15 Questions to Ask Before You Book Your Next Entertainer


Welcome to my debut guest post for face2face on MeetingsNet!

As owner of Baskow & Associates, a destination management and entertainment company in Las Vegas, I have the pleasure of working with companies all over the world. In upcoming posts I’ll share my decades of experience with the entertainment industry and give you VIP access to industry secrets and tips. Along the way I’ll drop some names: hot venues, new acts, compelling speakers, inspiring décor, and the latest ideas for meetings, events and tradeshows. I’ll also warn you about some pitfalls to watch out for that will save you money and aggravation.

First up are the essential questions to ask when choosing and then booking entertainment:

1. What kind of entertainment are you looking for: comedian, band, variety act, celebrity headliner, keynote speaker?

2. What is your client’s budget?

3. What is the age range of the attendees?

4. Where will this event take place?

5. Will people be attending who do not speak English?

6. What kind of entertainment has your booking agent handled in the past?

At the booking stage, there are even more questions to ask, many of which are designed to figure out what costs are going to pop up in addition to the act’s stated fee. You’ll find most of your answers in the entertainer’s “rider.” The rider is attached to the contract and includes the act’s specific hospitality needs (transportation, lodging, meals, etc.) and technical needs (sound, lighting, etc.).

Among the things you want to know:

1. Are you going to have to cover the cost of airplane tickets? If so, how many first-class and coach seats are required?

2. How many hotel rooms are needed?

3. What about ground transportation from the airport to the hotel?

4. Are meals and beverages, including alcohol, in the rider?

5. Are production costs charged over and above the fee quoted to you?

6. Will the act require instrument rentals? Are these an additional charge to you?

7. What about sound and lighting equipment, and possible rear-screen projection?

8. Are you using a union venue? Have you factored in labor costs?

What about labor costs?

9. Are there any other special requirements?

These questions are crucial! Remember that everything should be negotiable and your entertainment buyer should be negotiating on your behalf.

And a few more things…

First and foremost, talent must not be offensive or inappropriate in any way. Be aware of the corporate culture of your audience and keep this point in mind at all times.

Second, it is important to address client’s expectations early on regarding the quality of entertainment they can expect to hire with respect to budget. And finally, find an artist with universal appeal who will deliver that added punch. Before you book, ask yourself, “What’s the ‘wow’ factor for my event?”

This Month’s Hot Tip: Andre Philippe Gagnon

Recently I booked Andre Philippe Gagnon, a world-famous French-Canadian singing impressionist to perform at a client’s closing night gala, before an international crowd ranging in age from 20 to 70 years old. Because of the diversity of the group, Andre was the perfect choice because he sings in three languages. Check him out.

Meet us! We’ll be at IMEX Americas, across from the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority booth.

Ask us! E-mail your entertainment questions anytime: jaki@baskow.com

Jaki Baskow has been CEO and owner of the full-service destination management company Baskow & Associates in Las Vegas since 1976.

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