If this is your first endeavor into the task of booking entertainment – don’t worry. This guide can help you understand some of the basic steps. For the seasoned pros out there, there may be some information here that you hadn’t considered before. So, relax and enjoy!
1. The Planning Stages
The first step in planning the entertainment for your party is to decide on as many of the specific details of the party as possible. This includes date, time, location, approximate number of guests etc. These are the kinds of questions that will be asked of you when first speaking with the potential entertainer.
Hiring an entertainer should not be a nightmarish struggle. It should be something that requires very little effort on your part, and yet yields potentially the greatest amount of guest enjoyment.
2. Type of Entertainment
What type of event are you planning? Is this a corporate event? Or is it a get-together with friends, Kitchen Tea or your child’s birthday party?
Regardless of the event, your entertainer is representing you at the party. This can be a great opportunity to show off without lifting a finger! People go to social functions and parties for lots of reasons – mingling, networking, good food, drinks, and to be entertained.
Who is your audience and what is the theme for the function? Depending on who the audience is and the theme you have chosen, some entertainment may be a better fit than others. Do you want fun, child focused, interactive entertainment, or slick, classy entertainers suited for corporates or an older audience? Will your guests be sitting or walking around? Is the event indoors or outdoors?
3. Choosing the Entertainment
Who are you going to call? Before you go reaching for those yellow pages and calling one number after another, let’s narrow this down a bit.
You could reach for the yellow pages, magazines or your local newspaper’s classified section – but in this age of technology, it’s much easier to search the world wide web (after all, that is how you found this page). The web can present much more in-depth information than a simple ad can present and can give you a chance to get a feel for the performer’s style and professionalism.
You can hire through an entertainment agency which (if reputable) are very selective with their entertainers and will save you a lot of worry since you can rest assured you’ll get a high standard of entertainment. It will cost slightly more than booking the entertainer directly but can be worth it. Often agents have quite a few options for whatever entertainment you’d like so you can ask for specifics and photos to be sure you’re getting what you want.
Some entertainers are very well established however and therefore take bookings directly. If they have a good website so you can see exactly what they do then you can be comfortable booking them directly.
Just be aware that entertainers and agents work on a first-come, first-serve basis. So, if you know what you want, it would do you well to inquire as to the availability as soon as possible. Note: some people book entertainers several months and even up to a year or more in advance of the event. However, inquiries made at least one month before the date of the event should still present a decent list of entertainers from which a selection can be made.
In this business, experience is the key. A knowledgeable performer and / or agency will listen to your needs, wants, and desires and be honest about what they can and can’t do for you in regards to what you want. They will be punctual and efficient and put you at ease that your requests will be taken care of.
4. The Initial Phone-Call
Typically, when you speak to an entertainer or agent for the first time in regards to bookings, they are probably going to ask you what kind of entertainment you are looking for, as well as the date and time of the event. They will ask you how many people will be there and how long of a time frame you need to fill.
They will also ask for other information such as your contact number and mailing information to send out a price quote and/or contract.
So what should you ask? You will want to know how much space he or she is going to need, equipment requirements and how much time the entertainer needs to set up if any.
If you want your event to go well, then know your budget and be reasonable when you set it. Also, be cautious of entertainers who offer much and present a quick price without really delving into your needs or those who have a catch-all fee, as your entertainment needs and desires may not be as great as their need to get a quick buck. Remember, “you get what you pay for.” After all, the entertainment you hire is a reflection on you.
When considering which entertainer or agent to use, it’s good to pay attention to the professionalism in their voice and conversation. They don’t have to sound like a corporate business executive, but they should sound like they know what they’re doing.
5. Agreements & Confirmations
The performer or agent you select should send you something in writing by mail fairly soon after you have spoken, in order to confirm all the details and price agreed upon.
Depending on the amount of time between the booking and event date, the performer or representing agent should call you to confirm that they will be there. It is just a courtesy call to be sure that their directions and details are correct.
If you don’t hear from your entertainer (or agent) and it’s the day before the event, you may want to place a quick call on the outside chance that they had the phone number wrong or simply couldn’t reach you.
Almost every agent and many performers will need a non-refundable deposit that ends up being some reasonable, but significant, portion of the total cost of the entertainer for your event.
The deposit basically is a protective monetary agreement that assures that you are indeed serious and definite about having this entertainer for your event, and guarantees you that (because we have your money) you will definitely have an entertainer for the time and date you requested. This practice prevents questionable situations where the entertainer may be tempted to take a higher-paying show in place of yours.
7. Day of the Event
The plans have been set, the entertainment booked, the guests invited… you are nervously thinking that something is bound to go wrong, somehow.
Well, don’t stress out! If, by chance, something doesn’t go the way you had planned, in most cases you’re the only one who will even notice. So, relax!
Generally you should only book the entertainer for a time well after the guests are to arrive as many guests trickle in to events and you don’t want them to miss the entertainment and most entertainers charge overtime if your event runs late. A safe rule of thumb is to have the entertainment begin at least an hour after the start of your event. (Exceptions include corporate functions where everyone is on a very clear schedule or small parties where you know your friends will arrive on time.)
There should be nothing here for you to worry about. The only thing you may be asked to do is to introduce the performer (if it is to be a stage or platform show) in which case the performer should already have a note-card, or such, with a brief introduction for you to read.
Once in a while, the performer will ask you, prior to the show, if there are any particular guests he or she should mention or pick as a volunteer during the show. Also, you may wish to ask the performer about good photo opportunities.
Other than that, sit back and enjoy the show!
Some entertainers and agencies request that you pay up front before the show begins or require cash payment on the day. A few are okay with payment after so make sure whichever it is, that it’s clear to both parties.
Should you tip? Tipping is not expected for entertainers unless you are having an authentic Middle Eastern party where it’s very acceptable to tip the belly dancers by placing bills in her belt on her hip. This is cultural and is usually planned beforehand.
10. The Follow-up
Most times, entertainers will ask you at the end of the evening, how you think it went. Please, be honest! If there was something that you didn’t like or thought should have been different, let them know as any good entertainer is eager to improve.
On the flip side, (and hopefully the far more common reaction) if you absolutely loved it and your guests were thrilled, tell them that too! Good feedback is very appreciated by entertainers and don’t forget to mention anything you particularly enjoyed.
But by far, the best form of showing your appreciation for the entertainer is to pass his name and number (or the agent’s if you’ve booked with an agency) along to your friends and fellow business associates. They will thank you (and sometimes give you a discount on future bookings) and you get the credit for giving your colleagues a good lead!
I hope the information above will be helpful in selecting entertainment for your event and has also served in putting to rest some of the apprehensions you may have had with this endeavor.