Booking Entertainment? 5 things you should know…

Are you booking entertainment for an event?  Perhaps you are looking at the Christmas Party or some after dinner entertainment for a conference next year?  You may have a Client Networking event that you want to “spice up” or perhaps you are looking for something for your Wedding..

Regardless, next to the Venue, (and possibly the food) the entertainment is probably going to be the most talked about component of the event.  So, it can make the difference between something that is talked about and remembered for weeks and months to come or something that is instantly forgotten.  The pressure is on and you start researching what you could have that will fit the bill…

 

5 factors that may make you choose the wrong entertainment:

 

1. Price

Apart from budgetary reasons, the cost of the entertainment should never be an option.  This may sound like a strange statement, but  you may make a decision on one entertainer over another purely based on their cost. If this is the case,  then you can pretty much bet that you are going to come unstuck.

As a mindreader, I am  lucky because there are not many of us around and we all pretty much charge a similar fee (I’m not counting the magicians that do “some mindreading” – that is like booking a pub singer because he can sing Nessun Dorma and expecting him to be brilliant in your operatic recital).  Consequently, I rarely have people contact me and compare my price to another mindreader.  I must admit to being a little thrown last Christmas when I was speaking to a potential client. After I quoted my fee she said “Oh, don’t worry.  I have spoken to a magician who is cheaper than you!”  Of course you can find someone cheaper – in fact, if you look hard enough, I’m pretty sure you could find someone that will do it for free or next to nothing!  The question is – are they any good?  In my experience, the minimum fee you can expect to pay for a good magician or mindreader is £500+.  Now, of course, you can get a magician for cheaper.  But generally speaking, put a £300 magician next to a £600 magician and you can very clearly see why you are paying the difference.

2. Website

It is easy to get a good website these days relatively cheaply. This makes it is really hard to judge how good someone is purely based on it.  There was even a case a couple of years ago of a mindreader (I don’t think he works much now) who was found out when it was spotted that most of the photos on his website of him in the company of “celebrities were actually taken at Madame Tussauds!  The ones that weren’t had been photoshopped to include him in them.

3. Testimonials

Most websites are littered with them (I have quite a few on my own website). The problem is – how do you know if they are genuine or just made up by the entertainer?  One of the major problems that I have is that I get really nice feedback and testimonials from well known companies. Unfortunately, they then won’t allow their name to be used because it is politically incorrect for them to have “entertainment” at their events.  Consequently, I have to put “corporate client” instead of the company name, which is nowhere near as impressive.  But I have spoken to other entertainers who quite openly have admitted to making up the testimonials on their website.

4. Video

Whilst video can be good indication of a performer, again you have to bear in mind that those fantastic reactions that you see on film could have been staged entirely for the benefit of the camera.  Quite a few well known youtube magicians have been caught out recently using friends in their films, with the reactions being completely fake.  The other thing to bear in mind is that they may use editing and camera tricks to enhance what they do.  It is also very different filming a piece to camera with a couple of people on the street to working a busy room at a networking event.

5. Recommendations

Ok- I know this is counterintuitive (especially as 90% of my enquiries come from this source) and of course recommendations are invaluable, but I just wanted to point out a couple of things to bear in mind.

  • Does the person recommending the act have a similar taste to you?  My brother and I have very similar tastes in music, film, art and theatre and I know if he recommends something to me I am going to like it.  However, my wife and I have very different tastes (particularly in films) and what she says is brilliant may well seem really boring to me)
  •  Are they qualified to recommend someone.  Many an amateur magician gets his head turned when someone says to them “you are brilliant – the best magician I have ever seen, you should definitely be on the TV”.  The chances are that they are the ONLY magician they have ever seen so have nothing to compare them to.
  •  Have they seen them in a similar environment to the one that you are booking the entertainment for?  A close up magician may be fantastic, but are they going to be able to cope with standing on stage and performing a show to 300 people?

So – by all means check out a website, look at videos, read testimonials and listen to trusted friends and colleagues.  But by far the best way to judge is to meet the entertainer and see what they do.  I appreciate this may be difficult if the act is a high wire trapeze act, but it is very easy if it is magician or a mindreader.

I think one of the difficulties with my sort of entertainment is that very few people would think of it independently, yet, when they see it, it gets a far stronger reaction than a magician.  I am always more than happy to come to a meeting to show a potential client what I do – because invariably, when they see it – they want it!
If you can’t meet with the entertainer – at least have a chat to them on the phone as it is much easier to ask the relevant questions regarding experience, previous clients etc (it is much harder to lie on the phone than when hiding behind a computer screen.
Don’t forget – the entertainment is often a key component of an event.  Make sure you get something that will add to it and not be an embarrassment!
Have a good week.
Alex