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First Bridal Show Convention as a Vendor


SummerSun
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I am seeking advice or suggestions from bakers who have experience running a booth at a bridal expo or convention. I will rent my first booth this June and it is not a cheap affair. Does anyone have a word or two of wisdom or insight?

Thanks so much!

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Mini cupcakes are easier to handle and serve than slicing and plating cakes if you are giving out samples. With the cupcakes, you can do a simple swirl of frosting and arrange them on a tiered stand for people to help themselves to and have a stack of napkins nearby. If you go with cake, you have to slice and plate it, provide forks, etc. If you have lots of help, it isnt' a problem, if you are alone, cupcakes give you more time to interact with people.

Stick to two flavors - one chocolate, one not; stay away from nuts (hazelnut, etc) if you can. Have a list of your available flavors so people can see what the range is. Try to sample something a little out of the ordinary - most people know what strawberry or raspberry buttercream tastes like but may not have had passionfruit or caramel buttercream. Sample your best stuff or your most popular flavor.

Have plenty of business cards. Have several stand-up portfolio books to show your work. Put one at each end of your table(s) so you don't have two people hogging a book at any one time.

Put your dummy cakes on stands, preferably out of reach of curious minds and fingers but take pictures of your cake dummies before you put them out in case the worst happens. You don't have to do huge dummies, but make them eye catching. One traditional looking and one out of the ordinary. Try to make your booth noticeable by adding height or color, or lights. Also show a non-wedding cake - some of the brides will get their cake through their hotel and therefore aren't in the market for a cake (but they'll taste anyway :wink: - but they can use you for other events and celebrations and you can plant that seed now.

Have a trash bin close at hand otherwise your table will be littered with napkins or plates or what have you.

Most brides are so overwhelmed with the stuff they get in the bags, they usually just throw it out. But they keep things like coupons or pens, or magnets..... make your business card into a magnet to hand out.

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Just a guy talkin' here, but what about groom cake examples and table favors (petit four, etc). And could you pull off mini-cupcakes and keep them moist enough to be good. I'm just thinking about Jeanne's comment about visitors being overwhelmed - how many pieces of cake will they want to shove in their mouths...they're trying to fit into that dress, remember!

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Brides tend to travel in packs which include mothers, maid of honor, sisters, aunts, the whole cast of characters. And everyone wants to taste :smile: . You don't want to run out of samples, but you also don't want to take tons back with you. Find out how many are registered for the show, figure out if there are other bakers or others providing food and go from there. The last time I did an event like this, it was an an upscale downtown hotel, big name sponsor, more than 250 people were registered and I did 600 mini cupcakes. They were gone in about 30 minutes (this event was planned like a reception - people had drinks first, then apps, then the main course and they came back out for dessert. I was the only baker so I made more than enough, so I thought. The hotel came out with petit fours and mini pastries - one bite things -just as the cupcakes ran out. :cool:

If you are the only one in your booth, you can't serve and sell at the same time; if you have help, you can let the other person cut and serve cake while you talk to clients. If you are having family or friends help you, talk about what you want them to say in response to some standard questions: price range, delivery charges, flavors, etc.

I agree about the groom's cake - do a Texas Aggies cake design or Texas A&M and you'll be golden :biggrin:

PS - Because most of the brides attending this event were having their reception at a downtown hotel, most of them already had their wedding cake arranged. I got very few orders from that event - not enough to break even. I stopped doing these events because my expenses in booth rental, providing samples, etc just didn't make it worth the return.

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When I do samples, I use portion cups (small plastic cups, with lids). I ice a sheet cake, cut them into small sample pieces, put them into the cups, squirt a little filling on the side, and lid them. I slap a sticker w/my company info on the lid, and chuck 'em in a box. Heck, I've even frozen them. They don't dry out. They don't get confused with other people's samples, and they feel strange about taking 50 of them apiece. ;) They stack nicely for display, and they transport nicely, and I don't have to have anyone serving them. Never once had a complaint about my samples - and now the other vendors are doing them that way too.

For dummies, I do several contemporary cakes, and a traditional one or two.

I have several photo albums, a "consultation request form", brochures, biz cards, etc. on the tables.

I usually have my laptop running a powerpoint slideshow hooked to a TV (our booth gets PACKED cuz we do cakes, and catering.) so that people can see our photos/get our info w/out coming into our booth to see the albums/talk to us.

I also find that setting tables into a "U" shape, versus the standard "table across the front" works nicer. People feel invited to come into the "u" and interact, versus stopping at the front table, which can be initmidating.

More later as I think of them!

~Lisa

www.TheCakeAndTheCaterer.com

Bloomington, IN

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