You start a
sluggish business morning answering the telephone. The cheerful voice
that greets you books six mobile shows for next month without once
haggling over your price.
Can you still be
dreaming? Not if you've tweaked your marketing savvy to target your
sales efforts to hotel and on-premise catering directors. If you
thought those high-budget gigs were for an exclusive few, the truth
is all you have to know is when to put aside the headphones and put
on the business suit.
catering manager of Atlanta's Galleria Center is amazed at the number
of business-naive DJ's that try to curry her favor. "I like
someone who does the whole sales job, not just sends me a brochure
and never follows up." Berry demands any mobile she refers to a
client be fully insured, and have all proper business licenses.
Perhaps that's why she consistently recommends only four area disc
jockeys. She gives an extra gold star to DJ's who send follow-up
letters and contracts immediately, and is particularly impressed with
those who take the time to stop by and tour her property. "Anyone
who's interested in my facility, I'm interested in."
catering director's role in the logistics of a successful event is
the best way to get bookings from 15-year catering veteran Rod
Westmaas of The Castaway Restaurant and Banquet Center in Burbank,
CA. He terms his pet peeve as DJ's who try to "hog the whole
show" by making the evening's program fit within the DJ's own
timetable without consulting the catering staff. "They have to
be our associates, not our adversaries. In working with our staff,
timing is everything. Don't announce dinner is being served when our
maitre'd is nowhere near ready. DJ's have to coordinate and
communicate. If they don't do that, we look like idiots."
That's a malady
Westmaas successfully avoids even though 70% of the events he books
annually include disc jockeys. And if you want an encore at The
Castaway, better check your ego at the door. "The DJ's I
recommend should have enough professional skills where if someone
wants to change the itinerary at the last moment, they don't get bent
out of shape."
That sentiment is
echoed by Cathy Frigo, catering manager of the Westin Galleria Hotel
in Dallas. "When I've worked with a client anywhere from 6
months to a year, it's not a real positive experience for me to walk
into a party, meet a DJ I've never met and have him argue with me
about the way a party is going to be orchestrated." Frigo and
her crew booked $5.2 million in catering events last year through
being detail-oriented, and she demands the same of the of the disc
jockeys she recommends. "Purple flashing lights and fronts of DJ
stands that are big promotional boards are a turnoff for me. There's
several services in town I won't recommend just due to their
setup...it is not to the quality level of my hotel."
Raffray, catering manager of the Sheraton New Orleans personal
contact is the key to peace of mind -- and a continued piece of the
pie. "I feel better about an DJ company when the disc jockey
that's actually playing the event calls the client, supplies a play
list for special requests and double-checks with me about his needs
such as tables, chairs or risers."
She also advises
DJ's to pay special heed to the siren song of all catering directors
"Turn it down!" "Many hotels have to balance their
catering facilities with their sleeping rooms. Complaints from guests
are the last thing we need."
If you believe the
nation's think tanks, the business segment most likely to grow are
service industries. No one realizes this more than caterers. By
providing extra concern and attention to detail with a dash of
three-piece-suit diplomacy, those who make their living from parties
can only deepen their respect for we who party for a living. As Vidal
Sassoon might say, "Make them look good, and you'll look good."
originally appeared in DJ TIMES Magazine, 25 Willowdale Avenue, Port
Washington, NY 11050. Subscriptions $30 annually. (516) 767-2500)