In the last chapter, we covered the steps involved in the celebrity booking process. As you may have noticed, there are a lot of things to consider when booking a celebrity, but one of the biggest considerations is the cost. After all, what good is it to know how to book a celebrity for an event if you don’t know whether or not you can afford them? And how can you expect to make an pitch that won’t get you laughed out of the room by their agent if you don’t know how much to offer?
In this section, we’re going to take a closer look at the factors you need to consider when calculating the cost of booking a celebrity. As you’ll find, it’s a lot more complicated than you might think, but don’t worry: it’s not so complicated that you won’t be able to figure it out. Let’s get started.
When trying to figure out the cost of booking a celebrity, you might be tempted to just do a quick Google search to see what they normally charge. This is a mistake- celebrity booking prices are not transparent, and celebrities and their representatives don’t advertise their booking prices online. A Google search might show you a price, but 99% of the time, it won’t be an accurate one.
As we mentioned in the last chapter, the best way to figure out a celebrity’s cost is by making an offer to their agent; as long as the offer isn’t ridiculously low, the agent will usually respond to the offer and give you a good indication of how much more you need to offer in order to secure their client for an event. In some rare cases, you might get lucky and have an agent accept an offer right off the bat, but any good agent is going to try to negotiate more for their client no matter what the initial offer is. This is why understanding the negotiation process is so important, and it’s also why you don’t lead with your best offer- you need to leave yourself some room to move up on the price without overextending yourself.
Unfortunately, this information is only useful if you already have a set amount in mind that you can afford to spend on a celebrity booking. But if you don’t know how much a celebrity costs, how can you set an offer price? Simple: first, you calculate exactly how much money you can afford to spend on the entire event. Then, you calculate the costs associated with the rest of your event first (that is, everything except the celebrity portion, like the venue, the food/drinks, setup, staff, etc.). From there, you just subtract the costs you know from your overall budget, and voila: that number is how much you can afford to spend on the celebrity booking.
Let’s say you have an overall budget of $500,000 for an event. And let’s say you have $250,000 in costs you need to cover for everything else associated with the event; therefore, you can afford to pay $250,000 all-in for a celebrity to attend the event. So you would reach out to the celebrity’s agent and offer their client $200,000 including travel, accommodations, equipment, and transportation to and from the venue to attend (which leaves you with $50,000 to spare if their agent wants to negotiate- and they will).
It might sound simple; unfortunately, if it were that easy, this chapter wouldn’t exist. Let’s take a look at some of the things you have to consider before making your offer.
What Do You Want the Celebrity to Do?
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, celebrities charge different rates depending on what is expected of them at the event. A simple walkthrough arrangement will cost you the least money, but maybe your event calls for something more. If that’s the case, then you can expect the celebrity booking cost to increase. For example, if you want the celebrity to hang out with guests (an appearance), that will be more expensive; if you want them to host the event, give a speech, or perform, the price will go up accordingly.
What Kind of Event Is It?
Another factor to consider is the type of event: is it public, private, university or corporate? A public event can be less expensive (if the celebrity uses the public profile of the event to self-promote), as can a university event. But if it’s a private or corporate event, you can expect to pay more for the celebrity to attend, especially if it’s a celebrity who doesn’t normally make appearances at events.
These might seem like unimportant details, but the celebrity’s agent will definitely adjust their client’s price depending on the kind of event, so you need to be prepared to adjust your offer according to the type of event you’re holding.
What Other Things Does the Celebrity Need?
The cost of a celebrity booking usually doesn’t come down to just one flat number. For example, a celebrity might charge $100,000 for an appearance fee, but that doesn’t mean $100,000 is all you’ll spend on them. You also have to consider all the extras that come with booking a celebrity; for example, the costs associated with the requirements specified in their rider, the celebrity’s travel, any equipment they might need, their hotel costs, the cost of transportation to and from the venue, and any food or drinks they and the people they’re traveling with (celebrities don’t travel by themselves to events) will need.
You need to keep these potential additional costs in mind; if you don’t, they can add up pretty quickly. In some cases, you’ll be able to negotiate some of those costs as part of their fee, but don’t count on it.
When Is the Event?
Again, this might seem like an unimportant detail, but make no mistake: a celebrity booking cost can be impacted by when the event is held. Celebrities often charge more to attend events held on weekends as opposed to weekdays, and even more than that if the event is held on a holiday.
You might be a little overwhelmed by all these additional costs that you may not have considered before now. So now, let’s take a look at how you can potentially save money on some of these extra expenses.
Know How to Negotiate
We covered this in the last chapter, but it’s so important that it’s worth discussing again. Knowing how to negotiate can save you a lot of money in the long run- especially if you do it effectively. The negotiation process can sometimes feel like a slog; it takes a lot of additional effort to negotiate a price that works for both you and the celebrity. But if you do it effectively, you can seriously positively impact your bottom line.
Consider Moving the Event Date
If the celebrity you’re targeting charges more for a weekend appearance, changing the day of the event can be an easy way to save money. Of course, this depends on whether or not the venue you’ve booked has flexibility, but if they do and you’re able to shift dates around without causing a ton of headaches on your end, it’s definitely worth considering to save yourself some money on the celebrity booking cost.
Try to Route Their Tour (If You Can)
As mentioned above, there are plenty of additional costs associated with booking a celebrity, and the ones that can add up very quickly are the costs associated with their travel. And unfortunately, unless they’re starving for publicity, celebrities aren’t going to be happy if you put them up in a rinky-dink motel for the night and pay for bus fare to and from the venue, so you’ll have to spend a fair amount of money to keep them satisfied. Most celebrities will expect a 4- or 5-star hotel with certain amenities in their riders, so contractually, you’ll have to pay for the level of accommodations they expect as a condition of their appearance.
One way to lower these costs is to do a little research. If the celebrity is currently on tour or about to begin a tour, take a look at the dates when they’ll be in your area and see if you can get them to add an appearance at your event on an off night. If they’re already touring, you will still be responsible for hotel and other travel costs, but since touring celebrities work their way through a particular area at a time, you’ll spend less on their travel costs.
Calculating a celebrity’s booking costs can be a time-consuming project, but if you want to get the most bang for your buck, it’s definitely worth the effort. But if you’re too busy or unwilling to do all the extra legwork that comes with booking a celebrity, there are other options available. In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at services that can lower your stress while still delivering the goods: middle agencies and talent buyers.