The never-ending desire for a cool selfie has enabled Danielle May to turn her orange 1974 Volkswagen bus into a business.
May, who worked two decades in the luxury goods industry, initially bought the bus for camping.
Two years ago, she installed a photo booth inside her retro vehicle, spawning a business as people jumped at the chance to get their photo in an unusual setting.
May receives a few booking requests a week for weddings and other events, both personal and corporate.
“It wouldn’t be a business without the photo booth,” she said while showing off her retro vehicle at the appropriately named Photo Booth Expo.
More than 4,000 people are expected to attend the three-day trade show at South Point this week to see the latest photo booth technology and accessories and learn how they can follow May’s path to launching a successful business.
The trade show, which ends Wednesday, was preceded by two days of educational seminars including how to start a photobooth business and how to incorporate social media.
Photo Booth Expo features 130 exhibitors selling goods including backgrounds for selfies — such as the New York City skyline and “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign — and the hardware and software necessary to snap the moment and instantly post it on social media.
The industry has grown over the past five years as more people rent photo booths for personal events — such as birthdays and weddings — and companies start to use them as a marketing or team-building tool.
“Where aren’t they today? I see them everywhere, at restaurants, shops,” May said.
The number of exhibitors at Photo Booth has risen threefold since the expo was first held in 2015. Underscoring the industry’s young age, many of the companies exhibiting this week were founded just a few years ago.
Mark Hennings, co-founder of Simple Booth, which sells and rents photo booth technology to companies and entreprenuers, said buyers of photo booths “need to be creative” in how they set up the experience.
Simple Booth showed off the photo booth the company installed inside a Telsa showroom model to help the automaker generate more customer engagement and sales.
The photos, which feature a company’s logo in a corner, are sent to customers after they enter their email or telephone number. That enables companies to receive personal information for follow-up, May said.
“I am capturing their information so that I am driving the result of them booking me and not waiting for them to remember about me or find my business card,” she said.
Wynn Resorts Ltd. is also a Simple Booth customer, but it uses the product for employee events rather than customer engagement, co-founder Jeremy Cox said.
Many of the photo booths on display consist of a tablet, often an iPad, surrounded by a light ring that creates a soft and uniform exposure compared with the harsh light from a phone.
The software program that comes installed in the photo booths allows users to add virtual mustaches, hats and other accessories before emailing or texting it to themselves.
Bob Lindquist, a spokesman for the show, said the industry is so young and growing so rapidly that there is no hard data yet on its size.