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The event: ISES Talks Entertainment
The venue: Floridita, Soho
The host: ISES and Floridita
The menu: generously-sized canapés, including mini beef & chorizo burgers, smoked salmon with keta caviar & crème fraiche and sesame grilled chicken skewers from the Floridita kitchens, plus crisps, nuts and pretzels delivered – straight from the airport – by the Troli Dolis
The drinks: a variety of (strong) cocktails including Old Fashioneds, Apple Martinis, Hendricks Gin Fizz and Mojitos, as well as wine and beer
Educational element: V&E editor Annica Wainwright shared her top ten tips on booking entertainment for events (read these below)
The entertainment: live music and a cabaret show by The Globe Girls
The guestlist: ISES members and guests
The talking point: all the sequin-clad men in the room
The speeches: three minutes from Jane Hague, vice president of ISES Talks, two minutes from Neil Armishaw, director of Globestar Management
The suppliers: food and drink, Floridita; entertainment, Globestar Management; badges, Reftech; photography, Indigo Photography
1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to entertainment, so the single most important thing to think about before booking is who you’ll be catering for. Is the crowd young or old? Predominately male or female? Do guests know each other or not? Are they friends or colleagues? From a respectable blue-chip company or funky Shoreditch start-up? All of this will make a difference.
2. KNOW YOUR VENUE
What type of entertainment will work in the space you’ve booked and where is the best place to stage it? Ask the in-house team for advice.
3. KNOW YOUR SCHEDULE
Choose the right type of entertainment for each part of your event and try to spread them out across the day or evening so there’s not too much (or too little) going on at any one time.
4. CONSIDER ACTIVITIES AS WELL AS ACTS
Entertainment comes in many different forms – background music, dancing music, strolling entertainers and stage shows among them – and, with so much choice, it can be easy to overlook one of the simplest and most effective forms of entertainment: interactive games and activities. Remember, too, that the best parties feature more than one type of entertainment.
5. BUDGET & PRIORITISE
Be realistic about what your budget can buy. If money is tight, it’s often better to prioritise than trying to stretch the budget too far. Will a live band make a big difference to your event or will a DJ do? Could a tribute act be as effective as the real deal? Do you need a big after-dinner show or could a combination of classy background music and strolling entertainers do the job? You tend to get what you pay for so invest in the best you can afford.
6. USE A GOOD AGENT
An established entertainment agency will have done hundreds of events like yours, so you can trust its agents’ advice on what will (and, more importantly, won’t) work. The best agencies will seek out new acts on an on-going basis, putting the entertainers they find through rigorous auditions before adding them to their books, so you can also expect them to help you find the best of what’s new.
7. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
If at all possible, try to see the act you’re interested in ‘live’ at another event. If you can’t, ask for a DVD or downloadable video clip from a past event (most acts will have these on their website). Always ask for references too. The best recommendations are unsolicited so keep your ears peeled for advice from your peers at networking and industry events.
8. BE CAREFUL WITH COMEDY
Comedy is great when it works but notoriously difficult to get right so choose your act carefully and make sure they’re thoroughly briefed. Once again, think about who your audience is and make sure the comedian won’t offend the guest or host.
9. BOOK BIG NAMES WITH OPEN EYES
Celebrities, be they big-name comedians, speakers or musicians, can certainly add buzz to an events but they rarely come without a hefty price tag and a whole lot extra hassle. Consider, for instance, that you may need better insurance and tighter security. And make sure there’s someone on hand to deal with divas who will only eat blue M&Ms. In general, celebrity headliners are best value when booked for ticketed events, where they can help draw attention and boost sales. For other occasions, don’t dismiss great tribute acts.
10. CONSIDER VENUES WITH BUILT-IN ENTERTAINMENT
Restaurants are particularly good for this. Floridita in Soho has live music every night, All Star Lanes (now at Stratford as well as Holborn, Bayswater and Brick Lane) is great for bowling, while Volupté in Holborn puts on burlesque shows.