How to Organise Entertainment for an Incentive Event

Finding entertainment to engage your audience

From the Oscars to the local village fete, getting the entertainment right is critical to the success of any occasion, so the pressure's on for anyone trying to make an incentive event happen!

Regardless of what you're actually trying to achieve – whether it's launching a product or handing out some awards for sales campaign success – the entertainment you choose is a major factor in getting people talking and tweeting long after your event is over.

Should you choose ice-breaker entertainment, such as a comedian or magician, to interact with your guests as they arrive, or a staged show, such as a musical act, a pyrotechnic show or a dance troupe to add some real fanfare to the proceedings? Or, for an event that really pushes the boundaries, do you choose both?

You need to be sure that your entertainers are professional and effective, as well as providing excellent value for money. They need to be appropriate to your audience, too – we don't like to stereotype anyone's tastes or interests, but is your team of older sales execs really going to be that interested in being serendaded by the next One Direction (if they can ever truly be replaced…)?

Let's look at some of the common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to booking entertainment for an incentive event – fresh from the brain of our meetings and events team – many of whom come from an events management background, and have been responsible for many a party in their time.


Be realistic! Whether a singer, comedian or post-dinner speaker, an artist’s price is determined by their popularity, as well as by their technical demands. X-Factor winners, chart-topping artists and A-list celebrities can command huge fees, and so too can an organisation that requires a lot of people to make happen, like a circus experience.

Make sure you know what the price includes, too – you may find that the price only pays for a few songs, or a 30-minute stint, when you thought you had them for the whole day or night. Make sure you know whether production costs and expenses are included too.

Audience appeal

We've already mentioned this one, but it's worth re-iterating. Is your choice of booking dictated by the CEO's favourite act, or have you chosen someone that everyone can get on board with? Obviously, it's impossible to please everyone – people will have their own tastes after all – but it's worth doing some subtle opinion polling around the office to make sure your entertainment doesn't go down like a lead balloon.

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The venue

This can often be an oversight. If the venue has limited space, a dance troupe is not a great idea. Similarly, booking a singer when the venue has bad acoustics will not work well. Many acts will need a stage, audio-visual and lighting gear, and a lot of room to perform. Others, meanwhile, will work better in a more intimate setting. Choose your artist first, and ensure the venue can accommodate them. If this isn't possible, make sure your venue fits the entertainment's specifications to avoid any disputes.

Health and safety

Fire breathing, acrobats and knife-throwers have a few obvious health and safety concerns, but so to do all aspects of technical rigging, loud live sound, and active performances. Make sure you're doing everything by the book!


Everyone's heard stories about diva celebrities insisting on a single colour of M&Ms, or having complaints about the deli tray – and while many of them are certainly exaggerated, even smaller acts and personalities will have contractual stipulations and riders that you may have to deal with. This can include technical considerations, as discussed above, but can also cover food and drink expected for performers. Negotiating fair terms on behalf of clients should be a standard with any event organiser.

Entertainment ideas

If you're planning an event, either as a corporate do or as an incentive, here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Stage entertainment –  comedians, singers, bands, poets and magic acts
  • Crowd-based entertainment - Dancers, lookalikes, stilt-walkers, and strolling artists
  • Interactive entertainment – fun and games with tablets, team challenges, photo booths, caricaturists,
  • Motivational and after-dinner speakers
  • Conference presenters, keynote speakers and award ceremony hosts

But there really is no reason to be limited – there's no end of entertainment options out there, and the most outside-the-box idea could well be the most memorable!

Our meetings and events team are always full of great ideas, and take care of every aspect of event planning – from the table place settings to the bottled water backstage (and the clean-up, too!). If you'd like to know more about what we do, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

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