Show Business: Finding the right entertainment for your corporate event

From singers and dancers to magicians and comedians, quality entertainment serves as the cherry on top of the sundae that is a great event. “Entertainment helps build the ambiance, sets the tone and rounds [the event] out perfectly,” says Janice Boes, CEO of Pierpont Place and Premier Event Services. “It you don’t have a form of entertainment, I think there’s something missing.”

Choose wisely

Anything—DJs, live bands, comedians, interactive games—is an option for a corporate event. The key for planners to select and book the best possible entertainment is to know the event’s tone, focus and budget.

Booking the appropriate entertainment makes all the difference. As an event planner and venue manager, Boes says the most important question she can ask a client is, “What are you trying to accomplish with this event?”

If a company is chatting up potential customers, anything too loud or distracting undermines the purpose of the event. She suggests a jazz band or similar form of low-key background entertainment.

Companies hosting an employee function might be looking for something that will motivate guests to socialize and work together. Boes recommends interactive entertainment, such as a game. Murder mystery or trivia game show formats are usually well-received, she says, especially if the content can be customized to the client.

Sally Johnson, owner of Green Light Booking, says comedians and impersonators whose material is “corporate clean” are another fun option. She also suggests creating a theme for your event—a casino theme with raffle prizes, photo booths and dueling pianos are all guaranteed crowd-pleasers, she says.

For events where music can take the center stage, think about whether live music or a DJ is better. Cover bands are currently one of the most popular corporate entertainment options, says Johnson. “You can go through decades of music with a really good cover band that reaches out to people of all ages—everything from big band, the Great American Songbook, and the Beatles to the ’80s, ’90s, and anything on the radio today,” she says. DJs, meanwhile, have become increasingly popular with corporate events because they can pull any genre of music from the internet in minutes and also have the setup to serve as announcer.

Budget accordingly

Between food and beverage, décor and design, audio/visual equipment, entertainment and coordination, companies often don’t anticipate the costs, manpower and time involved with pulling off a successful and memorable event, Boes says. Get a feel for how to get the biggest bang for your buck by talking with your planner.

“Budget is key,” says Boes. “It needs to be realistic for what the client is trying to accomplish, and events are expensive.”

Though her agency is based in Pleasant Grove, Johnson collaborates with a nationwide network of entertainment vendors, allowing her to offer thousands of different acts. “I get multiple calls every single day for corporate events,” she says. “Just tell me what you want to have happen at your event. If you’ve got the budget and you want Bruno Mars, I can do it.”