As an event planner, coordinator, designer or consultant, you come across challenges that are very unique. These types of challenges often fall outside your realm of expertise. Clients expect you to control and execute all areas of the event, at the same time. Accomplishing this can be a very daunting task, especially when it comes to areas which are entirely concept-based. Live entertainment is often one of these challenges. To assist you, here are six steps which will ensure success when booking live entertainment.
Get to know your client
- This should be the very first step in any area of your planning. One of the major errors event planners and producers make is diving in to find the best entertainment available. But right out the gate they have missed the first step, which is taking the time to understand who it is you’re working for. What do they do? What are their mandates and company values? A good example of this is a client who has strong policies about being “green”. Let’s say the event’s theme is “back to the streets”. You come up with an amazing pitch that includes a concept for live graffiti artists. Seems like the perfect idea right? Wrong! If you understood the client, you would have gone with break-dancers in grunge-styled clothing! There is nothing green about aerosol graffiti cans.
Clarify their taste
- When dealing with live entertainment, a failure doesn’t occur due to a bad performer or one who lacks skill. The main reason for a performer failing is simply because they did not suit the event. Most event planners start with the basics to get to know their audience: age, culture, gender etc. What often gets over looked is your client’s taste. Take their use of language with a grain of salt. If the clients requests entertainment that is ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’, make sure you get a good sense of what their idea of ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ actually is. Chances are, their tastes are much different than yours or mine. Ask them for examples, artists they like, etc.
Get reliable referrals
- With how accessible the Internet is, as well as how easy it is to manipulate, you can’t rely too heavily on a performer’s website. An amazing website and thousands of Facebook likes doesn’t make them first-rate on stage. If the act is local to you, ask trusted sources around you about them. In most markets, top-shelf talent is well known to the events community. If they are truly talented, chances are other suppliers and associates have heard of them. If they are not local, ask companies who do events similar to yours – ‘similar’ being the key word. If you are looking for a first-rate hip hop artist and your referrals speak to how well they play hard rock, you should probably keep looking.
Expect realistic outcomes
- Every client wants the most bang for their buck, a mentality which can cause problems. Clients will try to cram in too much of one element because they can afford it, and then the performance is no longer is effective. If a performer typically plays for a 15 minute set, it is because that is the ideal length for them. This means that you can’t ask them to do a 30-minute set and expect the same results. The same happens when you hire a DJ but give them very tight restrictions on their playlist, limiting their ability to perform for you. This is their job; let them do it.
Give them what they want
- If the key to your event is the grand finale performance that you’ve booked, coordinated, rehearsed, and spent a big chunk of your client’s money – keep the performers happy! Yes, give them what they want. Sure some acts can be difficult, and their requests may seem ridiculous and insignificant to you, but their happiness affects the outcome of their performance. Follow their rider and contract requests, and if you can go above and beyond to keep them happy, definitely do it. Live entertainment is service-driven, but unlike food, flowers and trusses with lights on them, your performer is a real person. Their emotions show on stage.
Align with reputable companies
- It would surprise you how many high-profile events use unknown entertainment suppliers. An office, fax line, receptionist, contract, backup systems, and emergency lines to call – these are all supplier services that come along with the performing act. These services are the insurance that the live entertainment at your event goes as smoothly as possible. These services are hugely important and not to be overlooked, especially when spending the time and finances required to book quality entertainment