Tuesday, October 26, 2021

DNP: Photo booth serendipity

Innovative FOTO kiosks help visitors preserve the memory with minimal contact risk

By Judith Rubin

ABOVE: DNP photo kiosk can place guests in a variety of environments with ease. All photos by DNP

Attractions are doing their best to reopen – and then stay open – to safely receive, serve and entertain visitors in today’s altered environment. Due to changes wrought by the pandemic, some aspects of the guest experience have suddenly lost their application or relevance. Operators have been experimenting with new products and technologies, site configurations and other solutions. But some things have kept their currency and not had to change – such as the tried-and-true, guest-operated photo booth.

The humble photo booth (or not-so-humble, depending on the technology investment made by the operator) remains a classic element of a day at the park, museum or zoo. In today’s changed world it has retained and arguably increased its utility and value for guests and operators alike.

Taking and posing for souvenir photos, whether solo or with friends or family, is an inherent part of the guest experience at an attraction. In addition to the fun of the experience itself, visitors gain a shareable takeaway and the option to order additional, high-quality prints. Preserving the memory of the day or the visit in photos is as essential as ever, if not more so, as outings with family and friends have become more novel and important.

Yet photo opportunities are more restricted due to social distancing requirements and protective measures for guests and staff. You can’t get close to characters; you can’t get close to photographers. But you and your group can use the photo booth or kiosk to capture the moment, the feeling and the sense of place.

Innovative FOTO, a leader in the field, reports that its customized photo booths and kiosks are getting ample use in zoos, aquariums, museums, science centers, theme parks, retail venues and various small attractions in the US that have resumed operations in recent months [see sidebar for a partial list].

Call it serendipity. Innovative FOTO reports that their photo booths, supported by a whole-product business model, are showing themselves an excellent fit with the needs of attractions and their guests today – whether the traditional style booth, the fancy PGS greenscreen kiosk or the company’s new, freestanding kiosk with Background Segmentation technology, installed in August 2020 at the Texas State Aquarium. Being freestanding and compact, the kiosk can be installed in high traffic areas; the technology allows guests to select a custom background and apply a custom filter, with no need for an actual greenscreen or to enter a confined space. 

Ed Stewart, DNP

All models, according to Innovative FOTO Director of Sales Ed Stewart, are fully guest-operated with no need for staff contact, and branded to the venue. “Our in-house graphics department works closely with each client to customize the look of each booth or kiosk and the photo backdrop choices,” said Stewart. The units are also fully monitored and serviced by the company’s maintenance fleet, which is 300 strong in the US. “They are all connected wirelessly, so that software upgrades can be handled from the home office and real-time information is transmitted to the service techs,” said Stewart. Maintenance also includes a regular, 19-step deep cleaning process, and the design of the kiosks makes it simple for operators to clean regularly through the day, Stewart explained. Some venues own their units outright, but most opt for a lease arrangement.

Guests can print photos immediately as the booths are integrated with DNP printers utilizing dye sublimation technology, a non-smudging, dry technique that diffuses dye onto paper and produces a long-lasting matte or glossy print. Access to view and download the photos to save, share online and to order additional, high-quality prints is provided to each user with a code to input at http://blababooth.com/ (recently updated to streamline and improve the user experience). This part of the process is also completely handled by Innovative FOTO.

As to the enduring value of souvenir photo prints in a digital age, those professional, custom prints from vacations, staycations and special occasions may well be the only physical photos on display in many households nowadays. (If you are over a certain age, you may have noticed that the collection in your photo album ended suddenly in the 1990s.)

Even in these economically challenging times, Stewart reports that some Innovative FOTO customers are finding it worthwhile to expand their photo booth offerings. Photo booth technology is a relatively inexpensive way for operators to reinvest in their property and catch the notice of visitors. “We’ve been working with partners on getting booths in new locations for them, or upgrading existing booths, with an understanding of their current needs and situation,” he said. “Some attractions are doing exceptionally well in these times. Booths located outdoors have more wear and tear. And a new or upgraded photo booth can tie into and help draw attention to a new attraction or feature at the venue. It can also be updated with the seasons and holidays.”

About Innovative FOTO

Innovative FOTO was founded in 1995 and is the largest full-service designer, manufacturer, operator and distributor of digital imaging photo kiosks in the United States, with over 2,000 booths in North America. The company supports thousands of booths at a variety of venues worldwide, yielding nearly 30 million interactions annually. Innovative FOTO merged with DNP Imagingcomm America Corporation (DNP IAM) in 2020. For more information, please visit https://www.innovativefoto.com/.

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A partial list of venues currently open for business with existing Innovative FOTO photo booths or kiosks

Six Flags Great Adventure – Jackson, NJ

Kennywood Park – West Mifflin, PA

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – Tampa, FL

Pacific Park – Santa Monica, CA

Downtown Aquarium – Denver, CO

Texas State Aquarium – Corpus Christi, TX

Blue Zoo Aquarium – Spokane, WA

Oklahoma Aquarium – Jenks, OK

Denver Zoo – Denver, CO

Franklin Park Zoo – Boston, MA

Jacksonville Zoo – Jacksonville, FL

Stone Zoo – Stoneham, MA

Space Center Houston – Houston, TX

Museum of Science – Oklahoma City, OK

International Spy Museum – Washington, DC

St. Louis Science Center – St. Louis, MO

Harbor Walk – Destin, FL

The Gulf Orange Beach – Orange Beach, AL

Rainforest Café – Grapevine, TX

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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