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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

8 Tips to Avoid Corporate Entertainment Headaches

When you hire an entertainer for a corporate meeting or office party, be sure to touch base directly with the entertainer at least a week prior to the performance. This is called “advancing” the show. This is especially crucial if you booked through an entertainment agency, and have not yet spoken directly with the performer. 
With your signed contract in hand, call (not email) the entertainer to confirm the following:
  1. Dress
  2. Show content and special requests
  3. Directions, unloading, and parking details
  4. Technical rider, staging, and sound details
  5. Arrival time and performance time
  6. Hotel reservations
  7. Food/drink arrangements
  8. Final payment


Always let the performer know whether the event is casual, semi-formal, or black-tie so they can dress appropriately. Give them plenty of notice if you absolutely need them to wear a jacket, tie, or tuxedo. And if you've hired an act like Larry the Cable Guy, be understanding if they want to dress in "character" for the event.

Show Content and Special Requests

Make sure you and the entertainer are on the same page about the kind of performance you're expecting. Be very specific if you need them to avoid certain subject matter or language. If you want unusual requests or custom material that is outside the scope of the signed contract, be understanding if they politely push back. Many acts have set material, and may not be able to accommodate your requests to customize the performance.

Directions, Unloading, and Parking

In case you don’t know it already, Google Maps isn’t always correct. Review some anecdotal landmarks with the entertainer like “turn left right past the Wal-Mart”. Also be sure that you have reserved a designated area nearby for the performer to unload their equipment and park their vehicle. Mail or fax a parking pass ahead of time if necessary.

Technical Rider, Staging, and Sound

Be sure you thoroughly read the contract and rider, and make a copy for anyone on your team who will be dealing directly with the performer. Go through technical requirements line by line, and ask the performer if there is anything they need to ensure a successful performance.

Arrival and Performance Time

Confirm the arrival time with the performer. Make sure you specify where, when, and who the performer will meet. Also, double-check the performance time in case plans have changed since the contract was issued.

Hotel Reservations

Get a hotel confirmation number for the performer, and make sure the reservation is in the performer's name, not yours.

Food and Drink Arrangements

If the artist's rider calls for a meal, confirm ahead of time when and where it will be served. Make sure you have plenty of bottled water - whether or not they asked for it.

Final Payment

If your contract calls for the performer to be paid following the performance, make sure you have the check cut and ready. If you can't have the check ready that night for any reason, let the performer know ahead of time. They will understand, and you will avoid any awkward moments.

If there are any additional or unusual provisions in the artist's contract, be sure to go over each and every one. Remember that it is your responsibility to call ahead and ensure a successful performance.

Larry Weaver is a professional comedian, entertainment booking agent, and author of "Funny Employee Awards: Your Complete Guide to Organizing a Humorous, Entertaining and Rewarding Recognition Ceremony."

If you have additional tips, advice, or funny stories, please post them in the comments section...

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