Thursday, February 20, 2014

Awards Banquet Struggles

Heather has the responsibility to run this year's awards dinner banquet. She is dreading the task. "The past 5 years the awards banquet has become a nightmare.  Low attendance, long speeches, little entertainment, and bad jokes which make the evening a long, drawn out affair have become a standard at this event. Making it worse, the same boring people are asking to be presenters", says Heather.

Heather is looking to change the awards dinner banquet and is starting with the entertainment.  After all, the past five years a DJ was hired. Why not get something different? she thought, and researched banquet acts. Happily, I can say "she called me."

I listen to what Heather envisioned.  She painted a beautiful picture, something that reminded me of the Oscars, or Tony Awards. The conversation kept coming back to how long, boring, and how much time was wasted on the presentation. It was not so much that she was looking for an act, but more of an Emcee to smoothen out the rough spots and make the evening enjoyable.

As much as I want to say that show will solve the problem, I knew in my hearts of hearts that she needed a good Emcee.  A professional Emcee will transform a mundane awards show into a remembered evening.

I told Heather, "I would love to entertain your audience, and I'm going to send you a quote, but it sounds like an Emcee would really help your event."  Heather was thrown for a loop. She had talked to several acts, and none of those acts had mentioned the word "Emcee".  Most just pushed their act.

I recommended to Heather to look at the National Speaker Association (NSA), Toastmasters, or Funny-Business Agency that specializes in Comedian. Find a professional who has the skill set to Emcee at an awards banquet.

Sad to say, Heather did not book me for this engagement.  In fact, she kept the DJ and hired an Emcee.  I am still on Heather radar, and she has assured me that the company has other events where my entertainment would be more beneficial and lucrative.

Take Away Tips

  1.     Do not assume changing the entertainment act will solve the problem.
  2.     A professional emcee can improve an awards dinner banquet by 100%.
  3.     Control the presentation and keep it fun and interesting.
  4.     Work with people who have your best interest at heart.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How a New Business Packed it's Store this Holiday Season

It has been three long months, hundreds of brain twisting decisions, and finally the store is open, just in time for the upcoming holiday walk sponsored by the Downtown Business Association. Each year the Downtown Business Association advertises a holiday walk through town to local residents, which crowds the streets each year.

Clair is a managing partner in the company.  For the past year she has been taking her life's savings and investing it in the store.  She is determined to take advantage of the holiday walk by generating foot traffic into the store.

The store specializes in two areas, kid's haircuts, and a Blow Dry Bar for adults.  The goal was to lure parents and mothers into the store.  Clair sat in the plush salon chair and slowly spun in a circle, until she felt dizzy.  "Champagne, we'll give out glasses of champagne, and maybe some wine!" Clair blurts out to her partners across the room.  We can get somebody to play music, make the store festive. That should draw people!" chimes in an employee who is busy placing the last of the holiday decorations.

Later that afternoon, Clair is on the phone with an entertainment agent going through their roster of talent. Some sound interesting, others just did not fit the bill.  One act that did sound promising was a balloon entertainer who has worked Grand Openings, has experience with holiday walks, and can give a sales pitch while performing.  Something Clair never considered; using a professional pitchman to help promote the store.

After several meetings with fellow partners, and going back and forth with the entertainment agency, Clair settles on a musician and a promotional balloon entertainer.

Like clockwork people slowly started to fill the streets, and Clair was ready.  She schedules the entertainer for 1.5 hours, and the musician for the full four hours.  Clair was taking no chances and placed both entertainers in the store windows, positioned the Champagne/wine bar in a direct path with the open door so passers by could see.

As Clair oversees the activities she noticed that the promotional balloon entertainer was not in his window, but instead was outside gathering a small crowd of kids.  A minute later, like the pied piper, he walks in with a parade of kids in tow.

She watched. The kids do not have any adults with them, but he is making these outlandish hats. The group of girls are giggling and pointing at each other and seeing who can take the best selfie with their entire hat in the picture. It was comical to watch these girls.

Off the girls go, and Clair hears her entertainer say; "Now when asked where you got the balloons, you are going to say.....and in unison they shouted out the store name. Clair instantly knew what he was doing and applauded his willingness to help draw the crowds.

Minutes later, Clair was busy pouring champagne, and talking with mothers as they filled the store to capacity.  Apparently, the word had spread.....the balloon guy is down the street, in the beauty salon.

Clair had to make the decision to let the balloon guy go and risk losing a big attraction, or using the remaining budget and keep it going.  Clair had retained some of the budget for emergency and extended the entertainer's time. Not once, not twice, but three times she extends the end time, until the partners agreed, the balloons are a massive draw and we keep going as long as people are coming.

Clair shuts the doors an hour after the holiday walk ended. She had spent her entire budget, passed out hundreds of fliers, and was overwhelmed by the turnout.  She even learned something new, that the balloon entertainer was attracting families from the family restaurant across the street.  Something she will have to keep in mind for future events or maybe work out a mutual marketing program with the restaurant.

Take Away Points

  • Take advantage of any community events to advertise your company
  • Commit to professional entertainment, they are the ambassadors to potential clients
  • Do not hide the talent; make it easy for people to find
  • Keep a small reserve in your budget for emergencies
  • Build working relationships with neighboring businesses

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How HR Planned an Employee Appreciation Party

"The Human Resources Department is the dumping ground for management projects," announces Betty to her husband over dinner.  "This afternoon the VP walked into our office and announced that we are going to have an employee appreciation party next month and wants all departments to interact. Then he tells me that I am in charge, and it is for the entire office. Plus, it needs to be fun and interactive. Then he told us he was late for a meeting and left.

He doesn’t release we have over 500 people and I need to find a location off-site, transportation, food, and entertainment…arrrg, I hate it when these people just drop their work on me and now it my responsibility!"erupts Betty.

The next day, Betty's first goal is to find a venue that can accommodate 500 people.  After spending the entire morning searching the internet, making phone calls, and asking friends on Facebook for ideas she nails it down three venues; the Science Museum, Shedd Acquire, and the Odyssey Cruise Chicago at Navy Pier.  These three venues have dates open, activities, meals, and are all-inclusive, making the planning easier for this last minute event.

With all the information gathered, Betty marches into the VP's office and presents her findings. The VP is a yachtsmen, and so he selected the Odyssey Cruise at Navy Pier. He then selected the one food option that Betty wisely presented to him.  She knew better not to give management a list of food options.

Make the decision process simple and quick. Betty learned this from working with other managers who "needed to survey" the employees taste buds and eventually fell on Betty to question, tally, and, after days and weeks of gathering information, do what they wanted.

Betty's next concern was trying to figure out how to get the various departments interacting at the event.  What can we get that would have people interacting and socializing?  Betty went back to the Internet googling for entertainers when she found an entertainer who used balloons as an icebreaker for hospitality entertainment. She had been looking at websites all day long and this one was the first site that spoke to her needs.

Betty stared at her monitor looking at colorful balloon art, when it popped into her head.  "Theme the decks!" The Odyssey has three different decks, and she could theme each deck with different music, different acts, and have entertainment that could be moved between decks seamlessly and interact with employees throughout the four hour cruise.

Betty now had a goal.  Each deck had a theme, and entertainment was selected based on that theme, and yes, the person that sparked her ideas was hired.

With minutes to spare the first chartered busload of employees were disembarking.  HR staff were putting the finishing touches on each theme deck, entertainers were positioned and waiting for employees to embark on their day of fun.

Betty was beside herself that she accomplished so much in so little time. Now it was time to sit back and wait for the boat to push off and set sail.

Take Away Points 

  • Define a list of priorities – what must be accomplished ASAP – Venue - Transportation
  • Find All Inclusive Venue – Food, drinks, rest rooms, and parking all in one location
  • Limit Options – when seeking approval and keep control over the project
  • Establish a Theme –  Themes are the glue that give purpose for all activities
  • Avoid repeating past mistakes, learn from each event planned
  • Hire professionals who have experience and can address your needs

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cancelling the Event

"The heat index is heading to 110, so stay in" advised the radio DJ.  That was not what

Debbie wanted to hear as she drove to the mall.  Today was the first of five events that Debbie planned to have at the outside mall.

With a heat index soaring to 110, I'm going to need more shade, otherwise people are going to cook on the concrete patio, she thought.

Several phone calls later the realization sets in that tenting is out of the budget. She must go forward as planned. 

Debbie arrives early to insure that all is being setup properly and to meet with the mall representative who hired Debbie's company to produce the events.

With the heat index reaching dangerous levels, and a pitiful turn out for the first two morning events, mall management decides that, for public safety, they would cancel all remaining afternoon and evening events. Debbie is informed over the phone.

Now, the scramble starts, cancelling the remaining events and keeping participating agents and entertainers happy.   Canceling an event is harder then producing because of cancelling penalties, which clients seem to overlook, and causes headaches when management finds out that they are still on the the hook for the majority of the cost.

"Hi, I have some bad news. The mall has cancelled the event", says Debbie.

A disappointing "OK" is uttered. "I'm glad you called, I'm still at home and haven't left yet", says the voice.
"I'm working with mall management to reschedule your balloon entertainment for the next event, and hopefully we can extend the hours to make up for this cancellation", says Debbie.

"Since this was a 1 hour event, lets just scrap it, and change the tentative hold dates to confirm bookings“, says the voice.

"I can't promise anything, but I will try to schedule you for a longer time to make up the difference.  I've worked with this client for years and they are a fair company", Debbie explains.

Debbie was happy to find an entertainer who was giving her room to wiggle out of the cancellation policy. She knew the others were not going to be so accommodating, but she was trying to save the client money.

Debbie appreciated all the vendors who worked with her, and reworked the last four events with mall management to join the remaining events into one big event lasting five hours , instead of singular events happening throughout the day.

This new format allowed Debbie to keep her word and rescheduled the balloon entertainer for five, multiple hour events.

Take away Points:

  • Have a backup plan for all weather conditions, and safety procedures.
  • Understanding all cancellation policies and make an amendments if necessary.
  • Have emergency telephone numbers handy.
  • Be creditable and keep any promises made.
  • Building a business relationship is about understanding, commitment, and the willingness to work together to overcome unforeseen obstacles.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Secret of Planning a Company Christmas Party

Sarah has been with the company for three months now and has been given the grand task of planning the company's Christmas party.  "What do I know about planning a party?" she thought.  I am 25 years old, have no rug rats, and my kind of party is a keg with beer pong. 

Sarah's predecessor, Margaret, recently left the company after 12 years to raise her third child. Margaret was a Pinterest person, the type that would bookmark ideas and file them for future use. 

Sarah came across many of these documents left behind by Margaret. However, Margaret's folder, which read Christmas Party Ideas, contained an old list of employees, vendors' addresses, and an old coupon for a discontinued restaurant chain.  Apparently, Margaret was not leaving her ideas behind.

Sarah is frustrated, so she pours her soul out to her best friend Becky as she swigs down a cold Miller Lite. Becky hands Sarah a card and says, "This guy was at a business expo I attended.  He was funny and made some cool stuff with balloons. You should give him a call."

The next day, Sarah visited with the Human Resource Department and Accounting. There she was able to calculate the number of families that attended, gathered receipts for toys purchased, found the name of the banquet facility, along with a couple miscellaneous purchase from years past.  With this new data in hand, she was able to secure a hall and food.  Entertainment was here next priority, and this Balloon-dude was next on the list.  

"Hi, I'm calling about some balloon entertainment, and want to know your price?" Sarah exclaimed.  "Can you tell me more about your event and what do you envision the party to be like?" replied the voice.  This was the first time anybody asked what Sarah envisioned. 

"I want big candy canes scattered around the room, Christmas lights, a big ornate chair for Santa to sit on, a dance floor, and by the way do you know of anybody who plays Santa?", Sarah asked.  

"Yes" replied the voice, "I know an entertainer who plays Santa.  Do you need a name of a balloon decorator to help you with the large candy cane columns decorated with twinkly lights?" 

"Do you know of somebody?" Sarah asked. 

"I sure do", replied the voice.

Sarah looks around the room.  To her amazement, she did it.  The boss and management are happy, people keep complimenting her on the Magical Balloon-dude, and life is great.  

Inside Sarah's Christmas Folder of Ideas is stapled a business card with the words "Lifesaver" scratched in pen above the card.  Sarah did not realize it, but she had found a person whose years of experience offered guidance, and his contacts helped create the best holiday party the company has ever seen.

Sarah's tips for planning a Christmas party for the first time

  • Look to the past, and see what has happened in the past
  • Ask friends for recommendations
  • Work with professionals who have great colleagues
  • Share your vision with others, and have them make it happen 

Putting A Twist On Your Christmas Party, by giving Dale a call  (708) 744-0234

Sunday, October 27, 2013


As the moon rises, illuminating the nights sky, we slowly drift closer to all Hallows Eve. 

This is the time when the spooky and undead walk among the living, that is what the horror movies want us to believe.

So it is this time of year when the cute and pretty balloon designs disappear.  What is left behind are ghoulish, creepy, flesh eating designs, the ones I like to call a Zombie Halloween.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Standing Out in a Crowd

I can always spot an art student on their way to the Chicago Art Institute. Their clothing, hair, and attitude is unique as they walk down Columbus Drive.

I think people can do the same with me and my style of entertaining.   It's not my clothing or hair, but more my attitude and energy that I bring.

This has been my style, high energy, mile-a-minute talking, quick witted humor that I bring to every event.  My style and balloons twisting is unique, which like the girl in the picture, makes me stand out from the crowd.

Balloon Animals

Press Releases Magical Balloon-dude Dale Forum Spotlight Aricles