Avoid mistakes when hiring Corporate Entertainers for conventions.
Event Planners tips for hiring corporate entertainment in an interview format.
It’s About More Than Laughs
Recently, Sara Vanderbilt(SV), SPIN’s VP of Operations, sat down with corporate entertainer Larry G Jones(LGJ) to discuss a common thread: it seems corporate entertainers are undervalued for what they can bring to the table, just like planners.
SV: So Larry, what is the biggest mistake meeting & event planners make when buying corporate entertainment?
LGJ: Once they get past pricing and contracting many planners treat corporate entertainers like an unexpected alien visiting from space. I don’t mean they treat us badly or anything like that. However, most of the time they plop us into their meetings and events with no knowledge of their program purpose, no goals to accomplish, we don’t know the overall conference or meeting theme and believe it or not, many times we don’t even know who is sponsoring our performance!
SV: Umm, guilty as charged. I guess in the past I thought corporate entertainers just do the same performance over and over.
LGJ: Corporate entertainers as a group can be some of the best sales and marketing people in the world… they know how to make a point, control a convention audience… they sell themselves at every performance and if planners tell me who their sponsor is, I will make sure no one in that audience ever forgets their name… If they tell me that the purpose of their meeting is building company morale after a big merger or layoffs and I will have their employees cheering like they were at a high school pep rally.
SV: So you are saying planners should spend more time feeding information to the performers who will be providing the corporate entertainment entertainers?
LGJ: Yes and no… Entertainment is a powerful tool… Think about it. Leno and Letterman are only funny because the they make jokes that come from ‘inside knowledge’ about current events… without that inside knowledge they aren’t so funny. The real value of entertainment is how much it can enhance a program by bringing the group together as a team through a common emotional experience( e.g. laughter, familiar music, audience participation) while driving home a point or purpose. But to do that the entertainer needs to know what the point or purpose is in the first place. It doesn’t really require a lot of extra time from the planner since almost all the info an entertainer would need to customize a show can be taken care of with a one-page ‘customization questionnaire’ the client can fill out. This inside knowledge is like adding a nitro booster to the fancy race car you just bought. If a planner invests money to hire a good entertainer, they could be missing a huge opportunity when they don’t use that entertainer to the fullest advantage.
SV: In this economy it can be a struggle to keep attendance up at corporate events and conventions. Can you share some ways a corporate entertainer can help bolster pre-registration?
LGJ: When the planner and entertainer come together as a team, there are a number of things they can do. Since entertainers are such good marketers, in addition to customizing a program to suit the message, theme, and/or demographic of an event, they may be able to help with the promotion of the event. This could come in the form of custom artwork or a short video (for the event website, email blasts and/or social media mentions) featuring clips of the upcoming gala entertainment along with sponsor or company logos, location, dates, and a custom voice-over with conference talking points and an invitation to register now. This is a great added value a planner can ask for from a professional entertainer.
SV: How can planners justify corporate entertainers in our budget these days?
LGJ: It has been proven that emotions drive sales, motivation and incentive. Event planners are have many hats to wear and balls to juggle, but often a lot their time based on ‘perceived priority’… instead of ‘long term value.’ People really need a break from the stress of our overstimulated world and a great entertainment program can be the most impacting, talked about, and remembered time of any event. Is it more important to make sure the table napkins & centerpieces are extravagant or that their guests keep a dialogue going about the event? Does the entertainer know who the event sponsors are, who are the VIP clients and what their performance is supposed to accomplish? Customized corporate entertainment will enhance the guests’ emotional experience while it uplifts the tone, attitudes, feelings and motivation of the attendees. After all, weeks after the event is over what are the attendees going to remember and talk about? Will they reminisce on the ‘awesome chicken’… OR will they remember and relive the highlights of the ‘spectacular corporate entertainment’ on that special night?
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