Hiring quality entertainment for your holiday party can be a daunting and frustrating task, but it doesn’t have to be. Veteran entertainer Malik Haddadi shares some great tips to help you through the process.
- Go with an experienced performer
The best asset a professional entertainer can offer you is knowledge and experience. As someone who regularly attends events of all types, an entertainer can be a great resource. Experience also helps to ensure that the performance will be great even if the conditions aren’t ideal.
Don’t be afraid to ask your entertainer for suggestions about how to make your event a success. Appropriate show length, timing and performance placement are all topics your performer can help you with (and may help you figure out details you hadn’t thought of).
- Hire direct or at least do your homework.
Many party planning agencies will also offer entertainment as a convenience to their clients. While the time saved is certainly tempting, you can’t always guarantee who you will get. If you do let the planner or agency book entertainment for you, they shouldn’t approach it with a generic attitude. “We have an arrangement with one of the best magicians/comedians/entertainers in the area and we’ll get him/her for your party,” is the proper approach. A party planner or agency should be able to tell you who they are getting for you, and should be able to provide you with information about the performer’s experience and the nature of the show.
Hiring the act yourself has benefits as well. You’ll be dealing directly with the entertainer, allowing you to vet him or her on your own. Since party planners typically add their own fees on top of what the performer charges, there is a possibility to save some money by hiring direct. Lastly, you’ll be able to gauge how reliable they will be, based on how quickly and professionally they respond to your inquiry.
- Budget appropriately
As a professional corporate entertainer, budget is the issue I run into the most. As with most services, you get what you pay for. Oftentimes clients are unaware of what entertainment actually costs, or how much of their budget should be devoted to entertainment. Think about it this way:
A good performer can be the most memorable part of your event, so it makes sense to budget appropriately. Food, decorations, and a great venue are essential to the success of the event, but a fantastic entertainer will frequently be the part your guests remember for years to come. Your budget should reflect that.
Entertainment is an industry where cheap is rarely good and good is never cheap. The best approach is to contact your potential entertainer(s) first to get a sense of actual cost, then plan your budget accordingly. If you haven’t hired professional entertainment before, it might cost more than you think it will, but if you do your due diligence, it will all be worth it.
Any decent professional entertainer will have reviews and testimonials, often right on his or her website. Feel free to ask for references and video if it’s appropriate for the type of entertainment you are hiring. Also, don’t be afraid to contribute to the process. If your entertainer asks for a review, supplying honest feedback is helpful to both the performer, and any future clients. Good entertainers constantly strive to do better.
- Respect the Rider
A contract rider is a document attached to the performance contract that spells out additional items or considerations required by the performer. This can include anything from travel, accommodations and meal requirements, to microphone and sound equipment. It can only help with the success of the event if you follow and respect the rider. Supplying the items in the rider is something that you should also factor in when considering your budget. Some entertainers, like myself, have minimal requirements in the rider, but the specifics can vary based on the act and the circumstances.
- Book Early
The one trick no performer has mastered, even a magician, is how to be in 2 places at once. Holiday parties especially tend to happen on weekends, and there are a limited number of time slots available. Booking early will help to ensure you get the entertainer you want for your event. If a performer is unavailable for one particular time, see when they could be at your event. Professional entertainers often have networks of other excellent performers. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to another act if the one you want isn’t available.
Save money by being flexible with scheduling.
Weekends are prime time for party service professionals, and we love to be busy. You can sometimes get a better rate at a non-premium time just by asking. Consider scheduling your event on a Thursday night or even during an afternoon and save yourself some money. Some companies also choose to have their holiday parties in the off season, like January or February to ensure best availability and pricing of venue and services. Also, do you manage more than one event in a year? Some performers will give you a better rate if you are willing to bring them in multiple times. And keep in mind many entertainers have different service offerings that might fit multiple events. For example, a comedian, magician, or juggler might also offer speaking or training programs.
Planning your event may not be easy, but it will be worth it. Let your entertainment help make it a success. Happy planning!