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The High Cost of Cheap Entertainment

Don't Sink Your Event! Just when you think you've dodged the budget iceberg by skimping on the entertainment budget, you discover the immense hidden costs lurking beneath the surface.

Even in a great economy, event planners are right to be cost-conscious. Experienced planners know there are always significant hidden costs and very high risks associated with putting low-fee, bargain-basement entertainers in front of their audience. It destroys the event’s effectiveness. It embarrasses the audience. It undermines the organization’s credibility. Sometimes, depending on how bad the entertainment is, it can even cost the planner his or her job..

Over the past two decades I have helped numerous event planners overcome “last year’s disaster” – cheesy, amateurish, or foul-mouthed ‘bargains’ that ultimately cost them much more than they thought they had saved. People who know that value considerations are at least as important as price concerns make great clients, but I always wish they could have avoided the painful lesson that got them there. Unfortunately, it took a bad experience — followed by a great experience with me — for these good folks to learn what savvy consumers have known from time immemorial:

You get what you pay for.

I get calls for events where it is clear that the planner is dialing through a list of phone numbers looking for anyone with a pulse, who will stand on a stage in return for whatever budget remains after paying for the venue, food and decor… that is to say, in many cases, for next to nothing. In their quest to save money, these inexperienced planners are basing the single most focused and memorable part of the evening on ‘whomever we can find for whatever we have left.’

Your group will be talking to each other while having cocktails and dinner, but their full attention will be focused on the after-dinner performer for the better part of an hour. From the time the show starts until it ends, the quality of that performance doesn’t just affect the quality of the event – it is the quality of the event. That experience is what the audience really takes with them as their memory of the event – not the food, not the venue and not the décor. Good or bad, that performance is going to be discussed more than any other part of the event.

  • If the food is mediocre and the entertainment is great…people will remember the entertainment.
  • If the decor is mediocre and the entertainment is great…people will remember the entertainment.
  • If the food is great, the decor is beautiful, and the entertainment is bad…people will remember the entertainment.

No matter what else happens, people remember the entertainment because that is what holds their attention for the most time, and with the most focus.

There is no doubt that you can use a search engine or phone directory to find someone who will do your event for you at a ‘bargain basement’ fee. When you find that person, distance yourself from them as quickly as possible. You will have found an inexperienced, sub-par performer who is desperate for work. This is not what you want for you or your audience. Having to sit through one of their “shows” is bad enough but then, when it’s mercifully over, you have to pay them. Not a pleasant thought. You’re better off saving your money.

'Bargain' entertainers for any event, is money down the toilet.

Remember if a performer is cheap, they’re cheap for a reason.

For virtually any event, cheap entertainment is an expensive, high-stakes wager on a losing proposition. The hidden costs – reduced effectiveness, diminished credibility, and lasting negative impact – far outweigh the tantalizing prospect of getting an imagined bargain on an entertainer.

There are creative ways to achieve professional results on a wide range of budgets, and I love working with my clients to find those solutions. But, you can always trust me to tell you where the real opportunities and the real limits are, and to be honest about what will work best for your event and your audience.

Bottom line – the success of your event is as important to me as it is to you. I look forward to working with you, to create a highly successful and memorable event.

Connect with me today and let’s talk business.

Doug Arden