AMy first big bridal show is in two weeks. I have a double booth 2 10x10s. Any tips I should keep in mind. I could really use the insight, I am super nervous. Everyone I talk to swings either one way or the other. They either never do shows or never miss a show. What is everyone's thoughts? Thank you!!
Chef Jen :)
I did a bridal show last April and I have really mixed feelings about it.
There's pictures of my set up on my Facebook page. I only had 5 display cakes but my booth looked really nice. I had 2 helpers. For samples, I offered 3 flavors in little covered 2 ounce cups. Each cup had a little square of cake and a squirt of buttercream. We had baskets that we kept filled with the samples that we gave out along with a cute little tasting fork and a napkin. I was in front of the booth the whole time, talking to people and handing out the samples. I did NOT want to be cutting cake there and I'm SO glad I did it that way. It was extra work the day before but so much easier (and more sanitary) the day of.
The good: I love planning those types of things so that was fun. I got TONS of positive feedback from other vendors, brides, even the show promoters. They loved my booth, my aesthetic, how we were dressed (me in a chef coat, my assistants in matching aprons, all of us in black pants), how friendly and interactive we were, my display cakes, how my samples were packaged, how my cakes tasted, etc. I left there on cloud 9! I have booked 3 weddings from it, which was my goal, but I would love to get a couple more.
I got a list of all the participants with their contact info. I’ve done 2 rounds of emails so far and plan on another soon.
Some cons... Doing an expo is expensive! Not only do you need to pay for your booth space, you need the samples, plenty of business cards, brochures, tasting forks, covered cups and napkins, the cost of your dummies and decorating them, booth decor, signage, attire and I paid my assistants. Of the first 5 consults I scheduled from the show, they all cancelled at the last minute or were no-shows (yes, I was left sitting at Panera with all my cake stuff). You can't really trust the promoters...I was promised they only book 2 of each kind of vendor so there would be just one other cake company there. Not so, there were 2 other cakers and when I asked about I was told that one of them does CUPCAKES so doesn't count as a cake decorator.
I ran a "special" of sorts. If the wedding couple booked a consultation while at the show and then booked a cake, they would get free delivery. It was too much on top of everything else. Plus, even though I confirmed with all of them ahead of their appointments, those were the ones who cancelled or didn't show. I would not do this again! I would, however, consider doing a drawing for free delivery or something like that. I’m also glad I didn't donate for the door prizes. It was so loud you could barely hear which vendor names they were reading/promoting.
Something I was REALLY glad I did and would do again: even though I didn't have a lot of display cakes, they were absolutely pristine. The other cake decorator had a lot of display cakes but they were getting old and tired looking. Dusty, chipped, etc. The cupcaker's sample cupcakes had peeling liners which I'm sure was unappealing to potential brides. That being said, in a way I was lucky in that because I know there are better decorators here in my area. Also, the interacting I did with everyone seemed to be really appreciated. I took 3 walks around the show and every time, both of the other cakers were just sitting behind a table at their booth waiting for people to approach them.
I know this was long…it’s pieced together from a few posts I’ve done about the experience (I didn’t just type all this ). Honestly, I’m on the fence as to whether I’d do another. Maybe every 3 years or so…
Most places require ALL food samples to be distributed in covered containers. Buy sm lidded cups and put small samples of cake in them. Bake sheet cakes cut into 1x1" pieces then when in cup squirt a bit of b'cream on it. You can also put a strip of fondant on some if you do fondant cakes. I would fill all the cups, put on tray (or in box) then add the icing before adding lid. And label each flavor. If you don't want to label each cup, put each flavor on one tray w/sign. Be *sure!* to have plastic spoons/forks for them to eat it with. Some people bulk at using their fingers. Oh, & have napkins around.
Take at least one change of shoes - from high heels to low to give your feet a rest as you probably will be on them most if not all the time. Change about every hour. You will be surprised at how much this one thing will mean to you overall :)
Be sure to be friendly w/the other vendors; talk, talk, talk w/them as much as you can. Let them sample your cake. When I did shows I typed up small (business card size) signs w/displayed cake name, sizes,& cost to set in front of each.
........"Some cons... Doing an expo is expensive! Not only do you need to pay for your booth space, you need the samples, plenty of business cards, brochures, tasting forks, covered cups and napkins, the cost of your dummies and decorating them, booth decor, signage, attire".......
Yes, I agree w/this ^^!!
First I want to start by saying a HUGE Thank you to both of your responses! They are super well thought out and full of the most important details.
I have spent a fortune on this show! Cake dummies, fabric, signage, carpet, business cards, banners, holy lord there is so much more. Not to mention the time i am taking away from real cakes to make all these dummies. I am estimating about 10, i have a double booth. I am bringing between 4-5 flavors of cake samples and yes I am doing the mini cups with lids. At this point I need to figure out how many samples I need. This is a huge show and the leading man David Tutera will be there all day. He is having a champagne breakfast before the show opens and my booth faces it. There are going to be 5 cake vendors total to include me. 2 of which I am not worried about but 3 I am of the same caliber. I am donating a hand painted cookie bouquet to the door prizes and I am running a raffle for 3 girt certificates (grand prize 350., 2nd prize 200., 3rd prize 100). This is my first rodeo and I am petrified to over do it and petrified to not do it enough. Not only that I am new on the "official" scene and have been around only a year so 99% of the vendors I haven't met. The entire thing is so nerve wracking.
My end goal is to be seen more by the vendors than anything. I want people to see what I can do in hopes that I can build confidence as a business. But then I also want brides. Ensue panic attack lol. The wedding industry is so tough. I just want to be friends. BTW I am deff bring 2 pairs of shoes, that is a great idea!
Thank you again!!!
Not only that I am new on the "official" scene and have been around only a year so 99% of the vendors I haven't met.
Just your newness will be a draw for the other vendors. It was for me. The other vendors at the show seemed excited to meet the "new kid" in town, so to speak.
AThank you to everyone who responded!! I do need to breathe. Almost ready though!!!