Choosing the Right Entertainment


More tips
 If you are hiring a celebrity to perform,  be sure to include a specific  audience meet-and-greet time in your contract. Specify how long the meet-and-greet session will last.

 Items such as CDs and T-shirts featuring the performer make great attendee gifts; for larger events, artists might offer a discounted rate for such products.

Curb Comedy Gaffes 
Comedy in any type of business setting can be risky, so proceed with caution when lining up a funny act. Be sure your contract has a rider that outlines any specific requirements -- e.g., keeping jokes family friendly or steering clear of making the CEO or industry the target of humor.

Selecting entertainment to enhance or complement an event can be a daunting experience. Even the most seasoned planner likely will experience a misfire at one time or another.

Choosing entertainment involves traditional planning considerations such as budget and logistics, along with the need to incorporate the company culture and C-suite preferences. The following best practices will ensure your event entertainment is always on key.

Having a huge entertainment budget doesn't guarantee a great event. Imagination and careful selection of the right performers will give you far greater impact.

However, in certain situations, it might be worth reallocating funds from a different budget line (perhaps décor or food and beverage) to secure a top-dollar entertainer. For example, if you think a particular comedian would draw significantly more registrants, or a Nobel Prize speaker would bring in a higher-caliber audience, the result might justify the investment.

While staying true to your themes and objectives should remain your foremost goal, keep in mind the audience demographics (origin/location, age, occupation, etc.) and psychographics (attitude and aspiration) when selecting entertainment. Many smart planners have chosen a lively upbeat performer who is regionally and/or age-inappropriate. Similarly, we've all faced pressure from higher-ups to bring in trendy entertainment or a group they want to see, with little regard for how the audience will react. Think through the overall impact the entertainer will have before signing on the dotted line.

Once you have the audience and goals defined, assess your logistical parameters. How much time do you have for entertainment? How much space? Do you need a green room for the performers or celebrity to get ready? Can your schedule and budget afford rehearsals and sound checks? Does your facility have a stage? Are there any noise/sound restrictions for amplified music?

Now that so many deejays have become celebrities in their own right, choosing live musicians over recorded sound is less of an automatic preference. A super-hot deejay can be as big a draw as live bands -- and just as costly.

Consider opting for a deejay if space is limited or if the venue doesn't have a stage. Another advantage is that deejays can cater to a wide variety of musical styles. Besides their spinning skills, many also can double as moderators or emcees for the event.

Then again, nothing beats the energy of a live band and the additional perk of a rock star meet-and-greet with your VIPs.

Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM,  is an event producer and writer who specializes in strategic global event marketing. She is based in Pacifica, Calif.