Entertainment for a Holiday Event…3 Common Booking Mistakes!

I’ve learned to predict the future. From the first phone call with a potential client, I can instantly tell you who’s going to have a great event,. Just as importantly, I can usually tell you who isn’t. I’ve been the featured entertainment at holiday events for over 20 years and have learned there are three areas in the event planning process that if overlooked, will almost always cause disappointment.

1. Budget

grumpy cat budget memeBefore you dare pick up a phone, ask yourself, “What quality level do I want?” I could write a whole post on this one topic (in fact, I already did if you’d like to read it). Remember, you’re booking entertainment in what is considered among professional entertainers as the busiest time of year. My October through December is out of control. So if these are in demand days, you can’t bring a small budget to the table. One thing that I recommend to anyone planning a holiday event…and most people will not do this…is make the entertainment a top priority. Most of the time, it’s an afterthought, which brings me to….

2. Entertainment should be booked in the beginning of the planning. 

I learned from a few corporate event planners that for major events, entertainment is the third thing booked. Date…Venue…Entertainment! With repeat clients, I’m often booked BEFORE the venue. I’ve even been called on numerous occasions to SELECT the date that worked best for me. The punchline is that every single one of those events, without exception, would rank among my best events. Things like food, drinks, tables and chairs, and decorations are all important, but every single one of those are secondary. In many cases those can even be booked last minute. Book the entertainer first!

Now, I’m not saying abort the mission of entertainment before you start. If you get the idea to book entertainment the week of the event, you may get luck and time it just right. However, don’t be surprised if the best entertainers are already booked.

3. Don’t try to figure it all out…lean on the entertainer for suggestions.

peter griffin memeOk, I get it. This is your event and you’ve probably got it pictured a certain way. But trust me, if you’ve booked a professional entertainer, they WILL have suggestions and some may exceed your wildest expectations. You have to be willing to appeal to a higher authority on the subject.

I recently did a show near Hilton Head. Against my very clear instructions to not have a dance floor between the stage and the audience, I arrived and there was the dance floor. This would effectively separate me from the audience by nearly 40 feet. I brought in the event coordinator, the client and the CEO himself and explained why this would be a disaster. Reluctantly, they put a few tables and chairs on the dance floor to fill in the very large gap. When I walked off the stage that night…to a thunderous standing ovation, the client came over and hugged me. She then said, “I will never doubt any suggestion you give me about any other event.” And if that wasn’t enough, while backstage, the CEO came behind the curtain to shake my hand and tell me that my performance made the whole event.

If you trust my experience while reading this, then believe me when I say that those two compliments would’ve never taken place if the client hadn’t appealed to my experience.

In conclusion…

Every now and then, I’ll get pushback on all of these. Remember, if a client takes my suggestions, whatever happens is a reflection of me. If I’m a major part of the event, then the last thing I want is for something to go wrong. I may sound like I have definite ideas. It’s simply because in my more than 20 years, I just know what works. If I can be candid, it’s why I have some clients booking me 10 years in a row. I wish you the very best with your holiday events!