Like flea markets, fairs have a reputation for not being technologically up-to-date. As the old adage goes, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The thing is, it is broke. And technology can help fix it.
There are a number of aspects fairs and festivals share, that are messy at best. Things like communicating with vendors, the application and jury process, managing layouts, and collecting post-event surveys. All of these things are vitally important, and can be substantially improved.
Let’s tackle these, one by one.
Historically, vendor communications are done through mail, email, or phone calls. There is no single, central location to house these correspondences and manage them in a realistic way.
Using a software program designed to help manage other areas of your market for communications helps bring everything together. A common situation is multiple people (often volunteers), handle these communications. By using a software platform, everyone can see past messages, notes, who sent them when, and any other vital information.
This is a whole lot easier for many people to tackle incoming messages, as well as keep up to date. Not only is it more beneficial internally, but it can reduce response time, and repetition for vendors, which of course will make them happy.
Applications and the Jury Process
We’ve seen many markets still handle their applications through the mail. sometimes it could be a form online, or a PDF that is printed and sent. This clearly isn’t ideal. The postal service isn’t infallible. It also tends to be slow. Mail can also be more difficult for vendors who are constantly on the road.
The jury process is often opaque. What are the requirements? If a vendor doesn’t get in, what can they do in the future to try again? Many markets don’t give out this info, let alone in a standardized way.
Software can do exactly that. You can build a form for vendor applications that can be completed entirely online. Accept digital versions of their work, that can be disseminated among jury members, allowing them more time to judge remotely. When jury members are often paid for single judging sessions, allowing them prep time to review entrants can save time and money for the market.
Layouts have evolved past printed out CAD drawings with booth numbers. You can use real map images for your outside venues. You can overlay different layers of booths, even adjust for different seasonal layouts or locations.
Using pencil and paper can present challenges. Moving booth locations. Re-assigning vendor assignments, or multiple layouts are frustratingly bad when you are having to make frequent changes.
Software can also make it more useful for multiple people to see what is going on, view visual reports, and make assignments simultaneously.
Many people say the same thing during their events post-mortem. “What worked and what didn’t?” A common practice is to send out post event survey’s to vendors. This is an undeniably great idea! Unfortunately, how do you send them? Mail? Too slow and inconvenient for traveling vendors. Digitally with something like SurveyMonkey? Too difficult to visualize data and import vendors.
A survey system integrated into your market’s management software solves these dilemmas and more. Think about being able to automate the sending of a survey as soon as your event wraps. All of that information can be integrated and viewed year-over-year for important changes.
It would also be great to view it visually, using your layouts to glean important information like hot spots in your market that tend to perform better than others. Maybe these statistically more lucrative locations could warrant a higher lease price. When you have the data to back it up, your vendors can appreciate it.
Sure, this isn’t a definitive list on how software utilization can turn around your fair or festival. Credit card acceptance, vendor profiles, product categorization, and vendor discovery are just a few of the other reasons that adopting an integrated platform can provide your market.
Very few other investments have the ability too transform this many areas of your business.
What are some other pain points that you see in your business? Let us know in the comments below!
BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.