Simple Math: Filling the Dance Floor a Year Ahead of Time By: Geoff Short

January 27, 2012 by CHAUVET DJ

The equation really is simple math:

Focus on Guests + Delivery of Great Guest Experience = Desired Behavior (Dancing)

But not everyone is good at math, so class begins now – a year before the test.

There are so many factors that can contribute to (or take away from) a full dance floor at a wedding reception or other special event.  Many of these factors have nothing to do with the DJ.  Time and location of the actual ceremony, venue of the reception, weather, parking, traffic all have an influence on the guest experience and therefore on the dance floor itself.  Obviously, we can’t control all of these things, but as entertainment consultants we have to help clients become aware of these factors, control whatever can be controlled and adapt them to contribute to a full dance floor.  This takes careful planning from the very beginning of the planning process.  The actual event may be a year from now, but because there are so many things – let’s call them “dance floor factors” – that can be controlled and need to be planned far in advance, our team’s job is to start filling the dance floor…now.

Great parties don’t just happen. They have to be meticulously planned.  Actually, great parties can “just happen”, but that’s usually coincidence.  When planning the entertainment for an event on the scale of a wedding reception, nothing should be left to coincidence.   One of the very first things I try to do when helping new clients plan entertainment at Jerry Bruno Productions here in Cleveland is to try and get them to see a much bigger picture than just what songs will be on their playlist (which is often the first thing they want to talk about followed closely with concerns over “cheesy DJs”).  My first goal is to get them thinking about all the different elements that can contribute to or take away from a full dance floor, many of which they may not have considered before. Then I can incorporate their vision, personalities and creativity into a plan for their party that is focused on achieving a full dance floor.

I try to get them to think of themselves not so much as bride and groom, but as objective members of an entertainment committee.  This committee often starts with just three members – me and them.  I think it’s important that they be able to step outside of their roles as Bride and Groom and really take an objective look at their event.  From where brides and grooms sit at the Centers of the Reception Universe, everything seems like a good idea, because they are the center of attention.  But what about guest #40 and #41, for example?  Not many brides and grooms consider the correlation between seemingly little things like the hassle of an inconvenient parking situation, for example and how that can specifically effect the dance floor.  And why should they?  As the B&G, they never have to worry about driving, parking or any of that.  But their guests – the specific consumer group our committee should be focused on and that we desire certain behavior (dancing) from – do have to worry about how they’re getting from point A to point B.  The last thing we want #40 & #41 thinking about is where their car is or leaving early to find it.  Our committee has to be focused on what the total guest experience will be and how it effects the dance floor.  Isn’t the idea of inviting “honored” guests, to actually honor them?

I love that moment in a client meeting when I can see the light bulbs light up over the heads of Brides and Grooms and their parents when this concept start to make sense to them.  They immediately start taking notes and start applying these concepts to their own plans.  They can see how the ripple effect of everything that happens that day effects the dance floor 8 hours from now. Suddenly discussions about specific songs and music genres fall away as the bigger picture of planning great entertainment takes center stage.  Suddenly, the planning morphs from being about “my day” to actually planning a great dance party for everyone.

DJs and Bands sometimes can get credit for good things that happen at events that they actually had very little to do with.  If the members of the entertainment committee that are responsible for setting up the structure of the day have done a great job of creating an exceptional guest experience, they probably have delivered a crowd of people to the DJ who are ready and willing to dance and probably will despite the fact that the actual DJ might not be the best DJ in the world.  Because the guests had a great all-around experience, they might walk out of that reception saying the DJ was great because the dance floor was full all night!

This goes both ways.  Sometimes we get blamed for things we had nothing to do with.  A DJ could be the greatest MC and Event Host ever.  She carefully planned and rehearsed a creative, personalized Grand Entrance.  She contacted the other vendors in advance to share timelines.  She made professional and eloquent announcements. She played a great mix of music all night.  But if the other members of her committee dropped the ball and only focused on 2 people as opposed to 200, the dance floor may be empty at 10:00.  What do the guests say then?  “That DJ wasn’t very good.  No one danced”.

The point is is that this is all show business, even for the Bride and Groom. We all have to work as a team to appeal to the largest possible audience/customers/guests.  Otherwise, why were they invited?

There will be a test.

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