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The secret to a successful event 

No matter what type of event you are organising — whether it’s a work function, product launch, conference, seminar, award ceremony or wedding — this article will give you a unique insight into what is crucial in creating a successful event. Here you will find the key to holding an event that stays in the memories of your guests as a positive experience for a very long time.

Cast your mind back to events you have attended.
Which ones would you classify as successes?
What was the key element that made them successful?
For the answer to the above question, read on and all will be revealed.

Planning the event
For all the work that goes into the nitty gritty of organising your event — from choosing the venue to compiling the running sheet — there is no doubt a successful event requires meticulous planning. Any event demands a strategic approach to ensuring the essential outcomes are met, such as the event’s theme or concept, meeting your budget and, of course, your deadlines. Successful planning requires a process of checking and double-checking, so there are no hiccups and everything runs smoothly on the day.
The goal is to organise everything in such a way that the event is a positive experience for attendees. In order to ensure that an event meets all these requirements many organisations call on the expertise of professional event organisers; other organisations have dedicated employees for the task.

A memorable event
Ask yourself, what is the most desirable outcome for your event?
Whether your event is a small gathering or a large conference, you want it to be a resounding and memorable success.
This is the most desirable outcome for any event — you want your guests to enjoy themselves and to be entertained and inspired. If the event is a seminar, conference or expo, you want attendees to be informed and impressed.
The best outcome for any event, large or small, is that your attendees retain lasting positive memories about their experience.

Feedback
Requesting feedback about the event from attendees via a questionnaire (either on the day or in a follow-up email) will give you some idea about your event’s successes and/or what could be improved upon for the future. 
But a questionnaire will not necessarily give you all the answers as to what made your event particularly memorable.

Impressions count
There are a number of ways to impress your guests, and often these come at great expense as well, such as hiring a special venue, providing a superb meal and then sending guests home with a branded gift bag full of fabulous goodies.
There is no doubt each and every guest leaves your event with a strong impression of what they enjoyed the most. So what is the best value for money in terms of leaving an impression? Is it the prestigious venue, the speech by a celebrity, or the elaborate dinner?
In many cases it is a combination of elements: the quality of the venue, the catering and the presentations, or perhaps even the camaraderie that develops between guests.
But what is the essential element that will be remembered?
What is it that lifts an event out of the ordinary and makes it a resounding success?

The answer
Repeated research has confirmed the same significant results:

Providing ‘the right’ live entertainment at an event counts for 80% of its success.

These results are related to the overall feeling attendees experienced at the event, and the feelings they retained from the event.
While these results can be measured by adding an additional question to your feedback questionnaire, there is a proven, simple and much more accurate way to gauge the success of your event.
When you see people looking happy and engaged, smiling, tapping their feet, and even dancing, then you are getting instant feedback.
Once again, cast your mind back to the events that you have attended.
What role did live entertainment play in your enjoyment of the event? And what effect did the entertainment have on the overall ambience and atmosphere of the event?

The ‘right’ live entertainment
Getting the right live entertainment also requires careful planning. For example, you don’t want a loud drummer who exacerbates the already poor acoustics of a room, preventing your guests from having conversations.
Nor should you give in to impulsive ideas, such as booking an Hawaiian band and dancers just ‘because it’s something different’.
The entertainment needs to be appropriate, fall within your budget, and add to the overall purpose and success of the event.
Scrolling through hundreds of websites trying to find a band, magician or comedian that looks appropriate, is available, and that fits your budget is a tedious task. It is also pretty much a ‘hit or miss’ process, putting one of the crucial elements for the success of your event at risk.

Help is at hand
You need to talk to experts in live entertainment who work with you as a team. The common goal, then, is to make your event a success.
You need assistance in formulating a creative plan for the live entertainment at your event. Many questions need to be addressed, such as the demographic of your guests, their age group/s, the gender mix, the type of venue, the event’s theme and the production requirements.
Most importantly, you need to achieve the desired outcome for your event and have confidence in the delivery of your expectations.
Live music and other forms of live entertainment come in a myriad of sizes, styles and genres. An expert in the field can quickly provide you with a vast range of unique options.
When dealing with an entertainment agent you have the choice of Roving Magicians, Caricaturists, Make-up Artists, Stilt Walkers, Comedians, Dance Shows, Stage Shows, Tribute Shows, DJs, Meet and Greet Characters, Burlesque Shows, Didgeridoo Players, Fire Dancers, or a range of Professional Speakers, to name just a few of the varied and unique acts at your fingertips.

A dedicated entertainment agent
An expert in the field of live entertainment is most likely to be an entertainment agent, most of whom can be found on the Internet.
Make sure you choose an agent who is prepared to make your event a success from its conception to after the last drinks and plates have been cleared.
Ask the agency about its fee structure, such as what percentage is being charged over and above what the act is being paid. Ensure there are protections in place if you are dissatisfied or the act fails to meet your expectations.

A good (honest) agent has:
• ‘Real’ acts on their books, with whom they have a trusting relationship;
• Seen these acts perform live, and regularly monitors their performance;
• An established relationship with their acts, and can hire them for less than you can;
• ‘Communicative acts’ who have the same goal — making your event a success;
• Acts who conduct themselves professionally and who dress appropriately for the occasion;
• Acts that work with detailed transparent job briefs;
• A money-back guarantee.

Robert Hurkmans is Managing Director of The Honest Agent – Entertainment
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