Hiring entertainment for an event is a huge responsibility no matter how big or small. Whether you are the PTA mom planning their child’s birthday or an executive at a fortune 500 company, the enjoyment of every attendee falls on your shoulders.
You want people to thank you for the entertainment, not blaming you for it. Also, there can be an enormous about of stress involved if you do not hire the right person at the right time.
To avoid the stress and ensure your success as the event Booker, here are the 5 biggest mistakes when booking entertainment:
5. Anyone Will Do
Some coordinators feel that magicians are interchangeable. Often times, we look alike, sound alike and dress alike. Some of us even use the same tricks (because they are THAT good). However, despite our similarities, every magician is different because we all bring something personal to the table.
The fact is, we are not interchangeable. You need to find the right PERSON for your event. The tricks we perform are secondary to the experiences we create. You want an entertainer who is personable, relatable and will go out of their way to make sure everyone is having a good time. After you’ve found those qualities in a magician, then you can ask what kind of tricks we do.
I recently did a job for a temple in Laguna Nigel where the coordinator had mixed responses from their guests about the last magician they hired for their event the year before. She said everyone loved his magic, but they did not like his personality. I was told he was very abrasive and full of himself. Whether he was or not is irrelevant. That is how the attendees interpreted his performance and their interpretation is always right. This is why I always strive to be the nicest person I can be and make my magic about the people watching it, rather than making it about how great I am.
Hire the person, not tricks.
4. Bargain Shopping
There are many websites out there that guarantee low rates for performers. Even though I am on one of these websites, I would advise against them. I set up a profile so people searching for entertainment can have one more opportunity to find me. Some performers rely solely on these sites. They are usually the part time guys or the hobbyist looking to make a few bucks.
If you chose to look on one of these websites (they come up in Google before anything else), then be very careful and make sure to look over the performer’s profile and website thoroughly.
As we all know (but don’t talk about), we get what we pay for. It is better to pay a little more and be thrilled with the results than pay less and be disappointed.
3. Afterthought Bookings
Often times, the person charged with hiring the entertainment is the same person responsible for setting up the entire event. I have been to hundreds of events where I watched the coordinator scrambling to resolve problems that could have easily been avoided if they planned a little earlier.
You should enjoy the event just as much as your guests. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the coordinate saunter around the event, laughing and having a good time. It means I have done my job as the entertainer and all other vendors are doing their jobs, keeping the event running smoothly and orderly.
When you are responsible for the entire event, you have so many things on your plate, hiring the entertainment seems like the last priority. It is one of the easiest jobs to do, or so it seems. As I’ve said, you need the right person for the right job and that requires research and planning.
Sometimes, you can’t book and entertainer because you are waiting for a board decision on the type of entertainment for your event or there are other logistical things you must set up first. Maybe your venue doesn’t have a stage, so a stage magician is out of the question. Perhaps there are a bunch of speeches to made, which means you have to figure out the schedule before you can hire an entertainer to fill in the gaps.
Another reason to decide on entertainment early on in the process is so you can budget accordingly. Every magician comes with a different price tag. We all value our services differently for various reasons.
Whatever the reason, do not let entertainment become an afterthought. It is just as important as deciding what food is to be served.
2. Products Vs. Services
One of the worst questions you can ask a magician is, “What do you do?” The average magician does not understand that they are providing a service – not selling a product. They are very different things.
Products are something tangible. You can take a product home with you and show it to your friends later.
A service is ephemeral. It exists only in the time it takes to perform it. Even watching a magician on YouTube does not fully capture the experience you will have when watching them live.
When a client asks me, “What do you do,” I tell them a story. I tell them about the time a client hired me to perform at a Montessori school at which she was the director. She hired a magician before who did not show up to her school on the scheduled day. The kids were devastated. Lucky, this magician was not a true professional to begin with (I assume) because he didn’t even ask for a deposit. So, at least she didn’t lose any money. That should have been red-flag-number-one! I sympathized with her and gave her my word I will show up 30 minutes early on the day of the event and I can provide a list of references to back me up. Knowing the experience she had before, I made it a point to stop into the school a few days before the show just to introduce myself. Showing your face can be a very comforting thing to a new client. They need to know you are a real person! I showed 45 minutes early, which gave me time to chat with the director before the show and the kids had a wonderful time. Even the teachers were saying how much fun they had. The kids got to come up and help with the tricks and some of them even got a little souvenir during the show. Afterwards, my client thanked me for doing such a bang-up job. I, then, thanked her for taking a chance by booking another magician.
That is what I do. I make people happy and I put people at ease. Notice how I didn’t mention my tricks at all. In the end, they don’t really matter. What matters is how you and your guests feel before, during, and after the event.
1. Trust The Experts
In short, I have been to thousands of events throughout my career. I have seen some be very successful and other crash and burn. I know you may have planned dozens, maybe even a few hundred events over your career as an activities director, but you need to take into account the experience of the performers you hire. We know how to put on a good show. We know the best places for people to sit. We know it is better to feed your guests before the show and not during. We know the best time during your event to have the show. We know the finer details you don’t have time to worry about. Let us worry about them. Let us take the lead when making the tough choices. It is better to let us handle it because we also know how difficult your job is and we respect you for it. We are here to help you look good. Please, let us.
Do you agree with my list? Leave a comment
and tell us some other things event planners should consider!