If you were to build a new addition to your house, I’m sure that you’d want to ensure that the builder that you hired was good at his job! You certainly wouldn’t to find out after spending your money that your new addition was unsound, nor would you want to work with someone who made a mess, arrived late or did not keep their promises. Perhaps in order to prevent this, you’d make sure that the person belonged to a reputable organisation that works to maintain standards – like the Master Builders’ Association.

In some ways, you can consider whether a service provider is “professional” by which organisations they belong to. But I think that being “a professional” is far more than that: I think it’s about meeting your clients’ expectations & delivering work that you can be proud of.

So why should things be any different in the entertainment industry? Remember that when your company hosts an event or function, everything about that party creates an impression on your clients & customers. That means that if you are considering bringing in an entertainer, that person (or group) can influence how your clients (or prospective clients) feel about doing business with you.

Even if the event is an internal one, like a year-end ‘staff appreciation’ party, what message do you send if you use an amateur performer? Or if the performance is offensive? Or if it’s just plain inappropriate? I’d go as far as to suggest that if you’re hiring the ‘cheapest’ entertainer you can, then you should save the money and rather give your staff a small cash bonus – they’ll appreciate that more than having to sit through bad entertainment.

The fact is, a good entertainer is going to cost you – how do you know that he or she is going to be worth it?

So let’s assume you want to use the services of a performer or entertainer who is ‘worth his/her salt’ – what should you look out for?

Here are some key indicators that indicate that the entertainer you’re speaking to will deliver a professional, consistent & reliable service:

  • • The entertainer is a full-time performer. In order to make a living in the entertainment world (especially in South Africa), you need to be consistently performing & working. A part-time performer may not be able to give you 100% commitment, nor may they have enough enquiries to keep working. Caveat: I know several professional entertainers who choose to have a full-time job in a different industry – this does not mean they’re not fantastic!
  • • The entertainer has an extensive list of corporate clients. If the performer is good, he/she will keep getting referrals & will continue to work for big companies.
  • • The entertainer has a collection of testimonial letters. A true professional asks his clients to send their feedback. The fact that a client has taken the time to put a recommendation on paper proves that they found the performance to be satisfactory (at least).
  • • The entertainer’s marketing material is up-to-date. You should be able to watch videos or view photographs to get a sense of what the performance is like. Expect to receive brochures or a ‘one sheet’ with updated biographical information, recent clients, comments and feedback. Bonus – is his/her website up-to-date, and is it comprehensive?
  • • The entertainer belongs to professional industry associations. Association membership indicates that he/she wishes to grow & improv their business or standing within the industry. Examples are the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa and the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).
  • • The performer has a good contract. Because an entertainer can make or break an event, how can you ensure that you are protected against injuries, damage or even if he/she doesn’t pitch up? The contract is super important as it covers the details of your agreement – be vary wary if the performer does not at least send you a document with the terms of your agreement.  Bonus – does the entertainer offer you a “money back” satisfaction guarantee?
  • • “The Devil’s in the details”. Are your calls returned? Do you receive prompt replies to questions? Does the marketing material give you a sense of confidence? Does he/she really understand your needs and answer your questions? Do you get a sense of confidence? A large component of your decision has to come down to your ‘gut’!

In our experience of working with first-time clients who rarely hire entertainment, they’re often surprised that it takes a little bit of time to make the right decision! However, there is absolutely no doubt that if you work with an enthusiastic and committed professional entertainer that people will remember how much they enjoyed your enjoyed and thank you for choosing the perfect corporate event entertainment!