How to Select Entertainment Your Attendees Will Never Forget
Planners, what’s the first thing that always comes to mind when you begin organizing a multi-day corporate program? Do you think of amazing cuisine, specially tailored outings in the destination, and unique accommodations? While these logistics need to come first and rightly so, it’s essential to keep entertainment on the front burner, too. Because, according to Sharon Purewal, managing partner of 360DG who heads up the company’s Northern California offices, event entertainment is often the key that makes a program truly unforgettable. “With everything else planners are figuring out, entertainment can often become an afterthought,” she says. “But, for the attendee, it can be one of the most remembered pieces.”
So how do you select your best entertainment, whether that be for a welcome reception, an awards dinner, a networking event, or all of the above? Purewal delivers the keys to consider while sprinkling in a few unique entertainment ideas for corporate events.
Incorporate Entertainment into Overall Design Plan from the Beginning
Again, because entertainment is one of the most dynamic features of a program, it’s critical to think about it from the start of your planning in order to make sure you get something that truly wows while carving out an appropriate budget. “It needs to be part of the big picture,” notes Purewal. “So make sure you plan with your DMC from the beginning. That’s where 360DG shines – making sure the important things never fall through the cracks.”
Consider the Purpose of Your Event
Love that rock band and think they are a must-have for your next event? But what if the attendees haven’t seen each other in a year, and they’re just getting off of a five-hour flight? Purewal says you should always start with the intention of the event: Is this the welcome night and guests want to catch up with each other? Are you trying to promote interaction among the attendees? Or are you trying to wow them and get their attention directed to the stage before an executive presentation? Or maybe you want to give them an experience that showcases a side of the destination? “Simple background music is great, and oftentimes, just what you need. But even simple entertainment can also make a statement and should always be a means to help facilitate the goal of the event,” she says.
For example, during a reception that 360DG’s San Francisco office organized, the goal was twofold: to showcase how the city is all about celebrating diversity and different cultures, as well as provide an interactive experience for the guests. 360DG partnered with a global fusion band that could go from classical jazz to African drumming to Middle Eastern music by swapping out a few instruments. As the night went on and attendees began to let loose, they were encouraged to pick up some of the additional instruments and play alongside the band. The result: The perfect mix of traditional background in the beginning that amped up to an interactive show. In fact, guests were so engaged that the planner ended up extending the event!
Entertainment Doesn’t Just Mean Music
Like the previous example demonstrates, entertainment can also translate to an activity. In fact, more and more clients of 360DG are asking for what the DMC refers to as “interactive stations” – think akin to a food station, but featuring an activity rather than food. 360DG has brought in everything from terrarium-making stations in Half Moon Bay to barrel-making demos in Napa to live glassblowing in San Francisco.
You can even use entertainment as a “give back” element, like setting up a station where guests can participate in making school supply kits for teachers. Or, a fan favorite, bring in a puppy station – it always excites guests while raising money for the shelter and hopefully helps find a home for some of the furry friends.
Remember, finding unique entertainment is where 360DG excels. Not only do they have vast connections in their specific destinations, but because they have offices all around the country, they are able to share what kinds of unique and novel entertainment ideas and experiences have sprung up in other destinations nationwide.
Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge Your Attendees
While it’s important to keep your audience in mind, Purewal also feels entertainment can be a way to introduce your attendees to something new (and, therefore, create a memorable experience). “I think planners shouldn’t be afraid to step out of the lines a bit. The key is to use the feedback from previous events in previous years to help direct your decisions” she says.
Don’t Be Deterred if an Entertainer Doesn’t Have Press Kits
“Sure, many entertainers have beautiful promotional videos, photos, and press kits,” notes Purewal. “But I’ve worked with some really great local groups that, while they don’t have those items, do just as quality work and are more budget-friendly.” She references a Chinese Lion Dance Troupe she has worked with in the past. While the professional dance group comprised of students does not have the flashy marketing materials, Purewal can attest that they are a huge attention grabber, professional and reliable, and affordable. “It’s important to work with a DMC who can find you those gems and vouch that they are just as good as the pricier options.” Bottom line, trust your DMC!