Event Entertainment Budget – Do’s & Don’ts

Event Entertainment Budget – Do’s & Don’ts

Planning an event entertainment budget is often overlooked on its importance.

Creating an event budget helps you stay focused on where your funds are going. But one important piece of the puzzle that most articles leave out, is event entertainment.

All too often, event planners contact entertainment as a final thought. They already have the venue, meal and any awards or speakers set.

Now they want something to cap off the evening!

Why Is Event Entertainment So Important?

Your entertainment is often the last thing your people see and experience. It not only can affect the mood of the evening, but also create a lasting impression of your events.

Think Of It This Way …

You spend good money on your caterer and serving staff. Your time and energy go into selecting the entrees, salads, side dishes, and hor'douvres.

The meal isn't cheap! And then add in the alcohol. Even a cash bar has expenses for staff.

How Long Does Your Meal Last?

Generally for a sit down meal you allot an hour. Depending on the size of your audience, how on the ball your caterer is and the efficiency of the serving staff, it may run over.

For a buffet, that hour serving time is about right too.

But serving 500 meals isn't easy. The chef needs to plate the food and keep it warm. Warm food tends to continue cooking, which means it can dry out for some diners.

It is a proven fact that not everyone in your group will like the meal, no matter how hard you or the caterer try.

Even though you spent a large part of your evening's budget on food and service.

How Long Does Your Entertainment Last?

Most event planners tend to plan about an hour for entertainment, unless they are hiring a band.

For a speaker, corporate comedian, ventriloquist, magician, juggler or other type of variety corporate entertainment, the hour may shorten slightly depending on their act.

So if your dinner and your entertainment run roughly the same time, doesn't it make sense to budget similarly for your corporate entertainer?


If your meal is delicious and your event entertainment is poor, people will walk away from your event with a bad impression.

If your meal is bad, but your event entertainment captures the audience, most people will forget about the meal and be swept along in the mood upswing entertainment provides.

Of course, both could be good – or both could be bad. Hopefully your event will be great!

Event Entertainment Budget – Do's:

Do plan your entertainment budget into your event budget.

Do allocate enough funding to make certain you can afford quality entertainment.

Do remember that the entertainment may also require certain AV equipment that can add to your AV budget.

Event Entertainment Budget – Don'ts

Don't try to save money on the entertainment. It is as important to your event as your meal. Possibly more so since it is the lasting impression of your hard planning.

Don't rush into hiring entertainment. Weigh all proposals and make an educated decision based on the merits each form of entertainment offers.

Yes you want to book your entertainer before their schedule fills, but don't allow that to become a pressure point.

Things To Know:

Just as your venue, caterer and other vendors, your entertainment will likely require a deposit. Know how much and the due dates on payments.

Some entertainers demand full payment before they leave home. Others take a deposit to reserve the date and accept the balance just before or at the event.

Remember that your entertainment is a business too. They have expenses and time involved with your event.

Make sure you receive the entertainment's technical rider as a part of the contract. You will want to make certain your AV company can provide the required needs at an expense you can afford.

If your event entertainment surprises you by coming in under budget, congratulations. Remember that all acts are different.

Like with anything else, paying more doesn't always mean you are getting the best. That is why it is important to review each proposal to find entertainment that is right for your audience.

The event entertainment budget is just one aspect of an entire event budget. For that reason we are including some links to some of the best event budget planning articles available on the Internet.


Event Budgeting: How To Master Your Event Budget


How To Create Your Event Budget

If you have any questions about setting up your event entertainment budget, or hiring entertainers, don't hesitate to reach out to Tom.

When Your Event Schedule Gets Screwed

When Your Event Schedule Gets Screwed

Events seldom go exactly as planned.

Things change. Something unexpected pops up. Or someone does something you hadn't planned.

That isn't always bad, but it can be frustrating for an event planner and sometimes the vendors.

When people not familiar with events plan things, they tend to add too much to the schedule. This causes a rush trying to get things finished.

People not familiar with the flow of an event don't always understand they are just a small part of the overall picture.

I'm going to share two stories of different events in this article. In both cases there is a single simple solution to help prevent this from happening to you.

The first event was a major party for a family run company.

It was New Year's Eve. The company had arranged an elaborate set up and hired an expensive caterer.

To open the event, they hired a magician who was to perform for five minutes. As soon as he was finished, the waiters would swoop in with trays of food for all the guests.

The magician did his five minutes, then said, “I don't have to be at my next show for another hour, so let me do one more trick for you.”

In his mind, he was “adding value” to the client by doing more than he was paid for.

But in the kitchen area, people went nuts.

The food was piping hot and on the trays. The staff was ready for the cue to swoop in.

The magician did another 20 minutes.

  • The food was no longer hot.
  • The caterer was angry.
  • The entire party was now 20 minutes behind schedule.

It caused the event planner to cut back on other entertainment & activities for that party so they could be ready for midnight.

The President …

I was the headline entertainment for an association banquet. My contracted show time was 8:00 PM.

After the meal, the president of the association wanted to wait a few minutes before he got up to give his speech. He wanted people to be able to go for a bathroom break and grab another drink at the bar.

He finally went on stage about 8:00 to give his welcome and introduce the speaker who was on before me.

His welcome included a quick story he wanted to share. It took him 25 minutes to tell this. Then he remembered something related to share, and the second quick story ran about 18 minutes.

His introduction for the speaker, who was a friend, went on for at least 6 minutes.

The speaker got up and did a 15 minute speech.

During this the event planner was apologizing to me and said I would be on immediately following the short video they had. I told her not to worry, I was her's for the evening. That is my policy.

The speaker finished and the President introduced the video, which was short as the planner had promised.

The event planner was just about to introduce me when the President stood and walked back onto the stage.

He wanted to introduce the division leaders and have them say a few words.

I talked to the event planner and asked how long they had the room. Her reply was 10:00, but not to shorten my show, she would handle it.

I went on at 9:45 pm. My 45 minute set ended at 10:30 to a standing ovation. The event planner was happy, the event ended on a strong note. She was less happy the budget now had to cover extra pay for the hotel staff.

In both of these situations, the magician and president, were too absorbed in their own part and didn't realize how it would affect anyone else.

That is why it is important for you, as an event planner, to make sure everyone is aware of the big picture.

Had the magician known the food would be plated during his act and needed to come out in exactly 5 minutes, he might have stuck to his time. (If he was a professional …)

Had someone talked with the association president, they would have probably remembered to include the division introductions on the schedule and created time for that.

They could also have discussed the importance of keeping things on schedule. Even if the president is long winded, he would keep his eye on the time to avoid additional expenses.

I've actually had people say, “Well, he/she is the president, so he/she can do what he/she wants.”

He or she is a person. Chances are, events are not his or her specialty. Share the information. I bet the president understands cost overruns and budgets.

It needs to be spelled out. Not just for the entertainer, or caterer or president/CEO – but for everyone involved in any phase of the event.

Show your people the big picture and they will take more pride in their contribution to the event's success.

An Additional Note:

Do you have delay clauses in your event contracts?

Talk to your vendors and entertainers to find out their policy before you sign.

Time is money.

Some entertainers charge extra for each 15 minutes of wait beyond their contracted show time.

I know some entertainers who book multiple shows on the same night. If your event runs long, they cut the show short, or leave without performing and still expect pay.

While I understand these reasons, I do not operate that way.

The night of your event, it is my only focus. I set and soundcheck before your guests arrive. That way you know I am there and ready to go.

It allows you to relax and not worry if the entertainer will show up.

If your event runs long, it isn't a problem.

I'm there to help you be successful. I can start when you need me. I can tailor my show to fit your time frame.

You pay for this level of service in my fee. There are no additional surprises to your budget.

If you are planning an event – contact me to discuss your entertainment needs. I'd be happy to help, or offer suggestions that may better suit your event & audience.

Your Corporate Entertainment Budget

Your Corporate Entertainment Budget

Let's talk about your entertainment budget.

I received an interesting inquiry the other day. The company was having a sit down meal for 375 – 400 people.

This event was to be held at a high end establishment in a major city.

We discussed the event, their audience, their goals and needs.

Then I asked the question …

What is your entertainment budget?

The event planner went silent, then asked me, well what do you charge?

I explained that each event is different.

I would need to check flights, rooms, ground transportation, and my schedule, before I could work up a quote.

If their budget was sufficient, I have no problem doing that.

If their budget wasn't large enough, I could make other recommendations and save us both time.

The planner told me she was not authorized to reveal her budget. Her employer was afraid someone would jack up their price and charge them the entire amount.

If you need a car and have the budget for a Honda, you would not walk into a Lamborghini dealership and look around. You couldn't afford it and it would be a waste of the dealer's and your time.

Corporate entertainment acts range from the inexpensive to the ultra high end. No two acts are the same. Different experience, different skills, different abilities.

I told the planner this, and she relented. They had an entertainment budget of: $500 available.

I can't recommend an act in that price range. I wouldn't be sure of the quality. Instead I recommended they contact an event professional in their area for assistance.

The amount certainly wouldn't cover my travel costs to their event.

This revelation saved us both time. And time is valuable.

They could continue their search for an act and I could continue serving my clients.

When I decided to write about this encounter, I did some checking. The venue where they were holding their event was high end.

They would be having a cocktail hour. For one hors d'oeuvres alone, they would be paying $2,160 or $5.40 per person.

A second hors d'oeuvers serving would be $5.80 per person.

The open bar for their event would cost around $32.50 per person.

Their dinner entree was listed as $38.00 per plate.

So the company's per person meal expense would be at least $81.70. I am sure they were having more than 2 hors d'oeuvers and I didn't add in dessert, gratuities, taxes and if any, room costs.

Their entire entertainment budget was only $1.25 per person.

Do you see the problem?

The entertainment was to follow the meal.

It would consume almost an hour of their event time. (As long as the sit down portion of their meal.)

It would be the last impression of the company's event.

And they were trying to save money on the one thing that can save their evening.

“He was so entertaining, my employees are still stopping by my office today, the Monday after our Saturday event, and telling me how great the entertainer Tom Crowl was. Thanks again Tom.”

Karen F. Jerr-Dan Corporation, PA.
Karen F.

“You will be hard to follow!! Everyone is still laughing about the
human puppets routine – loved it! Thanks again!”

Carma L. Hutchinson Mayrath
Carma L.

“He is incredible to work with and does a wonderful job
personalizing his routine to fit the need of the client!”

Shanna B. Oxy Permian, Midland, TX
Shanna B.

“Thank you so much – EVERYONE was raving about how great you were…”

Megan S. Lancashire Hall
Megan S.
I've been to high end meals where the food does not turn out as expected. Maybe things run over and the food sat in the warmer too long.

Dried out chicken or meat changes the desired effect on your guests.

And it happens.

When or if it happens, do you want to follow it with cheap entertainment?

A $500 act may be good for a fair or civic group, but when you are trying to impress your guests, you should invest in your corporate entertainment.

I am not the right act for every event, but I still want you to succeed.

Your success means that one day you may hold an event where I would be the right corporate entertainer to entertain your guests.

So if you are holding an event, reach out to me. Let's talk.

If I'm not a good fit, I will do my best to point you in the direction of someone who can help.

Thanks for reading this and I wish you an amazing event!

Start the conversation about your event.

All information remains confidential. I'd love an opportunity to help you shine!

    Your Name: (required)

    Your Email: (required)

    Contact Number:

    Tell us about your event:

    Holiday Party Entertainment Ideas For Work

    Holiday Party Entertainment Ideas For Work

    Top 5 Holiday Party Entertainment Ideas For Work

    A work Christmas party is a great way to allow your co-workers to relax and have fun. The party is a way to show exactly how much your firm appreciates all their hard work. Plus it makes the holiday season a bit more festive.

    Planning a work Christmas party is a big job. But you have a major advantage over other types of corporate entertainment events. At holiday parties, everyone wants to have fun. So your job as the planner is to create a positive atmosphere. When the guests have a great time the event is remembered as a success.

    And the biggest secret
    to a successful holiday party
    is to find the right entertainment!

    Sure, you need great food and drink. But the entertainment for Christmas parties is what makes the event memorable.

    Chances are you have a wide age range of employees. It can be difficult to appeal to everyone. That is why we put together this list of 5 holiday party entertainment ideas. Chances are good, one of these suggestions will be an answer your employees will love:



    Tom with AGT Ventriloquist Darci Lynne

    Seriously? Of course.

    First, you have the age range issue solved:
    Older employees will remember the days of Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, Paul Winchell, Senor Wences or Shari Lewis & Lambchop.

    Younger employees (and some older) may be fans of Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator, Paul Zerdin or the young America's Got Talent ventriloquist Darci Lynne.

    Second, you have something unique. There are only a handful of professional ventriloquists in the United States. Ventriloquism isn't a performance you often witness live.

    Third, you have comedy. People love to laugh. A ventriloquist provides a mixture of comedy and visual appeal that a stand up comedian can't. Tom even personalizes his programs to create a unique show specific to your company.

    … never failed to include the audience in every aspect of his show. By doing so, Tom Crowl created a fun and comfortable atmosphere for everyone.

    – Abbi Murray – The Courier

    So if you want to give your party a comedy boost a comedy ventriloquist is the way to go!



    Let your employees shine. Although many prefer to relax during the holiday season, others enjoy the spotlight. If your office has talent, why not showcase it? Set up a few “judges” from your management team and do a take-off on AGT. Cash or gift card prizes and a bonus gift for everyone who participates can fuel memorable fun.

    One note for this type of program though. While it can save your entertainment budget, there can be pitfalls. Acts that run too long, or a string of so-so acts can bring down the room's energy.

    If you decide to try this type of holiday party entertainment, we suggest hiring a professional emcee. They help to coordinate the “acts” and keep the program moving. Plus a skilled emcee can gauge the energy of the room and save the show if things start to go south. While your co-worker may be funny and popular, the emcee spot is best left to someone with more experience.



    Another fun holiday party idea for work is the dance competition. Let your guests show off their mad skills as the crowd cheers them on.

    This event can be a feature if your holiday party uses a DJ or band.

    No doubt you've been to a party where people complained about sound levels or types of music played. The dance competition gives everyone something to focus on and enjoy. Who wouldn't want to see their co-workers cut a rug!



    Adults love to be amazed when the magic is good. Finding the right magician for your holiday party helps to create a relaxed feeling.

    Plus magic offers a lot of flexibility. For large events, an illusionist can fill your stage. For smaller events, a stand up magician can wow the crowd. Magic even lends itself to roving atmosphere entertainment. Nothing is more amazing than a trick performed in your own hands.

    Looking for a magician? Contact: Mike Rose!



    A bit of gambling can be fun too. And it is legal when money isn't changing hands. Give your employees chips and let them play some Poker, Blackjack or Roulette.

    The mingling atmosphere of gaming offers a chance to socialize. Plus, at the end of the evening allow your employees to donate their chips to charity. Spreading the season of giving, helping others and creating goodwill for your company.

    Give these corporate party entertainment ideas a try. You'll find your employees laughing, relaxing and bonding in the true spirit of the holiday season.


    If we can be of any help with your holiday party entertainment, contact our office now!

    When Hiring a Corporate Entertainer

    When Hiring a Corporate Entertainer

    Hiring a corporate entertainer?

    There’s a lot to think about. After all, you want the best possible entertainer to ensure your guests stay engaged, focused, and happy with the entertainment, but it can be tough to decide if you’re going to get that by just simply reading a website. Before you sign any contracts, you may want to take the following tips into account.

    One of the first things you should do before you select the right corporate entertainer to meet your needs is take a look at a few different videos. Many corporate entertainers post videos on their sites or on sites like YouTube so people can get a feel for their style and what they’re capable of. These videos are a great way to see if an entertainer’s style is going to meet your needs.

    Second, and you may want to do this while you’re actually watching the video, make certain the entertainer you’re thinking about hiring actually has some experience in the corporate setting. A comedian, for example, may be hilarious in a night club, but can they hack it in front of your staff members and still keep things funny?

    Finally, make certain the entertainer you’re considering can offer you a personalized show.

    You want someone who can literally customize the show to meet your needs, adding in special keywords or even the names of staff members to help your guests truly connect with the event. The last thing you want at your next event is generic entertainment your guests could see by sitting at home in front of the television. Selecting someone who will customize the show just for you ensures that you get a one-of-a-kind show your guests simply can’t see anywhere else.

    As you work through your list of potential entertainers, make certain they offer a no obligation consultation call to help you determine if they’re the act to meet your needs. Don’t sign a contract until you've actually spoken with your potential act!

    For more information on hiring corporate entertainers, contact our office.

    Corporate Event Planning Concepts – How To Avoid Ruining Your Event

    Corporate Event Planning Concepts – How To Avoid Ruining Your Event

    Corporate Event Planning Concepts
    To Save Your Event From Ruin

    You spend the time to find a great corporate entertainer. They are highly recommended, their video is incredible and you've gotten rave recommendations from their past clients.  You just know your guests will love them too!

    But things don't go as planned.  The entertainer doesn't click with your guests. People aren't paying and some are even walking out the door.  You've paid a lot of money and the act totally bombed.


    Entertainment MUST be framed properly or it WILL fail.

    Event planners often place their event entertainers in a no-win situation.  It is important to understand exactly what your entertainment needs to succeed.  Let us give you some examples:

    Audiences need to be close to feel like they are part of the experience. Often event planners will place a dance floor in front of the stage, or leave a wide gap between the stage and the tables.  When that happens the entertainer and guests are unable to form a connection.  So keep tables and chairs close to the stage!

    Guests need to be able to see the stage. If they can't, they won't pay attention.  If your room has columns, plan the seating so everyone has a clear view of the stage.  Don't allow the centerpieces to obstruct site lines either!

    Plan for a sound system that is designed to handle the room and your guest capacity. Nothing is worse than trying to understand muffled ceiling speakers. If your entertainment can't be heard, you've wasted your budget.

    Put Your Entertainment On Immediately After Dinner.

    The evening is about your guests!  Once the CEO has spoken, or the awards are presented, phones come out to check emails, people realize the babysitter is on the clock, and they begin thinking about other things. Suddenly your group starts to unravel. Now let's bring the entertainer into this environment and expect them to succeed. It could happen, but the odds are not in their favor.

    When your entertainment hits the stage immediately following dinner, the energy in the room rises.  People are laughing, having fun and by the time the show is over, they eagerly anticipate the awards and speeches.  Everything seems to move faster when your guests in a great mood.

    So how do you want people to remember your event? As a fun time, or a time drag? Follow this advice and make your next corporate event one they will remember!

    When planning your next corporate event, contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will help you find corporate entertainment that your guests will love!

    For More Corporate Event Planning Concepts, Tips and Ideas, check out the suggested articles below: