Hire Celebrities for Your Event

Interested in a celebrity appearance on your event? A Hollywood movie star giving a speech? Kevin talks with Las Vegas based Edwin Rojas (Rojas Talent Group) on booking the best entertainment for your events.

08-11-2021|Kevin Van der Straeten
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Transcript

Hi Edwin, welcome to our studio.


Thank you very much Kevin for having me. I really appreciate your time and your viewers' time. Thank you.


You're welcome.

We invited you to talk about entertainment at events. You're a professional booker. For entertainment. So, from your perspective, why is entertainment so important at an event?


That's a great question, Kevin.

You know: when a company spends money on an event, their resources are fini and they want to get the best bang for their dollar or their euro, whatever it may be.

A company really has three clients that they're trying to gather and entertain or attain. Either their employees at an event, their customers at an event or their potential customers at an event. And like we...

We broker celebrity appearances. So let's say they book a celebrity. They're going to get the most bang for their money.

If it's an employee event, all the employees will finally leave their desk. And go to the event, happily, to see XYZ-movie star or director. Or book author. Whomever may be.

If it's a potential client, they'll say: wow, that XYZ-corporation had so and so. And look: I took a selfie with them and I posted it on Instagram. And I had a thousand likes or whatever may be.

And clients? Same thing. They say: oh, my God, we love working with you. And I can't believe I had the opportunity to meet a certain celebrity.

And I always say the ROI for having a celebrity at a performance, at an event, is wonderful. Because it's just: with social media now, everybody wants to post and be liked by their friends or their colleagues or whatever. And if you say: oh, here I am with, Tom Cruise, let's say, everyone's going to be: oh, my God, did you see Edwin was with Tom Cruise the other night? And it just explodes. So I think the best ROI any company can have is to have entertainment.


You're based in Las Vegas. I think that's the centre of the world regarding entertainment. You're in the place to be. For entertainment. I can also imagine..

You're talking about Tom Cruise. That's not the first and the best name to call.


Right.


But even with that bigga names, you still say: ROI is still worth it.


Absolutely. I think the ROI is still worth it.

I mean: you get a celebrity from 2500 dollars to...

Let's say a Tom Cruise is probably close to seven figures, maybe. Even more.

And it depends on the brand. What they want to accomplish. How much money they have. But there's somebody for everybody's budget. That's for sure. And no matter who they choose, it's going to be better than having John Smith, COO. Which really only the company knows. And: yeah okay, he's a nice guy. He's smart. He knows his figures. He knows how to run the company. But: nah...

But: oh, Tom Cruise. Wow, that was really cool. It's that mystique. That halo-effect.


If you help a customer find the perfect entertainment for their event, how do you find that match? Because I can imagine, like you say, budget is one of the aspects you look at.


Absolutely.

 

But on top of that?

I also think you're looking for a match with the company. Or how do you approach that?


That's 98% of the challenge, I think. A lot of times...

Let's say, Kevin, you're the CEO of multinational corporation. And your favourite actor is Al Pacino. So in your mind: that's who I want for my event. I'm going to get Al Pacino. You get your event director in the company: you find Al Pacino. The event coordinator hires us: find Al Pacino.

Well, let's say you're trying to hit a salesforce and your salesforce is all 25 to 35 year old males. Al Pacino is not your target market. But because of the ego of the CEO that's what they want. So sometimes you've got to massage them and say: you know, I'll try to find this person for you. He or she might be out of your budget. But I'm going to give you some other suggestions too.

So I always ask when I have somebody on the telephone: who their target market is? Who are the people that are going to be in the audience? And try to lure it for them. Because sometimes what the company wants and what the actual target market is they're trying to accomplish, are two different things. So you have to walk a tight rope on that.

But if you're the CEO and you have an open blank check book. And you want that person because you've always wanted to meet them. It's tough to overcome that. Sometimes.


If we're talking about hiring celebrities. Is it then, most of the time, just regarding an act-de-presence? Or is it also about giving a speech, maybe do a performance or something like that?


Yes, that's a good question. You know, it depends a lot on who's booking them. Sometimes it is a speech. A speaking engagement. A lot of times, let's say, they're opening a store. Or a nightclub. Or a restaurant. It's just having a celebrity walk in. Take photographs of the step and repeat. And being there. That way all the publicity will say: when they opened the restaurant they had so and so there. Or sometimes it can be, in a convention type situation, having somebody just sitting there and having autographs. Or taking photographs of the people in attendance. So, there's a lot of variables involved. Sometimes it's just coming in. And walking around and meeting the employees in the corporation. And say: so and so dropped by today and came to my booth, my cubical. And said hello to me before I even had a coffee this morning. And that starts the day off great. It depends on the company and what they want to do with it. But there's a lot of variables. It could be, also, in this day and age, with Covid, it could just be sitting there and doing a Zoom-conference, like this, with their employees too. There's a lot of ways of doing it.


And before you know, Tom Cruise is one of the people on the screen.


That's right. No, that has to be a celebrity impersonator. No, that's the real deal.


Yes, then you need to convince people that it's the real one.

That's very true. Very true.

 

Booking a celebrity or a performance or an actor or whatever you choose as entertainment.

What I've learned in the business is that it's also very important to have a good understanding about the details. What is in the price? What additional fees may be a subject? What can we do? What can't we do? Can we take pictures like that? What's your experience with that?


Everything you mentioned. It varies from celebrity to celebrity. One thing a lot of people forget about is: okay, we booked them for XYZ. But then there's what is called the RIDR. And the RIDR is how they travel. What hotel requirements they need. The per dine for food every day. How long the event is going to be. What they want in the dressing room or green room, as they call it, before they walk on. And those can vary immensely. It could be from flying business class to fly in a private charter jet. It could be from a room for them and a room...


They usually never travel alone. They usually have a handler. Someone that buffers them from all the business details. Sometimes it's a make-up artist or a hairstylist.

If it's a famous Hollywood actress, she wants to have her hair and professional make-up done.

It could be several hundred dollars a day for food.

It could be, when they have a room, they want nobody in the room but themselves.

They might have to have pink flowers. San Pellegrino.


What is the craziest thing you've ever seen on a RIDR?


The craziest thing I've seen on a RIDR is they wanted Stern wines backstage. Certain alcoholic beverages. Which is fine. And it normally is fine everywhere. Unfortunately this client was a native American tribal casino. And the State that they're working in will not allow any alcohol backstage. So luckily for the...

So we said that's a no go because the Government won't allow it. And, you know, it was a moot point. But a lot of times, Kevin, these entertainers, they put something in there. It's really picky and it's just to see how much the person cares.

Like, there's a story and it's one rock band...

I can't remember the rock band. They wanted only green M&Ms backstage. And it wasn't really about their green M&Ms. It was that they walked in and they saw the bowl of green M&Ms. They knew: these people really care about the details and they're going to take really good care of us. That's all it was. It was a little flag for them. The green M&Ms were there: they love us. They're not there: we can just walk through this, they don't love us so much.

So there's a lot of things like that. But a lot of people, when they're booking, they forget about it. You know, there's the added cost. The two flights for the entertainer. The celebrity and somebody else. The backstage, what they require. The hotel room. It could be a suite, it could be a regular room. There's a lot of details like that.

And then a lot of people say: oh, we want them there for six hours. No celebrity is going to sit there for six hours. You probably negotiate between an hour fifteen, maybe two - two and a half hours maximum. But after that, they're out of there. They don't want to be there that long. And then there's: oh, we'll get them two nights hotel. They can come the night before. They can do the job, the gig as we call it, and they leave the next day. No. As soon as it's finished and there's a flight available, they're out of there. You know, their time is very, very, very valuable. And they might have this one job on a Tuesday and on Wednesday they might be doing another job somewhere else. So they're in at the last minute, they do the performance and they're out of there as soon as they can. It's a great question though because people forget about all those added costs.


Yes, indeed.


We call them plus-plus-plusses.


Yes, if you're mentioning private jets than they are definitely plus-plus-plusses.

But you're talking about the celebrities liking the host or the organizer to pay attention to the details. How is it the other way around? Because as an event organizer you also like that the celebrity comes prepared. Knows what your business is all about. Knows what the event is all about. Not just somebody just walking in and say: hi everybody, I'm Tom Cruise and I'm out of here.

How is that working with those celebrities? Because you just mentioned they're going from one gig to the other. Do they actually invest time in preparing this? Or is there a big difference between celebrities?


I would say 95% of the celebrities really care about what they're doing. And you got to think they're only as good as the performance they do. It's their brand. It's like if you were Coca-Cola and the bottles weren't looking good, it's like: well, it's cold but it doesn't look good. So they're on their game. As soon as they walk out of their room, they're on stage. Anybody that contacts with them... So I would say 95% of them care about everything.

And sure, you get that once, you know: they woke up on the wrong side of the bed or they have marital problems. Or whatever. And they're just going through the motions. And that does happen sometimes. Unfortunately.


But with everybody, I think. That happens with everybody, so...


Yes, I could've woke up this morning, grumpy, and I wouldn't be happy. With: oh, I've got to talk with Kevin. Oh, hi Kevin. And I give you like...

You ask me a question and I go: yes, no. And it's the worst interview in the world for you. You just want to get rid of me, you know. It's the same thing unfortunately. But I would say 95% of them really care. Really want to do good.

And I had a Hollywood A-type celebrity the year before Covid hit. It was probably our biggest job we did before Covid. And she had a request of flying private. And I said: wow, maybe that could be a dealbreaker. And the client said: no, it's okay, we'll do it. And then she came back and said: well, I don't want to fly their plane. I want to fly my plane and this is the cost. And the cost, for me...

When I saw the cost, just of the fuel, it was like: oh my God. And they said: no problem. And then...

I had a deal with her agency and her agency was very detail-oriented. And you could even say, maybe, too nit-picky. And I said: this is going to go either really good or really bad. So as soon as the job was over, the next day, I was on the line. I called my client and they said: she was the nicest person you could ever imagine. And I go: really? I mean this is a big, big budget event. And I couldn't believe it because it was so hard to put the deal together. And there were so many variables. And the travel and this and that. And I was just praying. I told my wife, I said: please, I hope this goes well. And it went incredibly well.


Maybe because it was prepared so well.


This is probably true. And then again, at that level, for a Hollywood celebrity, their managers and their agents, you know, they have to...

They're the bad guys. Because they don't want the celebrity to be the bad guy. So they push all the boundaries as much as they can. And they try to respect that. But I do respect that. But anyway, it went very well. And as you said: you never know. And they did a great job. And that's all that matters. At the end of the day. For the client and for the guests.

 

Maybe, as a last question, if you could give organizers one golden tip, what should they pay attention to if they organize an event and are looking for entertainment? What's the most important thing?


I think we touched the point earlier in this interview. I think it's know who their audience is. Okay, you have to know how much money you want to spend. You have to add something to that for travel.

But if your audience is all females, you want to hit an entertainer or celebrity that hits that target market.

If you have an all gentleman salesforce in front of you - and I hope that doesn't happen anymore...<

But you've really got to know your target market.

If your employees that you're trying to entertain are 35 to 45, you don't want John Wayne, who pushes 78 years old. It's a different person. You've got to know your market.

Hit your market and you'll be a success. The entertainer will be a success and the event will be a success. But it's all about knowing who's in front of you, on the stage. Who the audience is.


Okay great Edwin, thank you so much for your time and for sharing all these insights on booking entertainment.


Thank you Kevin. I've had the pleasure of being with you here and I've seen some of your video-podcasts online and I enjoy them. And I thank you for giving me the opportunity again. Have a great day.

Thank you.


Okay, thank you.

And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.

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