10 Tips for Engaging Entertainers

Entertainment is an important component of many corporate events. To ensure that it comes off flawlessly, here are some of the things to keep in mind:

  1. Be sure that the proposal and contract clearly outline the program including start  time, end time and call times for cast and crew.
  2. To prevent surprises, be sure to ask entertainers to clearly identify all requirements in proposals and contracts. Don't forget to include:
  • Entertainmentset-up time required
  • number of vehicles and parking spaces required
  • what AV the entertainers will provide
  • other AV requirements
  • staging (dimensions and positioning)
  • dance floor (determine if it is required)
  • lighting
  • blackout curtains
  1. Always ask about food and beverage requirements and ensure that entertainers specify what they need clearly in the contract. For one of the first corporate events I organized, entertainment was after dinner. As the cast was all from in-town and the call time wasn't until 7 PM, I assumed they would eat before they arrived and that only cool beverages would be required. On the day of the event, I was approached late in the afternoon and asked about dinner. Nothing had been requested in the contract or at any time. It was to late to ask the client to pay for it. To ensure that I didn't have an unhappy cast, I had to provide funds out of my own pocket to so that they could pick up pizzas.
  2. Don't forget to ask about allergies and special meal requirements.
  3. Determine what is required for the dressing room and/or green room. The tips we previously provided for event crew green room selection and set-up are a good place to start. One or more dedicated washrooms for the entertainers are essential. Also be sure to determine how many tables, chairs, and coat racks are needed (for outer wear and costumes).
  4. If the entertainers are unionized, be sure to have all union provisions specified in the proposal and contract.
  5. If entertainers are driving from a nearby state or town, always ask about transit accommodation. I once booked some entertainers who were driving to Canada from the closest state present an invoice after the event that included transit accommodation. This had never been requested. They had departed immediately after finishing a gig the previous afternoon. They broke their journey, rested and continued the next morning. As this need had never been identified, it was challenging to obtain approval for this expense.
  6. For clear communication with the team from the event venue, always have a representative from the entertainment company attend the pre-con meeting in person or via conference call. Be sure that all parties are clear about room set-up, when the room will be ready, timing of sound checks, support required by the venue, etc.
  7. Dinner EntertainmentDiscuss details for entertainment that takes place during meal service. For example, it is important to clarify that the event planner should always be consulted when the next course is ready. Food should never be left to dry out under heat lamps.
  8. To ensure that entertainment does not finish late (which could result in overtime charges), agree on strategies to speed up meal service if the meeting or event is behind schedule.

The lesson learned is don't assume that entertainers will identify everything they need. Help them by asking the right questions. Communication is the key to ensure that there are no surprises or unexpected, last-minute requests that are difficult to fulfill.

Photo Credits: Corporate Event Planners, Executive Oasis International

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