Read This Before Booking Corporate or Wedding Entertainment via an Agency

Using an Entertainment Agency to Booking your Wedding or Corporate Event Entertainment


Note: I feel like I should mention at the outset that this post isn’t an attack on entertainment agencies, talent agencies or the like. I’m very lucky in that I get to work alongside some fabulous ones. This is just a post about my experiences about working with them and how you can get the most from them.

I was recently browsing a wedding forum, searching for blog post inspiration from amongst the questions brides and grooms (let’s face it, mostly brides) had about booking their wedding entertainment.

One member asked about bands and, specifically, for some advice regarding how to know if they’re any good or not.

“Just contact an agency” replied someone, trying to be helpful, “they do lots of events and have lots of acts. That way you know you’re getting a good act that they’ve vetted – it takes all the worry out of it”.

This sounds logical and seems to make a lot of sense and, to be fair, there are a lot of good reasons for booking entertainment through an agency (I’d do myself out of business by exploring them here though!).

Entertainment Agencies can offer a sense of security that doesn’t often come with handing a large amount of money over to a wedding magician you’ve just met over the internet.

So, if booking entertainment via an agency sounds like great advice, why am I writing this blog post?

Let me ask you a question.

“How can you book a magician to perform at a corporate event, for 8 people, mix and mingle style, for 3 hours?”

Give yourself 23 points if you wrote down – “when you book it through an agency”.

A few years ago, I got an enquiry from an entertainment agency. They had been approached by a corporate client who wanted a magician to entertain their entire staff at their Christmas party. The client had booked a function room at a hotel in the Midlands for this and so the agency asked what my price would be for a three-hour performance.

So I told them.

They laughed (that’s never a good sign).

So I rolled my three dice and came up with another figure*.

Now I, like the agency, just presumed that this was going to be a standard “corporate Christmas party” – where 100 or so colleagues ate copious amounts of food, drank even copious-er (yes, I know that’s not a word, but it’s my blog) amounts of alcohol and tried to get off with Bernice from accounts.

Booking Entertainment Via An Agency - Bernice from Accounts
Bernice, from accounts.

When I phoned the client a few weeks before to check the final details and timings of the event, she had a question:

( If you’ve been tasked with planning the office Christmas party and want to learn how to actually ENJOY planning a corporate event, click here )

“It seems a bit long…three hours. Is that usual?”

“Yes” replied I, confident in my expertise as a corporate magician. “it’s pretty standard for a corporate event. It allows me to work the first part of the evening as all the guests arrive, to help break the ice and create some laughter. It also takes a lot of the pressure off you as host. I can then work between courses of the meal and then a little afterwards too, just to make sure I get to see everyone”.


Something was coming. I could tell.

“…there are only 8 of us!”


It turns out that the room the client had booked (which the agency and I had presumed to be a big, fancy hall) was, in fact, a small library room and the “entire staff” was just those 8 people. There would be no cocktail reception, no copious amounts of alcohol.

And no Bernice from accounts.

Just 8 people sat in a room, watching magic.

For three hours.

Now, I LOVE magic, but even I would be looking for sharp objects to jam into my eyeballs if I was forced to watch magic for three hours straight without a break.

I spoke to the client and came up with a more suitable solution that they were much happier and more comfortable with (instead of close up magic for 3 hours, I did it for 2 hours 57 minutes – a much better solution).

It’s not entirely the fault of the entertainment agency, though better fact-finding questions could certainly have prevented this from ever being a problem. Maybe the client could’ve mentioned their concerns to the agency, who would surely have realised and suggested an alternative.

Here’s the problem with just blindly using an agency:

It’s the dangerous assumption that an agency is a simple one-click solution to the problem.

Using an agency doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility of organising a fabulous corporate event. It’s still on you, so check that they have your best interests at heart, and are not trying to wring every last penny out of you.

Read This Before Booking With An Entertainment Agency - Show Me The Money!

( Planning a corporate event? Here are 5 important questions you need to ask before you start! )

You can’t expect an agent, or anyone else for that matter, to be able to deliver you the perfect entertainer when you give them minimal information. When a client phones or emails me for a quote, I want to know as much as possible about their event:

Not only time, place and guests numbers, but also:

  • What kind of guests are they (age, sense of humour, family, friends)
  • What’s worked in the past with these people?
  • What kind of things do they like?
  • What would a great night look like for you?
  • What’s important to you about this party?
  • What colour underwear are you wearing?
  • Where do you keep your spare keys?
  • What’s your maiden name?

(I’ll be honest, a few of those are lies, though you can tell me the answers if you want).

As you can see, it’s not a paint by numbers approach, where the time quoted is in proportion to the number of guests. Sadly, this isn’t the time when those trigonometry skills you learned in school FINALLY come in useful.

No, that’s never going to happen. Maths is never useful. Trust me, I’m a magician.

Read This Before Booking Via an Entertainment Agency - Maths

As corporate entertainers, we have a great opportunity to discover exactly how we can shape our performance to suit YOU, YOUR guests and YOUR party, and, unless we start asking questions like those above, we’ll never tap into that opportunity.

So, if you want to use an entertainment agency as a way to increase your peace of mind, or to save yourself some time when planning an event, you should totally do that, but don’t use it as an excuse for doing the hard work.

The onus is still on YOU to do the legwork and ask the questions. After all, if you’re organising a corporate event, it’s YOUR neck on the chopping block if it goes belly up, not the agencies! You’re the one that has to turn up on Monday morning at 9 am and face everyone.

You can’t just shave your head, get a tan and move to Bangladesh like you did last time.

The good news is that you know these people. You’ve been to lots of parties with these guys before, so you’ve probably got a good idea of what they like and don’t like; what will work and what definitely won’t.

So put in the time to think about your corporate event, your guests and your celebration. Think about what would make it perfect, and make sure you communicate all of this to the agency.

By all means, listen to any ideas they have, but respect the fact that YOU know your colleagues, friends and family better than anyone else.

* This is undoubtedly one of the stupidest ways to come up with a price I’ve ever created – though I’ve always secretly wanted to use it. I’m only including it in the faint hope it becomes a standard business practice of the future and I can lay claim to it.

Arranging a wedding or corporate event is hard work. Hopefully, some of the advice above will give you a helping hand but, if you’re still worried about getting your guests laughing and having a fabulous time, I can help….


I’m a corporate magician and entertainer who specialises in putting smiles on faces.

I can get your guests laughing and having a fabulous time at YOUR next corporate event. It’ll be sooo much better than last year, and it’ll allow you to relax and enjoy yourself!

“The FUNNIEST magician I’ve ever seen!”

“He was hugely entertaining, with a real sense of mischievous fun! Our guests loved him!