Mobile Report: Holiday Bookings

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Holiday Party Preview

Mobiles Report an Uptick in Bookings This Season. It Might Even Spell the End of Doom & Gloom.

Other than playing for Halloween weekend and during the New Year’s Eve bash at the historic Hotel Julien in Dubuque, Iowa, John White (aka “DJ Double J”) in Stitzer, Wis., says he’s not doing any specific holiday parties this year.

“Between playing at the Julien and at The Other Side across the Mississippi River in East Dubuque, Ill., I’m already busy every weekend—and it was the same last year,” says White, whose business in Southwestern Wisconsin stands within easy driving distance to events in Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. “Personally, I’m thinking people can’t wait for 2013 to get over with, because of the number ‘13’ being unlucky. Supposedly, that’s why the Julien has been slower this year with receptions.”

Across the nation, we asked DJs how this year’s holiday bookings are doing compared to previous years. What types of events are they booking, and at what price? And were they doing more corporate parties, or fewer?

Way up in Plymouth, Mass., DJ Charles Bernard from DJX Studio says he’s added the combination of a Photobooth, lighting and a DJ into the mix of holiday bookings, and the result has been nothing short of amazing.

“It’s like the invention of the shopping cart—one call, one contract and a blast,” he says. “We’re in Boston, and we’re up from 5-7 [December bookings in 2012] to 20 bookings in December of 2013.

“Some events and hotels that are not even having music/DJ/band pick the two-option part and the revenue is flowing better than Biggie Smalls with a 95-BPM [track].”

While Bernard is quick to add that this isn’t evidence that the regional economy in the Northeast is finally turning around, he says that it is evidence that the cost-conscious customer—the planner, HR director or company manager—sees the value in purchasing a bundled package and thereby receiving a greater value.

“We merely make sure the customer shines and has the control and flexibility to achieve their end-result,” Bernard adds. “And in the end, this is the only sign that we—or any DJ, for that matter—are doing our job: Providing the end-result, with every effort we do, every song we play, every announcement we make, to get it there.”

Other mobiles in the Northeast expressed uncertain, yet optimistic thoughts.

“At this point it’s too early to tell if bookings will be increasing in 2013,” replied Scott Goldoor of Signature Sounds in Plymouth Meeting, Mass. “All I can say is that calls and bookings are indeed coming in, although I have been a little proactive by calling and emailing some of our good customers from the last few years to see if they’ve secured their date, location, etc. A couple have gotten back to us, and I’m hoping and still waiting to hear from others and new customers.

“We do have one New Year’s Eve party booked and have gotten a few more inquiries, and will probably book one or two more parties—perhaps more. I booked a last-minute New Year’s Eve party two weeks before December 31 last year, so we never know.”

Artem Lomaz of NinetyThree Entertainment in Morristown, N.J., says he didn’t yet have any corporate events to compare to from last year for statistics to share. “But I can tell you, from personal experience in conversations with friends and family, that companies are still substantially cutting down on corporate/holiday parties,” he recounts. “Whether it’s scaling down production, or canceling them altogether, employees and mobile DJs are all seeing the cut-down effect.”

As of late October, Michael Mahoney of M&M Entertainment in South Portland, Maine, said he only had four companies so far booked for December 2013. All four of those were companies whose parties he’s been doing for six or seven years, and as of press time for this article two of them had already cancelled due to financial reasons.

“One of the cancellations was an elder-care company and the other was a biomedical research company,” Mahoney reports. “Thankfully the other two are still on. I’ve received no new holiday party calls this year, and therefore will not be working for New Year’s Eve.”

A little further south in Huntingdon, Pa., John Horne of Jam Machine Productions was still saying in October it was too early to predict if holiday parties in his region would be improving. But he also was thinking 2013 would likely be similar to past years: Entertaining for mostly corporate parties and mainly for clients he performs for on a regular basis.

“I actually haven’t had an outside call for a holiday party in years,” Horne says, “Years ago, most cut back due to the economy and have never yet come back.

“We also just had two major employers in our area recently close, and our county has one of the highest unemployment rates of all the counties in the state of Pennsylvania. I even had a couple weddings cancel this year due to lack of funds to spend on the entertainment, and schools are using other means to do their dances—either DJs with lower rates or teachers/students using iPods to do dances cheaply, so they can save a buck or two.”

And even the positive, Horne says, still comes with a negative.

“The only positive I’ve seen,” he says, “has been some local VFWs and other clubs are deciding to go with mobile DJs more because the bands aren’t bringing in the crowds anymore and are too expensive compared to the cost of a DJ. But while most local bars are using the same DJs and not using variety anymore, they’re spending less on DJs as well.”


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