Booking celebrity talent for corporate events can be an intimidating task for even the most experienced event planner. Luckily, for over 30 years, the T. Skorman team has been helping special event planners – from novice to savvy meeting professionals – get the talent they need to make them look good.
While it’s our goal to make this process as smooth as possible, there are a few precautions planners can take to set their events up for success. Here are the top 5 tips event planners need to know when booking celebrity talent:
1. Know Your Budget
Celebrities come with additional expenses outside of their base costs. The price of the artist does not include production costs (sound, lighting, backline equipment), travel expenses (air, hotel, ground), and rider requests (including but not limited to stage, power, security, and catering). A $50,000 act can easily double in amount with the expenses necessary to make the show happen. Knowing your client’s budget and their exact expectations is critical.
Save your team time and disappointment by establishing an appropriate budget.
2. Know Your Audience & Set Expectations
While budget is important, matching the celebrity talent to the planner’s audience is the single most important element in achieving success. An audience of young, tech-oriented singles might not respond to Diana Ross as favorably as an audience of couples in their 50’s. Another example is an act like Kendrick Lamar. He may not reach a mature Midwestern audience of farm equipment dealers but is the perfect choice for an urban audience in New York City.
Another element to consider about an audience is understanding what is to be achieved through the entertainment. Will the guests want a concert where they are up on their feet or is a sit-down show a better choice? Will they dance or would they rather spend the time networking? Knowing these things up front will help you hit a home run with your choice of entertainer.
3. Allocate the Appropriate Time
The average act will require 4 to 6 hours for setup and soundcheck — assuming that lighting and audio are already in place. If this amount of time is not available, your offer needs to reflect that information so the act can make an educated decision as to whether they can adjust to the available schedule. Also, if your act is to be a surprise to your guests, where will your guests be during the time the act is making their sound check? Finally, many acts require the ballroom to be empty (no servers setting up tables) during sound check. Knowing your schedule in advance is an important piece of the puzzle that will lead to a smooth and glitch-free show.
4. Keep the Catering
As previously mentioned, there are many elements the act will require in addition to their fee. One of these is dressing room catering. A common mistake event planners make is trying to save money on the catering requirements. While managing costs is important, this is not the place to do it. The dressing room catering is one of the only things the act sees. Making cuts here will send the wrong message before the show even starts. We’ve heard experienced planners comment that part of the reason for limiting the catering is that they’ve often walked into the dressing room after the show to find the food untouched. While this does happen, the relative cost of the catering ($1,500 – $3,000) is usually insignificant compared to the overall price of the act.
If savings need to be achieved, negotiating out some of the lighting or other production areas can be a way of handling this in a way that doesn’t impact the act as intimately. If you’re still not convinced, call your T. Skorman rep and ask them to tell you their story about Van Halen and the brown M&M’s.
5. Make Your Offer Count
Know what you want before you make an offer. All celebrity talent requires a firm offer before committing to an event. Your initial offer is the time to ask for everything you want from the talent — and don’t forget to be specific about the details. Things like meet and greet times, particular songs they would be expected to play, or the number and quality of accommodations available are all important to include. After an offer is accepted, any changes requested by the planner or their client require negotiating with the act. Bear in mind, most acts are hesitant to negotiate changes after an offer is finalized.
These five tips are a great start when planning celebrity talent for your event. Our team is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us to handle the perfect celebrity talent for your next event.
For more information, check out our video on Booking Celebrity Talent.