards of $25,000.00 on www.ebay.com... :-)
Tom writes that "The reason I'm going to stop writing TRUE INFLATIONS is that I and the world are changing... During the 90's TRUE INFLATIONS was a clearing house of twisters' ideas. As the Internet has grown, communication has changed. BalloonHQ.com has blossomed into an efficient clearing house for shared twisting information. Most of the new ideas to share are sent to the e-mail mailing list. ... Everyone gets your idea right then instead of waiting to see if I wrote it up for the newsletter. And you get immediate feedback from your idea. I don't want to republish information that many TRUE INFLATIONS subscribers have already seen on the net. Instead of spending so much time writing the newsletter, I'll... have more time to spend on the Internet side of the business. You'll [already] find the complete catalog on my web site http://www.tmyers.com "
Here at Balloon HQ we're sad to see Tom's valuable publication go, but we're honored to be named as its successor. Tom, we wish you best of luck as you expand your business into cyberspace!
If you want to learn more about latex allergies, see our newly updated Guide chapter "How balloons affect health" at http://www.balloonhq.com/faq/health.html.
Larry Hirsch pointed us to this web page about manufacturers of latex products being sued by people who develop latex allergies: http://www.ljx.com/litigation/latexglove.html. Let's hope this kind of thing isn't contagious!
And take a look at this post which describes a balloon-induced lung disorder: http://www.balloonhq.com/twistmail/upto12Aug1999/archive.10020.html.
The only thing we're allergic to here at Balloon HQ are posts that have nothing to do with balloons :-)
You can now take advantage of your own BalloonHQ.com address so that you can look more professional to your clients without giving up the services and software you already use. With this service you'll get an e-mail address and a web address that represent the professional community you belong to. For example, an imaginary person with the name Joe Balloonist that uses AOL can now get an e-mail address of the form Joe_Balloonist@BalloonHQ.com and a web site address of http://www.balloonhq.com/artists/Joe_Balloonist that can be used on business cards and other promotional material. An address like that has much more meaning than firstname.lastname@example.org. However, Joe will still be able to read his mail using the same software he already uses through AOL without changing anything on his end. Balloon HQ will transparently forward everything to his AOL account.
Other information about this including answers to common questions we received during the testing phase of this can be answered online at http://www.balloonhq.com/member.
Thanks for supporting Balloon HQ!
We want to briefly mention the changes that will be of interest to balloon artists. We're not finished with the formatting of the individual chapters yet but all the new material is available now for you to peruse.
Chapters 1-3 of "The business of ballooning" have now become six chapters devoted exclusively to twisters and six chapters devoted exclusively to professional balloon decorators. The six new twister chapters are:
The six new decorator chapters are:
Additionally, the old decorator chapter called "Balloon sculpture decorating" has now become eight, count 'em, eight new chapters:
Finally, the "Contracts for balloon professionals" chapter, the "Balloon Care" chapter and the "How balloons affect health" chapter have been greatly expanded.
We've added over 400 pages of sorted, categorized, new material... the best information and advice extracted from thousands of posts... and we're not done yet. Our plan is to put all the new information on line as plain text so it's available immediately. Then, once all the new info has been added, we'll go back and spruce it all up with nice formatting. Look for updated "Balloon Care" and "Crowd Control" chapters in the coming week. Next on the list are:
which we hope to have done by the end of August. Formatting what will be 30 new chapters is a huge task, and we need all the help we can get. If you would like to help by sprucing up a chapter, please read our volunteer page at http://www.balloonhq.com/faq/volunteer.html
Are http://www.fooledya.com/balloon and http://www.balloonhq.com one and the same web address??
For the time being they accomplish the same thing. However they are not the same and there may come a time when the fooledya.com addresses will no longer work to reach the Balloon HQ resources. The balloon resources started being transitioned over to balloonhq.com more than 3 years ago, and for the last year and a half that's the only address we've promoted to the balloon industry.
www.fooledya.com is Larry Moss' domain for Fooled Ya, his personal entertainment business which happens to also publish a couple of books on ballooning. Though www.fooledya.com hosted the balloon mailing lists for a time early on, Fooled Ya was never meant to be anything more than an entertainment business.
Balloonhq.com belongs to Balloon HQ, LLC, which was created to offer internet based services to balloon artists and the entire balloon industry. Other than the fact that Larry owns Fooled Ya and is a partner in Balloon HQ, there is no connection between the two. They serve different purposes and are run entirely independently.
Yes, there is still a link from www.fooledya.com to www.balloonhq.com so that all old links for balloon material still work. But today, you should only be using fooledya.com if you're looking for Larry or the services he offers (balloon twisting books, balloon classes, entertainment, decor with non-round balloons). You should use balloonhq.com to keep up on the balloon industry and to feel like you're part of an organization for balloon artists.
This contest was fun to run, but boy did you guys test us and our software by providing the largest number of entries, the largest number of votes and even the largest number of non-voting visitors to the contest pages we've ever seen. Basically what we learned is that a contest this big is indeed well worth doing. After we have time to recover and figure out how we can be better organized next time, we'll certainly do it again.
The winners of the Balloon HQ Autumn Theme Wedding Centerpiece Contest are:
First place - Patrick Brown aka Noodles the Clown, Dale City VA, USA Second place - Anesa Vecciarelli Third place - Madelon Batteiger, Twistin' Shout BALLOONS!, Campbell CA, USA
Congratulations to the winners! Your winning photos will be highlighted on Balloon HQ in the future and will appear in BALLOONS and Parties Magazine.
Make sure to view the winning entries, along with all others submitted at http://www.balloonhq.com/photos/contest/photo.htm. Information about the prizes given can also be found at that web site. Learn how they might be used by your balloon business.
Thank you to all those that visited the contest pages and took the time to vote on your favorites.
A special thanks to Westwinds, Premium Balloon Accessories, and BALLOONS and Parties Magazine for their contributions to this rather exceptional contest.
Let's start off with the best hat jokes we saw posted this month:
say, "Excuse me, I have to measure your brains. Oh, I see you have very large brains. Do you use them, or are they just for looks?"
I also make jokes about needing to buy bigger balloons because their brains are way too big.
If parents are nearby I ask if their brains came from the mother or father. That always provokes something. After they pick one I'll say, "Oh I see. So [the other one] is the good looking one."
When I am measuring a head to make a hat I always say "don't suck in now, I need to get a true measurement." Most of the older ones crack up at that.
I use the "don't suck your head in" line, and add that some people call it "changing your mind".
Before I fit a hat I ask if they have any sharp things on their head (a somewhat legitimate concern.) I say that if the balloon were to pop on their head, they would get a bald spot. Then I list sharp things. "Do you have any bobby pins?..." (no) "Horns?" (giggle) "Cactuseseses?"(more giggles) "Little green aliens?" "Teeth?" By this time the "no" answer has almost been pre-programmed into them, so they say no to the teeth. You can go on and on with the responses to this.
Another thing I may say when fitting a hat is "OH NO! Ring around the brain!"
Next our favorite quotes this month:
Dona Oliver posted the mantra of the "anti-impressionist" balloon artist: "I don't like balloons you can't identify without help."
Jan Lissens posted "The Applied Theorems of Murphy`s Law with regards to Recreational Ballooning"
1. If you successfully twist a balloon creation at home 1000 times, it will invariably pop while doing it in public.
2. Every kid that can be a bother, will be a bother. Every kid that cannot, will become so through sheer induction.
3. No matter how low a tip, there is always one lower, and you will receive it from the next person.
4. When most needed, witty reparte does not come to mind.
5. Every adult that can be a wisecracker, will be a wisecracker.
6. If you know 10,000 different models, the next kid in line will ask for the one you cannot do.
Tom Myers writes:
"They are thinner walled than Q and I got a little more breakage. But they are a little easier to inflate and with a soft touch they are useable. There are 19 colors that seem nice to me."
Granger 260G's will be available in 100 count bags in single colors or assorted colors. And they are inexpensive.
The latest Gayla catalog shows gold and silver 260's, plus 160s, 365s and a 10"x23" balloon they call a "Jelly Bean" balloon. The feel and twistability (as determined by testing hook twist, ear twist and other demanding maneuvers) is good. Their Jelly Bean reminds me of a fat #312 Airship balloon. When fully inflated, it is about as big as a good-sized watermelon.
Mark Muse writes:
Gaylas are thinner walled, but you can acclimate if you give them a chance. I've include Gayla's in my apron, right next to Q's P's and BSA's. They are more consistent than other brands, there are almost never defects. I think I've found one set of siamese twins since I started using them a couple years back. I think they squeak less then Qualatex. The gold and silver are a lot easier to twist than the BSA gold and silver (and easier to blow up!) though the color isn't quite as strong as BSA.
The 160G is about 65"-66" long, making it roughly 6" longer than the 160Q. They are much easier to mouth inflate than the Qs, but a little more difficult to put on the nozzle of a faster blaster. I was able to twist anything with them... pinch & pop series, braids, etc. The clear ones are great for longer mazes, and high bounce ball toys, detailed wings, googly eyes, etc. The 3/4" high bounce balls fit perfectly inside.
Despite its numerical assignment 365, the 365G balloon is about 61" long fully inflated. The diameter is a hair over three inches, ever slightly bigger than the 350Q. I felt the balloon was slightly sturdier than the 360P.
Fully inflated the Jelly Bean balloons look like a blimp or airship, They are about 10" x 24". The 72 count standard assortment came with all eight of the standard tones. They are offering Crystal and Pearl tones as well. Cool stuff for decorators and entertainers alike.
Contact information for Gayla is at http://www.gaylainc.com/balloon.html
Are you a balloon twister who isn't a clown and who likes to wear something that looks professional? The S&H Uniform Corp catalog has some great stuff including lots of matching suspenders, ties, cummerbunds and tons of apron options. Loads of good colors too, even metallic gold or silver. You'll even find good hats, including the "gatsby" type for clowns. Contact:
S&H Uniform Corp, 200 William St, Port Chester, NY 10573, (800) 210-5295
Like to wear shorts in hot weather? For some good socks or tights, try:
Foot Traffic (800) 789-FOOT
Anyone looking to "create an unusual look" should try something called flashgloves: one side is white and the palm is colored, from http://www.Americanband.com They also have fingerless gloves, colored gloves (cheaper than anyone I've bought from) and lots of sequens and glitter accessories--vests, bow ties, hats.
Our thanks to Larry Hirsch for providing that second link.
People get a kick out of hearing someone rattle off dozens of creations in 10 seconds -it's part of the entertainment. I use a very long list of things that I make as part of my act. I list about 50 things and I say them as fast as I can. Kids think it's really funny and will often ask me to "sing my song."
I tell them to listen carefully, then say the list a bit above normal speed. Usually the kids tell me I'm saying it too fast. So then I tell them I will say it slower, and proceed to say it as fast as I can. Sometimes I ask them if they want me to say it backwards, then proceed to turn my back to them and say the list in the same order. Finally I tell the entire list at a speed they can handle. My list is the same each time, so that sometimes I get a wise aleck adult who says they want the 8th thing I said, and I proceed to tell them exactly what it was and it's obviously not what they want, they just wanted to 'fool' the twister. They end up being the one 'fooled' My list started small, since my repertoire started small, and it has grown. I drop things off that are not working, and add things that seem good. My list is as follows. . .
I do . . . puppies, poodles, ponies, parrots, lovebirds in a heart swing, teddy bears holding hearts, stegosaurus, brontosaurus, flowers, rabbits, giraffes, monkeys, mice, snakes, ladybug bracelets, turtle bracelets, flower bracelets, alligators, crocodiles, Italian dogs, watch dogs, pregnant dogs, humming birds, bumble bees, helicopters, girl swirl hats, crazy hats, orbiter hats, monkeys climbing up palm tree hats, snail hats, octopus hats, black widow hats, flying pregnant wienie dog hats, flower hats, pirate hats and swords, princess tiaras, braided hats, bear with me hats, bee's in your bonnet and other things I forget.
The list at normal speed takes around 25 seconds. At fast speed it takes around 17 seconds.
My list goes like this: I make rats,cats,dogs, fish, birds, alligators and mosquitos,- lions and tigers and bears, oh my! and a few I don't remember.
One thing I can tell you with 100% accuracy: however long a list you spiel out, they always want the last one you say.
Others feel that lists are too long:
After a couple of years rattling off what I do over-n-over-n-over, I created a colorful paper sign listing about 25 balloon figures. The parents & older kids do a great job rattling off all the things I do when they walk up, which takes care of the tiny ones who can't read yet.
I ask the kids what their favorite color is. Then I give them their choice of three. I say "do you want a kitty, a doggie, or a bunny?" (for girls) or for boys "would you like a tiger, motorcycle or a monkey?" They usually (9 times out of 10) pick one of the sculptures that I suggest.
I usually just say "I make hats or aminals." Often folks will have a favorite animal or one on an article of clothing or jewelry. If so, that's one to suggest! Otherwise I ask, "Would like something to wear or hold?" Then I choose colors from the clothes they are wearing so as to customize the balloons to them. I always tell them "We need to accessorize you know!" It gets very good reactions.
When asked what I can do, I respond with "I quit counting at 1,000 six years ago last August. Tell me what you want and if I don't know it, maybe I can make one up for the very first time right here & now and add another new one to my collection of balloon animals. I'd like that. Wouldn't you?" Gets a nod every time. If they don't know what they want, I ask if they would like a surprise. Gets a nod the other times. I then pause and look them over while looking within my inner person to see if something comes to mind for this one. 50/50 it does and more often than not, it's a hit! They like it.
forget about the pressure of memorizing a list: prepare a menu.
Here are some great new menu comments that you won't find in the menu section of the Crowd Control chapter of the Guide:
If you do use a menu, make a color photocopy of each page for use on jobs and to keep the original in a safe place at home. I learned this the hard way when I left my first set of hand-drawn menus at a party and was never able to get them back.
I covered my pump with contact paper, cut the shapes of a lion, bear, worm, frog, puppy, and chihuahua out of different primary colors of contact paper and stuck them to the pump. Little kids just walk up and point to what they want.
I'm working on a new menu with less detail than my previous menus. I only used color in my line drawings as a "clue" to myself in case I forget how many balloons a "not so frequently" requested one takes. It's good to have enough detail so that when you give them what they ask for they aren't disappointed because it wasn't what they had expected, but not so much that it limits your creative juices. Don't use drawings of the finished balloons - it spoils the surprise. I would rather put drawings of the general animal (lion, poodle, giraffe, etc). I've found it frustrating when a kid says, "No, that's not like the picture." In fact, they often make me to stick to the exact colors in the pictures, which is frustrating if I'm running low on a particular color.
I use a paper "Menu" that looks just like a menu. It has appetizers, entrees, and desserts and on some of them I even have a suggested tip -- if that is appropriate for the job I am doing. It is also a good hand out. When I did restaurants on a regular basis, I used to give it to the kids and tell them to take it home with them so they can decide what they want the next time. The back of the menu has lists of things that I do -- balloons, face painting, magic, music, etc., etc. It is a good promotional tool.
The only thing that I think is sort of strange is when I know the kid can't read so I hand the menu to the parent and the parent says "oh, he can't read."
I have found that when I do not have the children seated on the floor, together, directly in front of me, it lessens the impact of my show. I find that if the kids are spread out, two on the floor, three on the sofa, a couple standing in the doorway, it is like playing to multiple audiences and more easily allows distractions to interfere with the show.
Sometimes it is difficult to have the kids arranged in the way I like. I've also noticed it takes some effort to get them grouped in the middle. They all want "front row seats" so they spread out around the sides. It takes some effort to get them to "clump up". But I assure them that I often pick the kids in the back row for volunteers and that gets 'em movin'. Outdoor parties bring problems of mud, kids too prissy to sit on the ground anyway, and here in the South, fire ants.
Go to your friendly neighborhood carpet store, and see if you can buy a stack of their used sample mats off them. They might even give them to you for free. Then you've got a big colorful pile of perfectly sized soft pads for the kids to sit on. No question as to where they should sit, the pads are down when they start to sit down for the show. No problem with mud or grass stains. And it makes you look more prepared and as a result more professional to the parents. Does it take up space in your car? Yes, a little bit, but isn't the impression left on parents worth it?
One of those cheap plastic table covers would work well for defining an audience seating space, particularly if the print has a party theme, or if it matches the color scheme of your costume or props. It would keep the kids relatively clean, and lend a nice touch. Seat kids at the four corners, then let the rest trundle into the middle.
Colored masking tape sticks rather easily to floors or carpet, but is very easy to pick up afterward. It's amazing how quickly you can mark off a performance area (under 30 seconds), and the kids are pretty good about respecting the boundary (kids do pretty well when they're given specific limits in most, but not all, cases). Pool noodles also work well and are very festive looking. If possible, mark off your performance zone before the kids enter the room, and guide them behind it as they enter. Kids like to creep closer and closer so I tell them that's their house and this mine and they have to be invited to come it. They think it's funny but they seem to take it seriously too.
I had a wild crowd where my sculptures were being grabbed and smashed for the sheer demonic joy of it. I got fed-up with doing all that twisting for nothing, so I began blowing up 260's, cutting a small hole in the end and "shooting" them, as taught by T.Myers. Just to be heard over the din I began shouting "Ready, Set, Go" or "Charge" and they'd take off chasing them. They'd bring them back, I'd fill 'em up again. And we kept it up for nearly an hour. For this they paid a twister!!
My own son had super sensitive hearing and used to fear a balloon pop as if it were a bomb. (He used to spend every party event with his fingers in his ears.) When someone ( usually a child ) covers their ears, I'll say something along the lines of "if you get a chance, could you cover my ears also, I would, but my hands are full" Always gets a good snicker. I found a pair of ear protectors that are meant to be used on a shooting range, bought those along with a pair of the yellow shooter's glasses, and now after a few pops, I'll pull them out, put them on and pause, waiting for the giggles, then say "hey, you can trust me....I'm a professional!?"
I've cured a few people of the fear of POPPING balloons with the ol' "goes the weasle" routine. Before I start, I tell all the kids that if they hear a pop they all have to say together "goes the weasle". I usually have a few pops when I am breaking off balloon portions and I have had a few successes at curing the fear with this technique.
Fred, where do you work and when's quittin' time? :-)
Cheaper line closing alternatives can be found in the Crowd Control chapter of the Guide.
We humbly stand corrected :-)
In my experience at major corporate family days, festivals, street parties, charity fundraisers, etc. where you have a potential audience of several hundreds or thousands, the audience will find you wherever you are. As I am sure you know, once you start, you will gather a crowd and you are 'stuck' there for a time (if not the whole day!).
Being static has major benefits for you and your client. After all, the more balloons you are making, the more happy 'customers' there are and the better you are doing your job. You should be making balloons rather than walking! But ...... there is the problem of your client / booker. Moving can be difficult but can be turned into a plus.
You need to ask why the client wants you to 'roam'. They presumably have a reason. It could be that they don't know how you work. Educate them (carefully). I don't know how long you are working, whether it is inside or out, what kind of audience you have and what other entertainment there is. It is therefore difficult to be specific. Find out about the event and get the 'big picture' and show that you care by making positive suggestions. Perhaps suggest that you work static spells in 30 minute periods and then move to a new spot. If there are points where crowds are likely to gather (but where you won't interfere with other entertainment) suggest you visit these in a rotation. Perhaps suggest you do an opening period near the entrance / registration area, then move to whatever, then near lunch work the food queues, after lunch by another spot and so on.
The plus in moving for you is that it gives you strength. Just being able to take a breather, refocus, refresh is a real plus at a long event. Chances are that you will be followed and the new audience at the new spot will bring an energy that is invaluable.
If you do 'close' every 30 minutes or so, you will have to find a way of doing that. There have been previous posts on this list you should refer to. However, the answer does depend on whether you are a production line for a queue or an entertainment where you choose to give away the end product. As an entertainer I prefer the latter approach and it also makes 'finishing' easy. If you have kind of decided in advance where you are likely to work, you can write out your own itinery which allows you to look at it and say that you are sorry but you have to stop after the next one as you are due at the monkey house / food tent / ski-slope in 10 minutes (or whatever).
One user writes, "The float time of Glass-Balloons (or Sparklets as we call them in Australia) is quite impressive. Visiting Jean-Michel Lucie at The Balloonery today I saw a very intelligent use for the little (plastic) bubbles. Jean-Michel has inserted his whole range of printed and plain latex inside them and hung them in the shop so they don't oxidize too quickly."
Another writes "I love them, but I find it wears me out when I spin tie multiple balloons. I have spun and spun and spun until I am spun out. At first I had trouble with poking my nail in the neck of the balloon or slitting them with the line. I am getting better now, but the expense of my waste is eating up too much profit. They're not an easy balloon to work with as the neck is so short. I tried clipping them with a yo-yo clip but that wasn't easy either. "
Need to put up an air-filled, outdoor balloon arch that'll really
wow 'em? This post by a mechanical engineering PhD will give
you a seat-of-the-pants feel for some of the necessary structural
considerations, without sacrificing the aesthetic ones:
Decorators are uniformly dissatisfied with the cardboard columns from the prom catalogs.
Lanette Rajski writes, "We wanted an upscale look to our balloon decor, so we decided to invest in four 6' columns with light bases, and two 3' columns with light bases - BOY, was that one of the best moves we ever made!! We have used these columns literally hundreds of times over the past 10 years (we finally had to retire our "original" columns just a year and a half ago) and have made sooooooo much money off of them! In certain situations, it is a lot faster to put a roman column on the corner of a dance floor and attach balloon toppers than it is to build a column totally out of balloons (if it coordinates with the theme of the event) - plus, the columns give the balloons a completely different look. When we weren't using the columns, they were available for rent, and we rented them out frequently. It only took us 2 - 3 times of using them until they were paid for and we were making total profit everytime they went out the door.
Sources for quality columns include:
American Rotational Molding in Anaheim, California. Phone (714) 630-3999, Fax (714) 630-4219
They have other products to coordinate with their columns such as semi-circle colonnades to connect the columns and form a half circle, a colonnade arch, urns, street lamps, etc., etc. They even have a portable fountain and garden benches. See many of their products for the Sept/Oct issue of "Weddings with Style"
Rotocast Display Products has very nice columns also http://www.rotocast.com/display (800) 327-5062
There is a new company called "J.A. International" in Florida (877) 524-6851
You can often find good, inexpensive plastic ones at a local garden shop.
Alternatively, make your own columns to fit the occasion. Go to a good building or contractor supply house and buy a cardboard tube of the size you want; 8",12",16" or even 24" diameter. In real life these tubes are designed to be forms for pouring concrete columns. Cover them with plastic wrap, foils or cloth, and make a base and top to suit the event. These are not difficult to make but the larger tubes get expensive. They run $84.00 for a 12 foot tube, but they are reusable many times.
The problem with charging a fee for the first consultation is that a lot of people who aren't already familiar with your work and are convinced that they want to use you will possibly not come in for a first consultation if you charge. When you offer that first consultation free, you entice them in and get the chance to sell them on your services. Sometimes they don't buy but at least you get them in and get the chance to talk them into it. If you already have enough potential customers (repeat and referrals) that you don't worry about scaring off first time customers who don't want to pay for a consultation that they might not use, then charging is a good solution.
If you continue to do free consulations there are some things you can do. Follow up and see why they don't book you. Maybe they found someone cheaper or with a different idea that they liked better. That happens and you shouldn't let it bother you when it happens occasionally. I often get multiple quotes when I go to have something done and compare prices and ideas. I know that other people do this too and I won't be everyone's favorite. Maybe you will find that many of these people just can't afford your services. I try to cut down on this by asking first what kind of decor they have in mind, then second what their budget is. Sometimes I get someone who says "I want X number of XYZ" but more often they don't know.... so working within their budget is easier.
And then sometimes you get someone who takes your ideas and tries to copy them. I try to show them lots of pictures during the consultation but give them very few that could be copied to take home. And if the same person gets your consultation for every event but never buys..... it is definitely time to start charging them. The same goes for drawings. They can see drawings while they are talking to you, but these don't have to be detailed enough for them to reproduce without your help.
New BUSINESS CLIENTS sometimes need a different approach and if they are serious then they should understand the need for a small downpayment before you do too much work for them. This is really one you have to sort out for yourself, business is business and they sometimes feel they want the upperhand and try to dictate the conditions from the start. If they get too pushy from the start take heed of those warning bells and again leave them with nothing that can be easily displayed to your competitor. If a client, domestic or business, has the time and attitude but not the budget they WILL play several companies againt each other just to save a few dollars. Of course they don't realise that they have already spent big dollars of their own by wasting their own time running from balloon business to balloon business. It is sometimes an advantage to point that fact out to them.
It's not easy to put the ideas regarding this subject into practice and your policy might change from client to client in order to do the best for your own business. At least HAVE A POLICY regarding this matter. It may not be enforced to the same degree to every client but without a policy in place you'll never establish a comfortable working method.
How about the customers (often brides) who think that they can create balloon decor for their wedding, and then they even have the nerve to grill us as to how to do it?! As I politely declined to divulge info as to how to do a spiral arch, this bride was soooo rude to me, and assured me that she would indeed do this arch! Ok, whatever! But, do they ever think about how much money they will spend for (probably) a whole tank of helium, several gross of latex (at retail), (even though they don't need all of them)... and the stress... and then they do it the night before.. never heard of Hifloat, and they call all stressed out the morning of the wedding to fix it! Actually, I think we can do it for less than they would pay for all the extra materials, and it saves them the headache, and looks so much better.
These are the people that I love, I can fondly recall a bride that was going to do a canopy for her own reception that Sunday, having quoted the work I was informed that it could be done for less, and the young lady purchased all the goodies. At 3:30 that Sunday, guess who rang with tears in her eyes? Yes we did it for her at double the price, paid in advance, and we were also sworn to secrecy never to tell her in-laws or relations. The end result, we have now done her child's christening, sister's engagement and upcoming wedding!
Balloon decorators see the benefit in selling what the customer CAN NOT create by thenselves. We've discovered the "secrets" to pricing and to selling, not just the skills trade secrets. That's why the brides with champagne taste and beer budgets come begging for us professionals to "fix" their home made balloon disasters.
1. Never "repair" their balloon work. Go to the site on the condition that they buy from you what they should have ordered in the first place - with payment in full - in advance. 100% your materials and workmanship. You owe them no favours!
2. Keep those confidential trade secrets to ourselves and continue lifting the minimum standards.
We have had many clients watch us work and then ask "How do you get the balloons to stay us there?" (SOP Arch). We don't say "Duh - Helium". We smile at them and say "Balloon Magic". If they ask - "No, really how do you do that?". We smile again and tell them that a good magician never reveals how the trick is done. We have never had a client push us for further information or get angry.
I wanted to share a comment that works for me as far as revealing how things are done. When asked, I lean over and whisper " Can you keep a secret?".. and the interested party smiles, nods " yes".. and listens with enthusiasm .. and my next response is "Well, so can I ! " It usually stops them in their tracks.
When someone asks my first response is "magic." It shuts up about half of them because they know they have asked a question that you are not going to answer. But then there is the other half who say, "No, really how do you do that?" I reply, "I went to school to learn how." Watch their mouths drop open. Then I proceed to tell them about all of the classes and seminars that I have gone to like IBAC or Ballooniversity plus any other classes or courses or distance studies that I have done and any professional organizations that I belong to that are relevant. They are usually surprised that there is professional training involved. This does two things. #1 It changes the subject from the exact mechanics to my professional background. #2 It helps the client/potential client/general public see me as a trained professional instead of just "the woman who blows up balloons." I have never had anyone continue to press me for instructions on how to make a balloon arch once I have pointed out that I went through a good deal of training to learn to do this.
I have a tendency to take a very aggressive approach with these things, but with the UTMOST DIPLOMACY and TACT, always taking the professional approach. You have the right to protect your trade secrets, your expertise, your designs and your creations. While you can't stop them from taking pictures of your completed work you most definitely can stop them from filming your work in progress.
I always introduce myself and my company to anyone working on my event. After all it's teamwork that is going to pull it off and I love to develop new sources etc. Within 5 minutes of someone working in the room with me I would have stopped and gone over and introduced myself and slyly inquired as to whom I had the pleasure of working with on this event as we like to know all vendors in case of opportunity to refer them from our portfolio shots... yadda yadda.
We don't allow guests in the room while we are working. This is something that we always discuss in advance with the Bride and the Venue contact. I use my venue contact person, bride and my contract to make sure that all other vendors work in harmony for the good of the Bride/Event. Within 3 minutes of being taped I would have advised (very nicely at first) your videotaper that she is in violation of my decorating contract with the bride.
Should she have gotten mouthy about it being ok for them to film my staff and our techniques ALL WORK WOULD IMMEDIATELY HAVE STOPPED while I contacted both the venue contact person and bride if necessary and notified them of this violation and the potential problems. To these people my approach would have been soft, nice and yet very firm stating that it is my preference for no one to be upset but that these are my original creations and how they are created is ABSOLUTELY confidential... yadda yadda yadda... and I am here to tell you there is no way the venue contact nor the bride would allow this to continue...
If for some strange reason they chose not to support you in this simpley put to the Bride that if this DOES NOT CEASE IMMEDIATELY NO FURTHER WORK WILL BE DONE AND I WILL HAPPILY SEE THEM IN COURT AS I WILL HOLD THEM AS THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY! Enough said!
I took a canopy class two years at IBAC by Linda Bruce. She shared a great story with us regarding a great nonverbal/nonconfrontational creative solution to a problem client and video taping. She had a client who would hire her and then video tape her construction. The next year the client would then duplicate the decor. I believe this happened again the 3rd year - hiring her and video taping. So the next time the client hired her, she came prepared. Her client started the video taping again. First, she and her staff wrapped the perimeter of the dance floor poles with the wide yellow "CAUTION/DANGER AREA" tape. Next, she and her staff put on hard hats. Then she and her staff put on those leather waist aprons and loaded them with all sorts of tools. Then they started the dance floor canopy. The client watched all of this and then stopped the video taping and hired them to do the decorating next year. We immediately went out and brought the yellow "Caution" tape. Just in case. (We have not used it for that reason. But it does keep waiters and hotel staff from walking into your canopy construction area or arch construction lines.)
When I see someone trying to watch me do balloons, I'll usually turn my back to them and do my work. The least they see is the best. I've never been video taped but I would probably start questioning them on why there videoing my work, then recommend some classes they could take locally. Then tell them politely you would prefer not to be video'd. I would be polite but firm. Tell them you spend a lot of hours educating yourself and hand her your business card. Say it's a lot easier and no stress to hire me than to do it yourself.
Just the other week for the first time EVER I had a DJ set up his equipment within 10' of the wedding Gazebo in front of the guests and hang his Vinyl advertisement in front of his equipment. After a very very tactful and friendly approach this gentlemen (hardly!) got very mouthy and refused to remove his sign and or move his equipment over. If left where he was HIS VERY TACKY ADVERTISEMENT which was poorly done would have been in every wedding shot and video--You bet I will be a very agressive advocate for the Bride in this case-- I politely disengaged and moved to another tack.. that of enlisting the Venue Contact and Bride if necessary to help complete the action with the least resistance. Within 10 minutes I had explained the situation very calmy to the Bride (being very considerate not to panic her) but to simply have her informed and of course her compliance and a member of the Bridal party advocating for her and down came the sign and over went the equipment.
I firmly believe in keeping good relations with all vendors and Venues even in the instance of this DJ; I later complimented him (it was deserved) on his music selections and set up inside and thanked him for his cooperation. While I am firm I also want to keep a good working relationship with all (even if hell will freeze over before I recommend them). I love working with other vendors and love referring and being reffered so don't burn any bridges just do what you gotta do with the most professional approach you can.
Even if I need to have the wait staff change a tablecloth because it is stained or unexceptable so be it! For me this works, this is part of what builds my repuatation as a designer and makes my brides feel safe knowing that all will be done as it should. For myself I have never felt comfortable with the concept of "I am just the balloon person" it reminds me of the guy who says I don't know I just work here and goes on without a care for the client.
Win the mother of bride over to your side! I find if mother comes to, they are ready to buy. Also it is the one time when being older has its reward. The mother trusts me!
I find that we can resell the same decor every 3 years, as the brides change round with their friends is covered by this time period. So, I rotate decor on a 3 yearly period, also try to bring in one really spectacular piece of decor each year and show this at our top bridal fair. It's worked so far!
It worried me that I had not booked so many jobs this year, until I looked at the calibre of work we were booking; much bigger and better paid work, and not so much of the small jobs. So be prepared to change, if it's better for your Company.
Charge for the frames and abandon them. Charge enough to replace and for the business loss when the planner starts to use them in competition with you. It will soon become more economical to pay you to pick them up.
I feel it would be a little cheeky to actually charge to go back and collect something that you want. BUT your argument could be that you are only renting the particular item to them and that you have to charge to deliver/pickup. It's all part of the service. If you word it correctly and clearly from the beginning they should understand that they either buy or rent the decoration. A lighting company builds into the bill the cost of delivering equipment and then returning the eguipment. A caterer would make sure the client covered the cost of cleaning the linen or washing the dishes. It's all built into the final cost. I'd say if they like and use your services regularly then they must be willing to pay for them otherwise they should set themselves up as a charity.
We charge a tear down and strike fee.....and that includes a repeat visit to the site for any reason...too pick up frames..lights or rental items. We always leave the option open to return the framing to us.... But we require it be in A1 condition and that most vehicles will not accommodate this...so it is easier to pay us to do it for them ... it is not a large fee ... we are only 40 C-shells for this service....To DELIVER the framed objects...strike and return to stock, and of course the price of the ART itself. That helps pay for my time. gas and "Grunts" while I haul them in and out.
To avoid confusion/explanation to my customers about what each charge is. I question during the consultation if they will be tearing down the decor (if the location does not) if their answer is not then what I do is I include it in the package price. I say " the total amount is $---- for delivery, set-up and breakdown. I believe it sounds better than indicating a price for each charge. Most of the time they do not even question about breakdown. But at the beginning when I said the decor is $---- delivery $----- and breakdown $------- they would comment as to why the cost, or why so expense or even I thought that would be included. When I have those customers that do not want the breakdown charge and I inform them as to what has to be done and they see that it will take their time from their event. They prefer to pay. So try including the whole price in the package.
Someone else asked how much to charge for deposits on rentals. We have found that we need to charge way more than the cost of the item. If you charge a low amount or just what it costs to replace the item you will end up costing yourself more than you think. For instance we charge a refundable deposit on weights and frames that we want back. When we charged a low amount we almost never got the items back. That meant we had to make more. We make our weights with concrete. It is a lot of work and trouble. We would rather not have to do this. So if we charge a high amount for them, we usually get them back. If we don't get them back we don't mind so much because we were more than compensated for them. We have also learned that if we sell an item that we really want back, such as a sculpture frame, we include pick up in our price and don't give the client a choice to bring it back themselves. We have had clients bring back aluminum rod frames that are so mangled that we have to reconstruct it anyway. This eleminates that happening. You can charge a deposit as well because sometimes things happen to them anyway. One thing that we know happens is that hotels, clubs and restaurants throw everything away! We tell our clients this fact and stress to them that they are responsible to return weights, etc. Some of them assume that we are going to pick them up. We have had people call us up after an event and say "you can come and pick up your weights now". We have them sign a contract with the weight deposit that tells them they are responsible to return rental items and we point that out to them before the party now.
My main point is: Make your deposit be high enough that people will think twice before they throw your stuff away or just forget about it. It takes awhile before you can get used to not cringing when you tell someone how much it is, but you do get used to it. I find that most people don't even blink when I tell them how much it is.
I agree with those who say to include pick up and tear down in your beginning price. Charge enough of a security deposit on frames so that those who are responsible to either bring them back or during the event before you get back to pick up - will not want to lose their deposit by allowing someone to throw them away or destroy them. I find it a hassle to have to replace frames, esp. difficult ones like a swan or top hat, etc. If the client wants to buy a sculpture, they will have to pay for pick up and tear down or they can't afford it and don't order it. I do not let party planners tell me how to run my business or how much I am allowed to charge. It is my business and not theirs. Speaking of which, I have had such people order from me for their clients and then re sale the decor to their client at such a high price that I get flack for it. I will not allow someone else to raise my price that much. How about anyone else? What do you do? I have given discounts to them and then regret it latter and have found that if I do that I lose money. So now I have to raise my prices in order to give these planners a discount.
Regarding Tear Down Fees -- with our company, this is not an option. We have a $50 strike fee (for local area, more for distance). It mostly applies to weddings. I find that most brides are relieved to not have to worry about that at the end of her big day. The only time we don't charge this is when there is absolutely no frames, lights, etc. we want back. We use to charge a deposit and hope for the best, but when a bride returned a bag of crumpled tulle from her cake table that the ants had gotten into, I stopped the practice immediately (after I had my shop sprayed!).
I have a strike crew which goes out and picks up the items, returns them to my shop and puts them away so we can start out week out "cleaned up". This is a great plan, as after doing 4-5 weddings on a Saturday, I find it very hard to stay up until midnight or later to strike these events.
For corporate events, we just build the strike fee into our pricing.
If I have to leave my home after an event is over to retrieve anything, then the customer is going to have to pay for that. You can include it in the cost of the job, sell them the frame or they can possible return it to you if it is a smaller frame that they can fit into a mini van but one way or another the customer needs to pay for your time and gas. I personally do not sell my frames (and rarely consider them disposible) because it is part of my knowledge and I don't want customers reusing it without hiring me. Balloon sculptures are dependant on the right framework. Why would we sell it? I like the idea of including the return trip into the price of the job so that you are getting paid without the hassle. I have found that even when I sell bouquets for delivery that if I just tell them the bottom line price including delivery that most customers are happy with that.
Do you constantly lose those red nozzle caps that come with every Hi-Float pump kit? If so, here are some tips to keep your nozzle from dripping and drying out:
Home Depot stores sell wired shelving units which incorporate the same size plastic caps. One can purchase a whole bag of them.
Simply tape ribbon to the bottle and to the cap.
Put a very TINY hole in the red cap and attach it to the neck of the high float pump with monofiliment line.
Tape over the nozzle after the cap is misplaced.
slip a deflated 5" latex over the nozzle.
Use a pen cap, you may find hundreds of them laying around your office...
Here at Balloon HQ we've spent years collecting tips on using balloons outdoors. You'll find our collection at: http://www.balloonhq.com/faq/deco_outdoors.html.
Sales by Rouse of all such licensed Rouse products are permitted and Rouse balloon display systems are considered as complementary to Pioneer's product offering. As such, those products are eligible for use in Pioneer-sponsored publications, competitions, and other events or activities sponsored by Pioneer.
Pioneer intends to develop and market square RMS products and other products covered by the license from Rouse.
The following information will soon be published and also available from Pioneer:
(1) a layman's explanation of the SDS patents and Pioneer's enforcement policy.
(2) details on how to secure a license for the limited use of "home made" balloon display apparatus covered by SDS patents. Contact Jennifer Exline at Pioneer (316/685-2266 or email: email@example.com) to obtain a copy.
WAY Cool Balloon Hats: The Prequel is $10 just like all of our other WAY cool Books: WAY Cool Balloons, WAY Cool Hats, WAY Cool Holiday Balloons and WAY Cool Spaghetti Balloons. If you don't have them, be sure to contact one of our dealers and get them!
This video contains a dozen hats, plus a little extra, that range in difficulty from beginner to medium. The video was digitally mastered, professionally shot and edited. Length: approx. one hour. Contents include: Two Way Dino Hat, Mouse Hat, Cat Hat, Pig Hat, Rabbit Hat, Fish Hat, Hammer Head Shark Hat, Dragon Hat, Eyeball Hat, Space Shuttle Hat, Skyrocket Hat, Scorpion Hat.
This book has been out for a bit, but just recently got the attention of the BHQ editors. It's book on hard core street magic. In other words, Groves doesn't really discuss the festival setting. But it's a good overview. He also talks specifically about building a magic show for the street. That may not be directly relevant to most of the people on this list, but if you read it for his discussion of a street show you'll get something out of it. We give this booka thumbs up for balloon entertainers.
Pioneer Balloon Company has introduced the Qualatex Double Your Profits Retailer Tip Sheets. This free series features ideas on how to add value and make more money with balloons. Each sheet features one main idea that is fairly fast and simple to create, low-cost, and low-maintenance, and offers retailers a high return, said Carol Skaff, marketing manager, Pioneer Balloon Company. To receive the tip sheets or to contribute ideas for future tip sheets, retailers can call 1-800-803-5380 or 316-685-2266.
Pioneer Introduces Instructional Video Kits for Balloon Beginners Designed to help retailers make more money with balloons, Pioneer Balloon Company has developed a two-step video series for beginners - the Qualatex Double Your Profits Videotape Kits 1 & 2. These Kits show just how easy it is to make more money with balloons, said Kathy Williams, Pioneer Balloon Company. The tapes teach tips on how to work faster, price for profitability, and do more with balloons, which will make retailers more money.
Both Kits are available from Qualatex balloon distributors and Pioneer Balloon Company at 1-800-803-5380. From Pioneer, Kit 1 is $9.95 (plus $4.50 shipping and handling) and Kit 2 is $14.95 (plus $4.50 shipping and handling). Retailers save $4.50 shipping and handling when both Kits are ordered together.
The next time you inflate a Qualatex Mandarin Orange balloon, you may notice a warmer, clearer, and more vibrant balloon. The change is all part of our ongoing effort to be more responsive to customer comments, and better serve the needs of all markets. You may notice that in their uninflated form, the new and old formulations look very different. On inflation, though, the change is more subtle; it's less a change in color and more a change in feel.
This BHQ newsletter has been compiled by the Balloon HQ editors.
The Balloon HQ web site can be found at http://www.balloonhq.com.