Event Planning: 8 Tips for Over-the-Top Event Success

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event entertainers at tropical themed eventWe can tell you that every event—every grand opening, corporate gala, employee picnic, every event—is “its own animal” as the saying goes.  We know because we’ve been part of the event planning process—and many, many events—for far longer than we care to admit.  And yet, while every event is incredibly different, the tips that take an event from ho-hum event to over-the-top success are remarkably similar.

Don’t plan without a goal.

The event planning to-do list can be long; if you don’t have a goal that guides you through that list, each event planning task is going to be just another to-do without any connection to your other event details.  The solution: set a specific goal for your event that guides each decision you make.  Your event goal can be especially important when booking the most essential detail: your venue (tips for choosing the right venue can be found here).

Avoid procrastination.

As soon as your event is confirmed, it’s time to start planning.  Make sure you organize (or hire an event planner who is organized) as you plan to ensure that every detail is taken care of and confirmed.  Don’t wait to get started; the best venues and vendors’ calendars fill up fast.

Select an event date that works for your targeted audience.

As tempting as it may be to book an event date that works for you, the attendance of your event depends upon a thorough consideration of your guests’ schedules.  Statistically, Mondays and Fridays are on average lower attendance days. Once you have a date, create a promotion plan that targets your guests through targeted online and offline channels.

Focus on your guests.

Every corporate event decision and detail—EVERY DECISION—should be dependent on your targeted audience. Your venue should be selected based on the location of your targeted audience.  Your entertainment should fit with guests demographic and tastes.  If you are not able to make those matches, hire a professional with experience so you can make those matches and increase the chance of event success.

Take the old saying, “location, location, location” to heart.

Your venue is one of the most important details—if not the most important detail—so make sure your venue is the right choice for your event.  Your event venue should check several key boxes off your event planning checklist, such as location, adequate space (and spaces), amenities, and other criteria.  If you are not familiar with the area your event needs to be held in, outsource the selection and booking process; you and your guests are going to be glad you did as they enjoy the right venue for your event.

Don’t overlook the smallest detail.

An overlooked detail can be the crux of a corporate event gone wrong. Don’t leave one stone unturned as you plan the food, seating, schedule, signage, and all the other essentials of your corporate event.   Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from vendors and agents throughout the event planning process.

Use the pros to coordinate all your entertainment needs.

Hire an entertainment agent for several key reasons, most notably as a time-saver. An entertainment agent can locate the right, quality entertainers for your guests, and handle any needs the entertainers might have—decreasing your workload and increasing the chance of event success.

Be flexible.

With more than 25 plus years of experience in events, we can tell you from experience that you need to take the Scout motto to heart. As your event draws near, be prepared to “sweat the details” and adjust your plans accordingly the day of the event.

Hiring a band or entertainer? 6 Wedding Planning Mistakes to Avoid

wedding dance floor full of guests dancing to wedding bandHiring a band or entertainer for your big day can seem like just another task to check off on your wedding planning checklist; as simple as it seems, it’s still a wedding planning task that begets blunders if you don’t take advice from the pros to heart.

Procrastinating

We’ve seen many a couple wait too long (way too long) to consider their wedding entertainment.  Don’t wait to start searching for a great wedding band or entertainer; the best wedding entertainers’ calendars fill up quickly.  As soon as you reserve your wedding venue, start searching for bands or hire an entertainment agent who can find the right entertainer and manage all the important details.

Thinking that wedding entertainment is a low priority

Don’t think of your wedding band or entertainer as an isolated item not connected to your wedding atmosphere.  To the contrary: wedding entertainment can be a powerful part of creating a vintage wedding, country picnic or any other wedding theme you are trying to create.  Search for the entertainers that help you connect all the dots and tie all the details together.

Not asking for help

A typical wedding planning checklist is long.  When you’re busy, vetting entertainers (for your ceremony and reception) to find the best and most reliable can seem like a huge undertaking. To ease your wedding planning stress, consider contacting an entertainment agent as a time-saving life saver (amid other excellent reasons). An entertainment agent can locate the right quality entertainers for your wedding, and handle all details and any needs the entertainers might have—decreasing your wedding planning workload and giving you the wedding you’ve always dreamed of.

Making price the only factor in your decision

It’s a common misconception: any amateur musician can play in a wedding ceremony.  You shouldn’t have to settle for amateur musicians who haven’t touched an instrument since grade school (here’s how to choose a quality ceremony musician) or an inexperienced musician who has never played at a wedding before. Your guests shouldn’t have to settle for a mediocre band that doesn’t play together often or has the experience to keep your dance floor going all night.  The lesson: use more than cost in your decision to hire a wedding entertainer, so you get the right entertainer for your big day.

Not considering the size of your venue

For your ceremony and reception, think about the size of your venue when screening potential musicians and entertainers.  A small group or band that can’t hit the volume in a venue your size is going to leave your guests underwhelmed and waiting for the real entertainers to come out and play.  Ask bands and musicians if they’ve performed at a venue your size before, and how many members of the group is going to be present at your ceremony or reception.

Ignoring advice

This doesn’t mean you have to listen to that advice from your aunt about your wedding dress, but it does mean to be open to advice from your wedding planner, venue consultant or entertainment agent. You’ve hired these wedding professionals for their experience; listen to them when setting a schedule, wedding entertainment line-up and placement. Remember, they are trying to make your vision a reality and work for you; now you can rely on their experience for the perfect wedding entertainment line-up.

Not sweating the details

Hiring an entertainer or band is more than just signing on the bottom line.  If you want to make sure you have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed, lean on the professionals who have experience and can sort through and coordinate all the details.  You’ll be glad you did when you’re enjoying all the benefits of terrific wedding entertainment.

20+ Entertainment Ideas That Takes Your Event to the Next Level

event entertainers Mardi Gras entertainersYour guests have expectations when they come to your event: they may expect another ho-hum get together, a fantastic night of good food and entertainment, or an experience somewhere in the middle.  If you want to meet—and exceed—their expectations, you have to check off all the boxes of event planning: venue, food, atmosphere, entertainment.

It’s your job to provide that in an unforgettable event and pull all the stops out to get there (or to use experts that can get you there).  To get your creative juices flowing, and put you on the road to a successful event, we’ve given you a list of event entertainers that can take your event to the next level.

  1. Showgirls
  2. Black Jack Dealers
  3. Dance band
  4. Comedians
  5. Celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears, Elvis, etc.
  6. Orchestra
  7. Jazz musicians
  8. Flappers
  9. Gangsters
  10. Jazz performers
  11. Carnival girls
  12. Steel drum band
  13. Mariachi band
  14. Island servers
  15. Hypnotists
  16. Magicians
  17. Burlesque entertainers
  18. Show (holiday show, short musical, etc.)
  19. Mimes
  20. Country band
  21. Stilt walkers
  22. Blues band
  23. Accoustic acts

If you want more ideas, or you’ve already set your event theme and need to fill in the blanks, contact an entertainment agent that can help you create an incredible event that fits your budget—and exceeds the expectations of everyone in attendance.

20+ Entertainment Ideas for Your Wedding

wedding entertainersIf you’re a couple looking to plan a wedding like no other, it’s all about creating a spectacular atmosphere.  From the food to the entertainment, your wedding needs to scream Mardi Gras, tropical getaway, a day back in the 20’s (or your favorite era), an elaborate performance—whatever your theme, make it a magical evening.

Entertainers can be the key to a magical evening—especially unique acts that no one expects.  We’ve started a list to get you started, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing the right entertainers to fit your special night and unique wedding theme. 

  1. Magician
  2. Wedding painter
  3. Mariachi band
  4. String quartet
  5. Dueling pianos
  6. Steel drum band
  7. Vintage servers
  8. Jazz trio
  9. Soul band
  10. Country band
  11. Dance instructor
  12. Acoustic group
  13. Orchestra
  14. Vintage band (that can play popular tunes from the era of your themed wedding)
  15. Swinging orchestra
  16. Celebrity impersonators (from the era of your wedding)
  17. Tribute Acts
  18. Reggae band
  19. Carnival (perfect for carnival-themed wedding)
  20. Showgirls
  21. Jugglers (for fair-themed wedding)

If you want more ideas for wedding entertainers, contact us.  We have the experience to find the right entertainers—and coordinate all the details to make it a memorable evening your guests’ll talk about for years.

5 Charity Gala Themes (& entertainers that make the atmosphere!)

red carpet entertainer with guests at masquerade themed charity galaExpectations are high when guests attend your fundraising gala.  They expect everything: atmosphere, entertainment, excellent meal…the works.  It’s up to you to provide all of that, and more.  One of the best ways to do that is to use a theme to build the ultimate night, and entertainers that make your guests feel immersed in the atmosphere. We’ve put together the recipe for both to get you started (and can give you more ideas, just ask our entertainment agents!)

Vegas Casino

What: Make your guests feel like a night on the Vegas strip.  Choose an extravagant venue and set up roulette wheels and other décor to create the setting of a Hollywood casino.  Complete the night with dice décor, poker chips, playing cards, and all the scrumptious treats they need for a night out.

Entertainers: Showgirls, dealers, dance band, comedians

Hollywood Red Carpet

What: The experience starts on the red carpet with this charity event theme. Choose a venue like a theater or a posh hotel to make your guests feel like they are the ones receiving a big Hollywood award.  Have your guests enter on the red carpet as cameras flash around them and they mingle with other Hollywood stars.

Entertainers: Celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears and Elvis, showgirls, show, orchestra

Roaring 20’s Jazz Party

What: Make your guests feel like they stepped back in time to the best party the 1920’s has ever seen.  Use décor that makes your venue feel like a swingin’ jazz club, and invite all the guests (entertainers) the 20’s are famous for.

Entertainers: Jazz musician with a nostalgic sound, flappers, gangsters

Masquerade Ball

 What: Invite your guests to a costume party complete with entertainers that set the stage for a fun evening. Treat them to a night of jazz music and outlandish décor that makes your guests feel like they are in the midst of a huge party.

Entertainers: Showgirls, jazz performers, carnival girls, band

Caribbean Getaway

What: Warm up your guests with a steamy tropical theme.  Use décor that makes your guests feel like they are on an island getaway with tropical décor: seashells, nets, sea stars, sand…the works.  Complete the feel of a beach with island cuisine and a bar with a full array of summer drinks.

Entertainers: steel drum or mariachi band, island servers and wait staff

20 Corporate Event Entertainment Ideas

conference attendees applauding conference entertainmentA business convention, conference, trade show, meeting, or seminar isn’t always just about business.  Any quality corporate event also wows and entertains their audience, giving your attendees a complete, enjoyable experience.  If you’re trying to nail down that full experience for your corporate event, contact the experts to connect you to the perfect entertainer for your audience that complements your business agenda.  Here are a few ideas to get you started planning your corporate event experience:

  1. Comedian (choose a performer that can adapt their show with information about your company)
  2. Band (type coordinates with theme)
  3. Stiltwalkers
  4. Mimes
  5. Illusionists
  6. Magicians
  7. Carnivale characters (perfect for circus theme)
  8. Roaring 20’s performers (works well with company event celebrating anniversary from that time)
  9. Showgirls (perfect entrance entertainers)
  10. Frank Sinatra tribute (or any celebrity related to a time period theme)
  11. Pianists
  12. Mariachi band
  13. Tarot & Psychic entertainer
  14. Blues entertainer
  15. Orchestra (any size dependant on your venue)
  16. Reggae performers
  17. Steel drum performers
  18. Juggler
  19. Hypnotist
  20. Mentalist

If you want to narrow down the list to entertainers that connect with your audience and theme, contact an entertainment agent.  They can select and coordinate all the details of your corporate event entertainment so you can plan the complete experience for your guests.

5 Last-Minute Company Holiday Party Tips

company christmas party guests with santa hats by holiday treeHoliday party planning is all about the details.  When you miss a detail, or have to deal with a last-minute cancellation, it’s never too late (believe us, we’ve helped clients find entertainers down to the wire!) to get all the details of your company holiday party confirmed in time for your corporate holiday event.  Don’t panic. Use these tips to make sure all your party details are coordinated for a very merry—and memorable—holiday party.

Check, check, and double check.

This is your last chance. Finalize all the details before the day of your company holiday party, including your budget.  Now is the time to make sure you have all your details covered: venue arrangements, catering, entertainment, gifts, etc.  Confirm your details and make last minute requests with any money you have left in your budget.

Don’t forget about the kids at your party.

If your company holiday party is a family affair, make sure you have planned enough activities and entertainers to keep the kids on your guest list happy and occupied.  To make sure you’re covered, do more than just print out more coloring sheets.  Hire face painters or elves to lead kid-friendly entertainment (you’ll please the parents too!).

Send out last minute follow-ups to your guests.

As busy as you are, don’t forget to help your guests out one more time before your event.  Send out emails or mailing with information about parking, event specifics, and venue details.  Let your guests know where to park, any costs, what entrance to use (if applicable), and start and end times.

Fill in the blanks with entertainment.

It’s never too late to fill in the blanks in your event, especially if you have the budget to do so.  What seems like minor additions can make a big difference in your party atmosphere: details like adding elves can be a big hit with your guests or hiring carolers can do a lot to make your company holiday party more enjoyable.

Account for the unexpected and unreliable.

If you get a last minute cancellation from an entertainer, call an entertainment agent with a full list of entertainers they can contact for your event.  Make sure you contact the agent as soon as you know that your entertainer can’t make it.  The success of your company holiday party, and the merriment of your guests, depends on it.

15+ Office Holiday Party Entertainers

office holiday party entertainersA ho-hum holiday party with nothing to entertain the guests other than food. If you’re tired of the same old office holiday get together year after year, it’s time to jazz up (Chicago style!) your company holiday party with entertainment that extends beyond a good meal. There are a lot of different options for holiday party entertainers for your annual get together; here’s the short list of ideas that’ll make your employees and co-workers look forward to the office holiday party:

  1. Carolers
  2. Father Christmas
  3. Elves
  4. Holiday soldiers
  5. Holiday show
  6. Snow men (and women)
  7. Ice bar
  8. Dueling pianos
  9. String quartet
  10. Mind Reader
  11. Comedian
  12. Juggler
  13. Magicians
  14. Caricature artist
  15. Band (steel drum band for tropical holiday party, country band for country holiday)
  16. Mariachi group (for an international holiday atmosphere)
  17. Jazz act (for a vintage holiday feel)
  18. Pianist

This is just the short list of holiday entertainers; the right act for your holiday party can be chosen by a professional depending on your party theme, guest list, budget, and desired atmosphere.  To pare down the list, contact a good entertainment agent to select the right entertainer for your holiday party and your budget.  Your guests and co-workers will be glad you did, when they’re enjoying a (lot!) better-than-mediocre office holiday party.

Tips for Planning a Holiday Corporate Party for a Diverse Guest List

happy holidays sign from diverse corporate holiday partyPlanning a company holiday party with a diverse list is not as big of a challenge as it may seem, especially if you keep these tips in mind as you plan a corporate holiday party everyone’ll remember and enjoy.

Keep your party neutral.

When planning your décor, entertainment, and food, keep your choices “holiday neutral.”  Use signs of the season, such as snowflakes and lights, in your plan.  Plan your party around a neutral theme, such as a winter wonderland or a holiday show, where you really can’t go wrong spreading diverse holiday cheer.

Focus on commonalities.

When planning your holiday party, focus on what your guests have in common to create a feel of togetherness and teamwork.  Cater to different tastes, but try not to overdo it—you don’t want to try too hard and create a very disjointed party that doesn’t feel coordinated; it makes your guests feel the same.

Give your guests choices.

This may seem to go against our last tip, but you can create a holiday party with a sense of togetherness, yet with options that fit everyone’s tastes.  For beverages, give your guests a diverse menu that’s sure to please.  When planning your menu, plan a variety of options that everyone can choose from.  For entertainment, talk to an agent about choosing entertainment that meets two key criteria: diversity and age.  For a family holiday party, plan for entertainers that entertain the youngest and most experienced of your guests.

Ask the experts.

Planning a holiday corporate party for a diverse guest list is nothing new; choose vendors with experience that have planned many diverse holiday parties.  Don’t be afraid to lean on their experience; for example, if you’re looking for an entertainer that fits your theme and your diverse crowd, contact an entertainment agent who can–and has in the past— choose the perfect entertainer for the event.  You’ll have to give them information about your party, theme, demographic of your guest list, and event information, but the result—a perfect entertainer for your party—is well worth the effort.

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Venue for Your Holiday Party

businessman headed to corporate holiday party with Santa hat and presentsIf you want to make it an even merrier holiday season for your holiday party guests, choosing the best venue for your company holiday party is key to success.  To assist you, here’s our gift: tips to help you choose the ideal venue for your corporate holiday party.

Choose a venue in line with the goal of your holiday party.

One of the first steps of planning a holiday party is setting a goal.  Once you have a clear and specific objective for your holiday party, screen potential event venues based on your goal. For example, if your goal is to show appreciation for your employees’ families, look for conveniently located family venues.  For a holiday party with a goal targeted at your employees, research venues that are in line with the type and formality of your affair.

Get started on a guest list.

For a variety of reasons (including safety) and optimal results, make the size of potential venues a key set of criteria in your holiday party venue search.  With regards to budget, pay special attention to any minimums imposed by the venue to ensure that you are not charged for more guests than you expect to attend your holiday party.

Ask for recommendations and expertise.

Professional advice can be worth its weight in gold, especially when the success of your holiday party is on the line.  No company wants to invest their time and efforts into holiday party planning and not achieve their goal.  If you are not familiar with the city where you are hosting a holiday party, such as our national clients who host a corporate event for location employees in Chicago, contact a local event planner that knows the area and can make venue recommendations or plan your holiday party for you.

Set a budget.

Knowing your budget for your party and venue—and not going over that number—is a key component in any holiday party venue search.  If the budget for your holiday party budget is tight, allocate your resources into areas that make the biggest impact on your guests: food and entertainment.  To ensure that you don’t blow your holiday party budget, ask event venue staff for a final invoice with charges to avoid add-on charges (i.e. set-up, overage, etc.).

Be aware of your holiday party needs.

There are various needs that the guests of your holiday party need: acoustics, amenities, audio visual, kitchen, event equipment (i.e. tables, chairs, etc.), full service staff (i.e. coat check, bartenders, servers, set up & take down staff, etc.), parking, handicap accessibility.  Vet your holiday party venues with those event needs in mind. If you need a full kitchen, discuss your options with venues in your desired area.  Depending on the weather, if your event venue doesn’t have an on-site kitchen, you may be able to bring a tent in for your catering needs (even during winter).

Use atmosphere to plan the details.

Once you’ve determined and set the practical criteria for choosing your holiday party venue (budget, space for guests, purpose, location),think about what kind of atmosphere you want at your holiday party.  With your desired atmosphere in mind, plan all your event details so they play into your holiday party atmosphere.  If you are planning Santa’s workshop, choose a venue with adequate space for a village and tree, and hire entertainers that make your guests feel like they are visiting the North Pole.  If you don’t have a large budget for décor, select a venue with ambiance that doesn’t require a lot of décor—the success of your holiday party depends on it.