How Fairs and Festivals can Utilize Technology to Solve their Biggest Problems

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.

Vendor Communications

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.

Layout Management

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.

Post-Event Surveys

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.

Wrap Up

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.

4 Tips to Help Flea Markets Embrace Technology

Utilize technology to get the most out of your market.

Flea Markets, while not alone in their intricacies, are still very much like other businesses. Large and small. Yet, many swap meet proprietors shun standards in technology that they really shouldn’t.
Technology has become an essential part of all businesses and it is important to break through the swell of companies fighting for your attention. So lets go back to basics and take a look at four tips every business should be aware of when considering technology.

1) Mobile is Important

It is crucial not to underestimate this tip. These days mobile is king and you have to be sure your business is ready to handle that. I don’t mean you need to rush out and have a mobile app created especially for your market, but there are easy and cheap ways to cater to todays consumer.
For instance, your website (you have a website, right?) should be responsive. That means it adjusts automatically based on the device people have. That way it fits on small phones, big phones, tablets, or computers. If you don’t have a mobile friendly site, users can’t access the information they need which can lead to frustration, the inability find your market, and a negative perception of your brand.
This isn’t a huge endeavor as a lot of the web design companies like GoDaddy, WIX, and others all now support responsive designs right out of the gate and are quite affordable.
With a mobile-optimized site your customers can find your market higher in search rankings, find operating hours and vendor information quickly and easily, or get directions. Alongside your website, take a look at your social media accounts, your Google Maps listing, and Yelp page.  These are crucial to improve your web presence.

2) Know your Data

Analytics are imperative and can help you really understand your flea market. You can get as fancy and sophisticated as you’d like. Want to know how many visitors you have each operating day? How many vendors you have? Which days are bringing in the most revenue? Which food items and your concessions are proving to be most popular? All can be tracked and reported on to help you make informed decisions and run your business more efficiently. Its important when looking at your software it isn’t just about functionality, but what data, insights, or reports you can glean from the system.

3) You don’t have to Break the Bank, but don’t be Cheap

It may be appealing to cheap out on technology, but in the long run, it isn’t worth it. Technology can really drive your flea market. Not just from the consumer side (where they can learn about your market, find hours, reviews, and directions), but from the vendor side as well. You are trying to attract two different groups of people and you want to remove any frustration for either of them.
For instance, without technology, when a vendor would like to reserve a booth for the weekend, it requires an employee to find available booths on those specific days, adjust the cost based on location and amenities, have the proper paperwork and contracts signed, all of which is cumbersome, time consuming, and error-prone. In today’s world, reservations can be made in advance online. Reducing mistakes, decreasing signup time, and freeing your employees to focus on other pressing matters.
If you choose cheap tech, that process won’t be smooth. Customers or vendors will be met with errors, long loading times, and often can cause more frustration than they are alleviating. Some good software, an iPad, and a few apps can be affordable and change the way you do business.

4) Its a Bird! Its a Plane! Its the Cloud!

Do you keep your data stored locally? Do you have a recent backup? Do you have an offsite backup? Data storage can be one of the most expensive and important parts of your markets tech arsenal. You need more than just an external hard drive, you need multiple backups on an offsite in case the worst should happen.
There is s bevy of information you should be retaining like transaction history, agreements/contracts, orders, and vendor rental history. An ideal solution would keep these all together, encrypted, and backed up.
Cloud solutions like BoothBooks help make that process easier, and more secure. All data is securely encrypted over SSL and backed up regularly. Ensuring if your hardware ever fails, the only thing you need to be back up and running is your closest web browser.

Get Going!

Embracing this list of technology basics for your flea market or swap meet can really modernize your business. Shoppers have a better experience, vendors have more customers and a speedier registration process, you are protecting your customers and vendors data, and you have new data insights to make informed decisions to help run your business. Combined, you will have a flourishing market and increasing profits while not having to break the bank.
BoothBooks is an affordable way to get started with technology. A clean and easy to use interface works across a variety of platforms like computers, tablets, and phones. Sign up to learn more and get started for free to see how easy you can integrate cutting edge technology into your flea market.