Booking Children’s Entertainment for a Fun Day, Event or a Birthday Party can be a minefield. What is the best way to go about it? What are the pitfalls? Where do I start? In this article we discuss the pros and cons of booking an entertainer.
You will need to consider the following:
- What type of children’s entertainment do I want?
- When do I want it, date and times?
- How many shows / performances are required and duration of each?
- How many Acts / Artists / Performers will there be?
- What is my budget?
- How am I going to book the act I want?
- How will payment be made?
Having established exactly what it is you want you will need to make a booking. There are a number of ways this can be done.
- Telephone / verbal agreement. This is the easiest way but neither party has any come back should things go wrong. There could be misunderstandings, things could be forgotten, changes could occur which are not passed on. This is a recipe for disaster and best avoided. A very unprofessional way to do business. We often receive calls from people saying they have been let down at the last minute, can we help. More often than not it was a booking made over the phone or through someone who knew someone etc.
- Book through another act. Perhaps you already have an act booked for your event and this person offers to book the other entertainers for you. These days many performers are willing to do this as they are extending the service they offer and making life easier for you. In most cases they are likely to be taking a cut from the fee. They may or may not know the act they are bringing in. They are unlikely to have employers liability insurance which they should have if you are paying them and they are then paying the act as technically they are acting as the employer. Finally, they may not pass on the payment. We know of a Face Painter who was booking other face painters and children’s entertainers out to events and disappeared owing over £5000. Unfortunately this type of problem does occur.
- Booking through an Entertainment Agency. If you are going to use a third party then using an established and reputable agency is the best way. Unfortunately Entertainment Agencies are not licenced and this means that anyone can set up and start trading without any control over their activities. This can lead to unscrupulous people exploiting the situation for monetary gain. The advantage of using an Agency is that you can source everything from one place. You don’t need to spend a lot of time scouring the Internet looking for the right acts, contacting them all and trying to choose between them. The agent does that for you. This all sounds great and if you are dealing with a reputable agent then all should be well. There are still a few things to be aware. First, you will find that the agent’s terms and conditions completely remove any responsibility from themselves should things go wrong. Check the small print if you don’t believe me. You can complain to the agent but you will have no redress against them as their terms and conditions have get out clauses for everything. Second, you don’t know how much you are paying for their services. We know of one incidence where the agent charged the client £350 and paid the act £180. It is fair for an Agent to charge 15% – 20% for arranging a booking but taking almost 50% is outrageous even if two agents are involved. There should be transparency when arranging fees and the percentage to be paid to the agent should be known by the act and the Booker. Finally, it is common practice for agents to issue a contract to the act and a different contract to the client so neither party sees what the other is signing. This is because the agent doesn’t want either side to know what he is making on the deal. This is not good practice because the agent is setting up a contract between himself and the act but not taking any responsibility as the employer and then there is a separate contract between the agent and the client again where he is also not taking any responsibility. So there exists no contract between the act and the client. A very bad state of affairs especially if the agent does a bolt with the money or goes bust after he has collected the fees due to the act. Believe me this does happen and it is wrong. I know of many instances of this type of thing happening. In one case the agent owed £150,000 to acts who had worked for him – and no one got a penny.
- Use an Event Management Company to plan and run the entire event including booking all of the entertainment in which case you can relax and let them sort it all out. This is really only an option for corporate clients with substantial budgets as hiring in this kind of total service and expertise is going to cost.
- Book direct. This is my preferred option. This way you can discuss the requirements directly with the provider. Nothing is going to be misinterpreted, misunderstood or missed out. You are in complete control. A professional Children’s Entertainer will send you a contract or written confirmation and there is no middleman to pay.
Payment terms should always be agreed in advance and adhered to. It is a good idea to pay a deposit as you then have a legally binding agreement. You should sign and return any paperwork as soon as possible in order to secure the booking.
Have you had good / bad experiences when booking children’s entertainment or other types of act? What are your views on this subject?