Posts Tagged ‘Taxes’


November 29, 2008

I was reading Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2009 Trend Issue and it became evident that what the editors were saying about “businesses to start in 2009”, could be applied to the live entertainment business.  So with that in mind, and a bunch of extra stuff added, here is the Top 10 Ways To Thrive In Today’s Down Economy


1)       GO GREEN – You have no idea how much money you can save.  Wal-Mart found out.  Appoint a “Green Czar” for your office with the idea of taking your company Carbon Neutral.  One easy way to get your staff into this is to pass a certain percentage of savings onto your employees; although you probably don’t need to do that (it is still a good idea).  Here are some other ones.  Recycling cans and bottles, switching to florescent light bulbs (also added bonus of saving on cooling costs in summer), maintain irrigation systems and change sprinkler heads over to water saving types, car pools, install motion detecting light switches, provide “power strips” for employees to plug all chargers and electronics into (this way one switch shuts off all…most power from electronics is used when the power is actually off), etc.  Also, the simple fact that going green is a trend makes consumers want to associate with your company or product. 


2)       USE TECHNOLOGY – The obvious web/mobile app that will have the most immediate impact on live entertainment is the paperless ticket.  There should be a real financial savings to consumers who choose this option.  When Ticketmaster’s business went from predominantly phone sales to the web, that savings was never passed on to the consumer.  One can argue there is a cost for keeping up with technology, but Ticketmaster would have never switched over if there wasn’t a huge cost savings.  You don’t have to pay for a computer’s healthcare, sick days, taxes, etc, after all. 


3)       MARKET TO BOOMERS – I think the folks from Entrepreneur said it best with boomers represent “the biggest wealth transfer in history”.  Average Net worth: $257,800, Average Annual Income $71,400, 38% expected to inherit $210,000 (average), 35% have already inherited $113,000 (average).  How about a “Financial Show”, couldn’t be better timing right now?


4)       THINK HEALTH – Whether it is something as simple as updating your food and beverage selections, or you are developing a health related consumer show (maybe related to aging, see #3), heath is on everyone’s mind.  You should be thinking about this in your business.  Even keeping up with your staff’s healthcare maintenance can save you money by saving your employees trips to the doctor. 


5)       MARKET TO GENERATION Y – Echo Boomers, or whatever you call them, now number 75 million in the U.S. (Source: Deloitte Consulting), with buying power of $1 trillion (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).  Find ways to reach this game loving, social networking, born on a computer audience and get yourself a piece of that $1 trillion.  Wouldn’t suggest a “gaming tour” or festival just yet.  So far, no one has been able to figure out that model. 


6)       DROP OR RAISE YOUR PRICES – Look at the market.  For every case of an overpriced ticket, there is an under priced one (maybe in another show category, but you can find it).  There are so many examples of events raising their ticket prices and seeing a large sales spike.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true more often. 


7)       CHANGE YOUR MARKETING – We in the live business need to catch-up with the rest of those that market products.  This doesn’t have to be about spending money, but it does have to do with creativity and innovation.  Time to start listening to the young people in your office.


8)       STOP SPAMMING, START COMMUNICATING – I’m as guilty of this as anyone and it must stop.  Just because you have a database and a consumer gives you permission to send them info, doesn’t mean you should be sending them 3 emails per week.  Develop a dialogue with your fans and watch your business flourish. 


9)       FITNESS IS BACK – I would be really interested to see if places like Canyon Ranch are down in this economy.  Either way, fitness is back on consumer’s minds.  How can you work this into what you are doing in your business?  How about staging the world’s largest spinning class where a portion of the proceeds go to Lance Armstrong’s “Live Strong” campaign?  How about installing a small fitness room in your office (you would be surprised how little it can cost)?  It is proven that those that workout have more energy than those that don’t and are able to concentrate on better at work. 


10)     ENERGY – This has to be top-of-mind with most people these days.  Consumers couldn’t be more confused on what the options are, which ones are best, etc.  Create a show that addresses energy, and if it is entertaining and priced right, it will sell for sure.

Please always remember that we are in the live entertainment business.  It is our job to get people out of their homes and make them happy, educate them, and break them out of the funk they are in.

Talk to you soon,







Hospitality is a Profession, so Leave it to Pros

November 9, 2008

I was talking with a friend on Friday who told me they wanted to start a conference.  I’m not going to say much more than that since I don’t want to give away my friend’s idea.  Anyway, it became apparent that my friend didn’t know much about the hospitality, event, or conference businesses. This friend could be in touble if they move forward without getting help.


On Saturday I got an email from my assitant while I worked at CAA, Nicole Provencio.  She’s now at Sketchers Corporate (the shoe company) where her “main job is to book hotels for all trade shows, conferences, and events.  Finding the newest & hottest hotels, getting the best rates, avoiding attrition, etc.”  Sketchers have over 20 annual trade shows alone each year, so they need someone like Nicole…someone with experience.  Sketchers, just like you, must have an experienced person on the other end of the phone or across the table from the hotel, resort, conference center, cruise ship, tour operator, or whoever you are doing business withs’ sales person.  They are certainly experienced and know just what they can and can’t offer.




When Andy Levine from Sixthman told me that there was a difference between doing a big concert or festival and producing a music themed cruise, my ego got the best of me to be honest.  I thought, if I could handle concerts with 200,000 people or manage tours checking 175 people in and out of hotels, tour buses, limos, vans, town cars and airports around the world, I could handle a few thousand drunken music fans and bands on a cruise ship.  I got spanked.  I’m sure Andy laughed.  Nothing takes the place of experience. 



So you don’t have the money to hire a pro to take care of your hospitality.  Here are some helpful hints from a guy with a few years on the road.  Some are obvious, but always worth being reminded.




·     In this economy disposable income is declining which means fewer will travel.  It is a buyers market.

·     When dealing with group sales at hotels, try to speak with someone as far up the food-chain as possible since anything out of the ordinary you may request will have to be run up the ladder anyway.

·     Try to avoid contracts whenever possible.

·     When booking groups, most hotels will insist on a contract.  The first things you need to look at are dates and numbers.  The word ATTRITION will become very important if you are managing your room blocks.  Try and get dates in your contracts where you are able to drop inventory you were not able to fill.  Obviously the closer to your event dates, the better for you. 

·     Before you start negotiating room rates, get an understanding of the hotels “rack rates” and the region’s high, low, and shoulder seasons.  Good deals can always be had…even in “high season” for a property. 

·     Deposits are another place you can push properties now.  They should be looking at this as more of a partnership these days as you are taking real risk to produce and market the event or whatever you are doing.  You should make your deposits as close to your event date as possible. 

·     Other mines to look for in hotel and hospitality contracts include: Buy-out rates and fees (rates go up on rooms for taking an entire property, resort, cruise ship, etc…this is a common practice at some resorts and cruise lines), baggage handling fees, gratuities, taxes on gratuities, ballroom and conference room charges, phone and data lines, hospitality desks, room drops (having materials or gifts delivered to guest’s rooms), copying and business center charges, and lets not forget parking (I went to a conference once where guests paid $50 per day to park their cars and it wasn’t in New York).

·     Food & Beverage becomes a whole new world and language in hospitality and you won’t believe the prices.  In this case, those airplane crash drills where you put your head between your legs and pray may work best. 

·     Not booking groups but want to save money on travel?  Look at the “Limited Service Hotels” popping up everywhere. 


Reality is hospitality is a profession and it pays to hire someone experienced to handle your needs.  Musical artists, their managers and agents go to producers like Andy Levine to do their cruises because he has seen it all.  Sketchers knows to go to Nicole because she booked Aspen Live Conference (Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen…Shameless plug) hotel rooms, transportation, meals, etc, for two years before coming to their company.  My advice, leave hospitality to Andy, Nicole or The Agency Group Events & Entertainment, Ltd. (another shameless plug).


As always, would love your comments and input.




Talk to you soon,