Avenue des Gaulois, 7 B-1040 Brussels, Belgium Voice: +32-2-743.15.44 Fax: +32-2-743.15.50 Voice: +32-2-743.15.44 Fax: +32-2-743.15.50
Learn more abut The Society of Incentive & Travel Executives at: http://www.site-intl.org/
A great source for over 11,000 corporations and nearly 19,000 meeting planners is: The Directory of Corporate Meeting Planners, available through Douglas Publications for $385.
They also sell: The Directory of Association Meeting Planner and Conference/Convention Directors for $845 on disc. Instead of buying that directory, here is where you can get pretty much the same information free. (You never know when these opportunities will end, especially on the net. I hope it is still there for you. Right now there is a searchable directory of 6,589 Associations throughout North America).
Explore the whole site. It provides enough contact information to provide you with a lifetime of corporate bookings: http://info.asaenet.org/gatewav/OnlineAssocSlist.html
Plus, to locate Convention Center and Convention and Visitors Bureaus, worldwide, got to: http://www.asaenet.org/cvb dir
Another excellent site to visit, especially if you are interested in trade-show work, is: http://www.expoworld.net
The 3 links above are your gateway to limitless performing opportunities in the corporate arena. Take the time to explore them and consider your opportunities. At the very least, locate organizations and events in your local area and participate in some fashion. It is difficult to tell you exactly what to do with the information because the options are so vast.
Here is one example. Join your local Convention Bureau. At ours in Vancouver, members are provided with a directory of the upcoming conferences. I have had great success in booking my services by contacting the companies that were booked to gather in Vancouver. They were able to book an international act without the travel expenses normally attached. And I could stay at home and work major conferences.
If you have ever thought about doing trade show work, then the following interview will answer all, or most of your questions.
Bonus Interview - Anton Zellman on Trade Shows
RC - Anton, thanks for being willing to do this interview.
AZ - It's my pleasure Randy. I'm honored that you would even consider asking me to participate.
RC - As we go along, I'd like you to focus on the business aspect of your career as a mentalist. I know you must have a lot to offer my readers about presentation, staging, and performing.
But, if you don't mind, I'd like to tap into your knowledge and experience about how to earn a living as a Mentalist. And in particular, I'd like for you to focus on how to earn a living in the area of trade-shows. OK?
AZ - I'll do my best Randy. It's one of my favorite topics. The business of show business. Where would you like for me to begin?
RC - Let's start at the beginning. How long have you been earning your living as a mentalist and how did you get into working mostly at trade-shows?
AZ - Actually, I started doing magic shows for Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs in my late 20's. In those days my paycheck was in the form of polite applause and perhaps a $25 honorarium. My first paid ESP
show was in 1973 for $75. I remember thinking that I was stealing. This was just too easy. I booked my first trade-show three years later in 1976 with Owens-Corning Fiberglas. They paid me $1,000.
At the time, I was earning my living as the Bulova Watch salesman in Toledo, Ohio. But, after my first taste of the awesome power of performing as a mentalist, and earning what I then thought was a huge amount of money, $1000.00 for four days of performing, I knew I would someday make the transition from Bulova salesman to show business.
Of course I didn't have a clue then that I would end up earning seven figures working at trade-shows. But I knew I was on to something that had great potential.
RC - So, how old were you then. Or is that a closely guarded secret?
AZ - No, not at all. Actually I was 15 when I began performing. But that's a story for another time.
RC - You write about that in your new book, don't you?
AZ - Yes, I do. Maybe we can mention something about the book at the end of this interview if that's OK with you?
AZ - Well, to answer your question about age, I was 32 years old when I began performing as a mentalist. I decided to make the move into full time performing in June of 1977. After ten and a half years with the Bulova Watch Company, I decided to let go of my fear and doubts and to do what I do today. My show bookings were picking up, and I decided to let go of my secure, straight commission, job with Bulova.
It was a big risk to give up what was considered pretty good pay in those years,($38,000 plus benefits), to do what I wanted to do most, and that was to perform. Well I now know that the only risk I had to take was to make the decision. I have never looked back.
RC - What was the primary ingredient and knowledge base that you applied to become a trade-show performer?
AZ - Before working for Bulova I worked as a theatre manager in my late teens, a door-to-door salesman, and as a pitchman on the road for several years. I pitched Svengali cards and Magic Writer pens around the country at discount stores. In fact, I pitched the magic writer pen at the Worlds Fair in New York in 1964.
I'm certain that the combination of those work related skills and experiences shaped me into the performer I have become. The truth is that 30 years later I am still delivering a 'Pitch', but for a lot more dough!
RC - Speaking of dough, you are earning a substantial income as a trade-show performer. Give us a rundown of some of the financial numbers. If you don't mind. And perhaps a historical summary would provide a good lesson regarding fees obtainable in this market.
AZ - Sure, as I mentioned before, I did not know at the time that I would someday focus, almost exclusively, on trade-shows.
My career in trade-shows began when a guy from an Advertising Agency in Toledo, Ohio asked me if I could perform my mind reading and mental stuff at a trade-show? I didn't know the first thing about trade-shows, but I said yes of course I could work at a trade-show.
I have never known how to say no when it came to taking a risk to earn a buck. I guess that stems from the fact that I had to support myself since I was 15 years old. This has been a terrific asset, because as a risk taker, as soon as I would say "yes", I would then go back to my home base and think," okay, well now I've got it, so what am I going to do to make this happen?" I figure it out and go do it.
RC - I am exactly the same way. As a matter of fact, I knew little about Mentalism until after I booked my new ESP show for a 17 day run Fair in 1995. I needed a new show, thought Mentalism was cool, pitched the contract, got it, and put together the show.
Now, as you know, I mostly do Mentalism.
AZ - Right, great example.
RC - Thanks. Anyway, go ahead. Please, continue with your story.
AZ - Sure. The agency guy set up a meeting for me with his client. It turned out to be Owens-Corning Fiberglas. Well, at the end of the meeting, I was asked how much I would charge to perform at a trade-show? Randy, I had no idea. However, I knew from my years at Toastmasters, that a good speaker should make at least $500 a day + expenses, so that is the amount I requested.
He said he would call me the next day and let me know if I had the job. Sure enough the next day he called. He told me that the show lasted four days and they could only afford $1,000 + travel expenses. Would I be OK with working only the first two days? I told him no, but that I would work all four days for the $1,000.
He was ecstatic and that was the beginning of a ten-year run with this company. In fact, I crafted and honed with Owens-Corning Fiberglas, most of the twelve trade-show presentations that I perform today.
RC - What did you earn in your first year, back in the late seventies, as a full time trade-show performer?
AZ - Randy, that's what I most appreciate about you. You don't beat around the bush. I am happy to share these details with you and your readers. And, for two reasons. Yes, of course, I am very proud to let people in our business know how well I do, but more importantly, I have a great need to educate those who want to earn big bucks at this wonderful and fulfilling occupation. You see if I can help other trade-show performers to improve their payoff for their work, then we all win.
RC - I see your point. If more performers ask for and receive higher fees then fewer customers will balk at the higher fee requested. They will become familiar and accepting of the higher fees.
AZ - Exactly! Of course I can't simply ask for more money than the other trade-show performers without providing what I believe is a more dynamic product that provides a greater ROI along with more services.
RC - Another good point Anton. So what kind of money did you earn as a trade-show performer when you started and where are you at today?
AZ - In my first full year (1978) I booked 51 jobs, four of them were trade shows and I earned about $31,000 in fees. I was doing mostly magic tricks and some mentalism. I learned very quickly that it made sense for me to drop the magic tricks and stick with straight Mentalism. The impact of mind demonstrations on my clients and their audiences was more powerful and justified a higher perceived value. So I decided to raise my rates.
In 1979 I booked 48 jobs and I earned $51,000 in fees. $31,000 of those fees was earned by performing at 8 trade-shows. Hmm, there seems to be a pattern here! By the way I've kept track of every show I have ever performed. I still have all the records starting with my first free show in 1973.
RC - Me too. My first show was a kid's birthday party for $6 in 1976. But please Anton, go on with your story about earning income as a trade-show performer.
AZ - OK, but please keep in mind as I reveal my current numbers that I also know from personal experience that the formula works in any venue. As I mentioned my first trade show was for $1,000.
Now listen to how these numbers grew over the next few years. In the late 70's I was earning $2,000 to $4,000 per trade-show event. In the early to mid 80's I averaged $7,000-$15,000. In late 1985 I began to more fully understand the value of what I was providing to my clients.
I also developed enough confidence in myself to deliver a first-rate product so I began to request and receive approval for multi-project, multi-year contracts. In fact I was so enthusiastic about this concept that I took another one of those big risks. While at a strategy meeting with a new client, I decided on the spot, to double my fees. I actually reached over and took the estimate of fees and costs out of the client's hands. I crossed out the numbers I had originally proposed and inserted my new figures. In that moment I caused my financial life to significantly change. With a lot of moxie and a couple of strokes of a pen I jumped from $15,000 to $30,000 + per trade-show.
I can still recall the client taking back the proposal, looking at the crossed out numbers and saying to me..."What's this?" I responded; "it was a computer error." The client smiled and said, "You know, I didn't think you were charging us enough for what you do."
RC - Wow! That's a fantastic story. So, these fees are what you receive for a series of bookings over time and are not simply daily fees for performances. It's my understanding that you also charge for additional services such as scripting, support graphics, and licensing fees for customized audiocassettes that you create and distribute at the trade-shows. Right?
AZ - Yes, and I also bill my clients for setup and rehearsal fees, travel days, strategy meetings, and even a fee for my wife, Lois who assists me. Also, to be clear, I charge a separate fee for the right to distribute my tapes at the event. This usually adds another $13,000 -$15,000 to my bottom line.
RC - Do you always charge a fee, plus expenses? And how do you travel? Coach, business, first class?
AZ - Yes, I always charge fees plus expenses. I charge the client for coach fare and search for the best price I can find.
We mostly travel first class using frequent flyer points to upgrade. On the road, Lois and I live as well as the client. And as you know major clients do not scrimp when it comes to hotel accommodations, dining and entertainment. Our budget for travel for the past five years has been $3,200 to $3,600 per trip.
RC - Is that the amount the client reimburses to you?
AZ - Yes, and we also have a 10% leeway if some trips turn out to be more costly. I am pleased to report that in 25 years we have never been over budget. I made up my mind early on that if Lois was going to support my work and to travel with me then I would be certain to provide her with a better than average lifestyle on the road.
RC - Oh, but of course (grin). Fair to say then, you realized that there are companies willing to pay for all of your valuable services. And once you found these companies, or they found you, it was a matter of suggesting and providing a variety of services that related to your trade-show appearances, and for as long as possible.
And, perhaps other entertainers reading this are selling themselves short by not suggesting, providing and/or charging for these value added services. What did you do last year as far as sales and days worked?
AZ - My project income for trade-shows in the year 2000 was $897,256.87. By the time I finished the year, with other jobs that I
booked, it was just about $45,000 short of a million dollars. Gee, I still get goose bumps when I say that!
RC - How many events was that for, and how many total days did you work.
AZ - The total events for the year were nineteen. (15) were trade-shows and (4) were sales meeting engagements. Total performing days were 50, travel days were 30, set up and rehearsal days were 25. I always arrive at least 2 days early so I can be certain my stage is properly set.
I want to be sure that my sound, projection equipment, and lighting are all in place and working properly. I often use this time to create any graphic changes that may be needed to support the show. I also use this time to rehearse.
RC - Explain why you still rehearse after all these years.
AZ - Another good question Randy. Rehearsal serves several purposes. The client is always listening, so hearing me accurately speaking their product messages gives them confidence in the knowledge that have hired a Pro and everything is going to work as planned.
Practice also helps me to be prepared to speak and perform with the right cadence, tone and rhythm. I depend on my voice and the confidence of my words to gather and increase the size of my audience.
Also rehearsing helps me to feel safe and in control. Besides, don't forget, I bill my client 50% of my per diem for these two days for setup and rehearsal. I had better do what I must to earn that extra income.
RC - So help me to be clear about your actual performance fee. Is your per diem, your daily fee for performing only?
AZ - Yes, for a single trade-show, I receive $7,500 per day for delivery of my presentation and $2,500 for my wife's assistance. So that would be $10,000 a day. Most trade-shows at medical meetings last from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 days. I always contract for the entire show and charge a full days fee even for the 1/2 days.
And as I've said, I also earn an additional $5,000-$10,000 for the 2 set up days. When I close a deal for several shows and/or a multi-year contract I will bend those numbers a bit. However I hardly ever change my delivery fees. I have plenty of room to lower the creative and/or setup/rehearsal costs.
RC - Do you send a rate sheet out?
AZ - No I don't. When I am pursuing a potential client, my process is to first talk with them to learn what their needs and objectives are for the event. How many attendees do they expect to visit their exhibit?
What size space have they contracted? Do they have a stage? Who is their Display House? How many products do they want me to talk about? And so on.
I have a list of about 30 questions I want answers to before I provide a quote. After I review this information I prepare a proposal, along with an estimate of costs and fees, and send it to my project contact.
In my proposal I describe to the client how I will fill their needs and meet their objectives. If appropriate, I also pitch my audiotapes by showing them the extra impressions they can make on their attendees minds about their product(s) and their company.
My current major contract began as a one-year, three-event project. It's now grown into a five-year relationship. To date I've performed at 58 trade-shows for this client at an average of $30,000 for each event
They also pay me an additional script fee each time there is a product change or decide on a new marketing campaign that requires new information to be communicated. Added to this are reimbursement for travel expenses and production costs. And then there are the licensing fees I receive for my tapes.
My invoice for the last medical meeting at which I presented for this client in 2001 was for $54,439. Of that amount I earned $42,625.00.
Man I love this business!
RC - So, Anton, what I understand you to say, is that what is required to earn fees in the higher end of the scale, is a combination of a quality performance, a good strategy to be perceived as different and better than the competition, a winning mind set, the courage to take risks, and excellent promotional methods and materials.
I am gong to ask you for some specifics on how to actually put those materials in front of the decision makers.
First though, I often hear from some of the entertainers that hire me for consulting that their market just simply does not bear these higher fees we are talking about. What's your take on that?
AZ - Well, it's important for me to understand that if my thinking is that I am worth $500, then I will bring to me those clients that can afford $500. And, unless I provide them with additional benefits, additional gratification, then I will 'show up' as a $500 Mentalist.
If on the other hand, I think of myself as a $1,000 guy, I will still bring to me the $500 clients and some of them will say no. But, I will also bring to me a number of the $1,000 clients.
This same mindset operates in the higher fees as well. And there are many levels of paying clients.
So, if I believe, for any reason, that my market cannot handle higher fees then that will remain my truth! It's a limiting way to think and it will bring me limited results.
I think it's important to realize that unless I choose to differentiate myself from the pack, and truly recognize the value of my product I will not be able to ask for and consistently receive substantially higher fees.
Sure, every performer wants their numbers to change upward. Well, as I've already described, the best way I know to make the numbers move upward is to place a value on each and every service that I offer.
Randy, from reading your book "Secrets of Millionaire Magician", I know you also understand this moneymaking added-value concept and you do it very well. Now, don't take this statement out of the interview for fear your readers will think you are tooting your own horn. I really mean it. And anyone who reads your book will know it's true. You provide a wealth of information for making huge profits on the pages of your book.
RC - Right, thanks Anton. Although you are obviously working with a relatively small number of clients, what advice can you offer regarding promotional material and marketing methods in order to find and secure quality trade-show bookings?
AZ - Before answering that question I want to say something here that to some may sound a bit esoterical. It's not. It's another one of those precious gems that really works. I am quite clear, that I can ask for any amount that I want for my services. And the reason I can, is because no one I deal with in the corporate world really knows what value to place on what I do for their product or company.
Of course clients know what they have paid the guy before me. Initially they may want to compare me to the Speaker, the Juggler, the Magician, or Musician they previously engaged. But they don't really know what my value is. My truth is that I'm still not sure if I even know the true value to place on my work.
But I do know this. Companies and their teams pay for and want to deal with Professionals. They have no time to waste on start-ups or amateurs. So, from the very first day I represented that I was doing business as Zellman Productions, I decided that everything that goes out to a client and has my name on it was first rate. Even if I had to go into hock to do it.
If I sent out a brochure, it had to be quality. If I produced a videotape, quality. If I answered a letter, the paper and type and letterhead had to be quality. My reasoning was that I was trying to get work with Corporate America and I knew from my days with the Bulova Watch Company that they are accustomed to paying big dollars. But they are not going to pay big dollars to engage a guy who is represented by inferior quality materials.
My brochures and letterhead are printed on quality paper with a distinctive logo. The paper stock feels good. My brochure is printed in four-color.
Randy, I believe you know exactly what I am talking about. Quality is so important in all of its form.
These folks will not risk their jobs by hiring and paying for an amateur. They are accustomed to working with the best professionals they can find and afford.
If I am going to be competing against pros and big time agencies, then I have to have something going on for me besides my performance skills.
RC - I see your point Anton. It's also important to create a professional presentation of oneself that causes the potential client to perceive you as a first-class businessperson.
AZ - Yes, that's my point exactly. Another piece of advice I can offer to the performers just breaking into trade-shows, is that they consider working for hundreds of dollars a day, rather than thousands. Get the job and learn whether or not they are cut out for this kind of work.
The endurance required for someone to do 8-15 shows a day is a lot different than what is required for someone performing an hour-long show. That's not to suggest that all that goes into performing an hour show is not tiring, it's just that a different discipline and energy level is required.
My performance standard is that my last performance of the day must appear to my audience as fresh and energetic as the first one I delivered. Every audience is brand new and late in the day they are just as tired as I am. I make it a part of my agreement with my client that I will be as enthusiastic and fresh as possible for every group that enters their exhibit.
RC - Okay, so they should go test the waters and not worry about what they earn at first.
AZ - Yes, and then if they enjoy it, have the energy to finish the show with energy and enthusiasm, then go out and develop a better plan than what they already have in mind. There are a lot of folks out there working trade-shows. But they are all doing pretty much the same routines. I think it is worth more to the client if I can present a memorable commercial. But the point is this.
If I want to earn serious money at trade-shows, I must present more than just another 'magic' or 'mental' routine that ties in a message.
I must create and provide a campaign that gives the client a larger bang for their buck.
RC - And it can't look like a commercial, right? That's where the creativity and experience is required. And, that's why they should start off at lower fees because they are not likely to be worth the big bucks to the client yet.
AZ - Exactly, in 1976 I was not yet prepared to compete. I needed experience and lots of it. Almost any decent performer can draw a crowd at a trade-show. It's learning how to build and hold that crowd and to influence them to want to listen to the product message that helps to distinguish one trade-show performer from another. And to my way of thinking, it also translates into making a distinction between one company and another.
Of course I am referring to a positive distinction. If I can accomplish this, then am I not worth every additional dollar? You bet I am.
RC - What is the range of fees that most magic type performers are getting these days, per day?
AZ - I really don't know for certain, but I believe it is in the vicinity of a low of around $750 to $1,000 a day and then there are several really good tradeshow performers earning between $2,500 and $5,000 per day.
One caveat though. It's been my experience that once I am locked into a company at a certain fee. It is tough to get the same company to hire me for a lot more. I have to come up with additional services to offer that will add dollars and profit to my total invoice.
That's how I began to raise my fees. I offered more services.
RC - How do you and they go about getting new clients?
AZ - Well when I lived in Toledo I used to "work the building" each time I would go to a planning meeting. What I mean is, I would stop on each floor and walk around and look for someone to recognize me from some event I did; either in the community or for their company. I would ask questions. Lots of open-ended questions. Who do I talk to see if there would be any interest in using my services at a future event? Who is the marketing person for their division? Who handles X product? Any question that might provide me with a lead.
RC - Is that primarily how you built your client base?
AZ - Partially, and it was difficult to get into those corporate buildings. Every corporation had guards at the entrance and required a security pass and name tag to enter the elevators.
That's why I made a point of working the buildings whenever I was inside for a scheduled meeting. I "worked the buildings" a lot from 1976 until 1982 when I relocated to Atlanta.
RC - What would you do right now, if you were just starting out?
AZ - I would reach into my tool chest of experience and utilize some of my best tools to create a desire on the part of both new and past clients to want to talk with me.
For the new guy on the block the tool may be a connection they have with a specific company or industry. It might be some special attention or award they have received about their work.
The number of tools in each chest is as varied as the number and variations of each person's experience.
For me, my primary tool today would be my first book that is very close to being finished. I plan to approach past, existing, and prospective clients, and offer them a package deal that includes my tapes and my book. I may offer something like giving them a special price for X number of copies of my book if they engage me for a series of events.
Or, I might elect to give them the book at cost as a give-away to their attendees who see my performance. There are a number of ways to use my tapes and book as a means to open a conversation and perhaps to close a few new contracts.
RC - Creative trade-offs. I do it all the time. The total value is still intact, it is just sliced differently. Why are you considering doing this at this time?
AZ - As you've already mentioned Randy, I work with only a handful of clients and the corporate culture changes over time. I am always looking for ways to increase the amount of dollars that I make at any event so I can do fewer jobs and make more money.
As I've stated, it's all about adding extra value. Ideally I would love to make a million dollars doing one job. I really believe that if I stay with it for a few more years I'll do just that.
RC - Do you use a demo video to sell yourself?
AZ - No. I no longer send out videotapes because I've come to the conclusion that I can't be there to meet the potential client's objections. No tape has ever truly captured the impact of what I do. It's just a personal preference. I prefer that the client or someone on his or her product team see me in action. Of course there are many performers who get a lot of work from tapes, so I don't suggest that it's not a valid way to promote.
RC - How about your web site, does it support your promotional efforts.
AZ - Yes, it supports what I do, but it doesn't actually bring me new work. I haven't designed it to solicit jobs. I use it mostly to provide instant access to language and visuals that represent me prior to sending a hard copy of my brochure to a client who is requesting information. I will make better use of my site when I am ready to sell my book.
RC - Am I correct in saying that you are not actively marketing yourself because you don't need a lot of clients due to the size of the contracts you are dealing with? It seems to me that you have a handful of clients and you deal with them and with new potential clients in a very hands-on attentive manner. You do this rather than mass marketing and volume bookings?
AZ - Yes, I would have to say that sums it up quite accurately. Building relationships is my preferred method of finding new business.
RC - There certainly are pros and cons to working bigger deals with a small client base. And you are a master of turning what would often typically end up being a small booking into a much bigger deal.
I think that the readers of this interview will benefit from learning what you are sharing regarding up-selling, regardless of whether they pursue trade-show work or not. In other words, and I am now addressing the reader of this interview, apply what Anton has shared with us to all of your services and you will certainly create a larger income for yourself, while at the same time better servicing your client.
Anton, can you offer any advice on a variety of marketing approaches that perhaps we have not discussed yet, that someone might try. I imagine you have tried a few different things over the years.
AZ - Yes, I think I can add a couple of simple yet useful ideas here. The best marketing device I have ever participated in is to invest lots of time, energy, and money when practical to do so, to become known in my community as a person who has unique talents, a special occupation, and a willingness to share it, without charge, with the community.
I am always available to perform at community, fundraising, and charity events. And I don't wait to be asked. I seek out the planners and organizations and offer my services. Now let me be very clear about this. I do not seek publicity or notoriety for my participation. I am committed to giving something back to the community. I do this as an active Rotarian and as a performer. However, it is inevitable that word gets around. That a favorable reputation develops. And new opportunities arise.
Many times as part of a larger contract, I will offer to my best clients, to perform (free of charge) in their name, at a hospital, senior citizens home or orphanage whenever they send me to an event in cities other than Atlanta.
Another way I found to build a local reputation, as a Psychic Entertainer is to find a business sponsor who would allow me to perform at College Athletic events while delivering a commercial for their company or business.
I must admit that the one time I did a mass mailing, I developed a campaign that cost around $30,000 to put together. I sent out 4,000 pieces. My return was eleven leads that led to one job that netted me $11,000.00.
When I am working a show, I often walk the aisles looking for potential clients to stop by and see me work. The best way to get work in this business is to be seen and appreciated by those who can engage me for a future event.
RC - Another reason for those starting out in trade-shows to go out and work, regardless of pay, is so they can get experience and be seen. What is the typical title of the person who does the bookings at trade-shows?
AZ - It depends on the structure and culture of the company. At some companies it is the product manager who makes the decision, while at others it may be the marketing or communications manager.
Seldom is the convention manager the decision maker although they can be a good source for an introduction to the right person. Once I
make the sale, I am usually working with the communications department or a companies advertising agency.
RC - Any trade journals or web sites worth checking out for those wishing to market themselves?
AZ - Yes, just about every industry has a Trade Journal. And most have associations to which they belong. Many associations publish their own trade-show books that list the dates and locations of all meetings in their industry. They are published every year, usually with a mid-year update. I am a member of a medical association named the Health Care Exhibitor Association. They publish the HCEA handbook that lists all of the major medical meetings. Another handbook that lists just about every national and international trade-show in all industries is named, "TradeShow Exhibitor."
The very best web site I am aware of is named TradeShow Central. Their URL is: http://www.tscentral.com
Another great site is http://www.exhibitorshow.com
This link will also make your readers aware of a very popular trade show that is geared to the people who offer products and services for trade-shows. Its name is 'The Exhibitor Show.'
And finally here is a site that will lead to many other sites connected to the trade-show industry: http://www.tradeshow.com
RC - Anton, what is expected by way of material and number and length of shows, etc. for trade-show performers.
AZ - Most performers do what a pitchman would call a grind. That means they just keep talking and performing until they "Build a Tip". More commonly known as "drawing a crowd". Once they get a crowd they do a short show about 7-10 minutes wait a couple of minutes to reset their props and then start all over again. I started out this way in the 70's. These days I perform three to seven shows a day. My shows last approximately 18-25 minutes.
RC - Same or different material each time?
AZ - My answer is both yes and no. Everything is scripted, especially the commercial and I deliver it word for word every show. However, I have a lot of dialog in my head about my topics. So I am able to tweak just about every show to the needs of my audience.
Recently, a couple of our fellow PEA members, Doug Dyment and Loyd Auerbach, visited me while I was performing at Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. I knew I had done a good job when Doug said to me: "I'm amazed at how you made every show seem somewhat new and different from the previous show".
Of course a lot of trade-show workers perform the exact same routines each and every show.
RC - What are some of the effects that play well in this market?
AZ - Some guys do things with watches and time, magic square, sponge ball routines, rope, coin and card tricks. Some guys hold up the company's visual aid and some will use placards with the name of the company on one-side and product messages on the other side. And they loosely tie the name of the company and product benefits into their routines.
My process is a bit more sophisticated. For example, if I am a doing a program about memory, I engage the audience into a process that helps them to memorize the product and its benefits.
If I am doing something about perception, I am going to have the audience interact with visuals that deceive their perception. I will use this theme to support an existing perception they have about my clients' product. Or it may be that my clients' objective is to have me create a new perception in the minds of their audience.
I always incorporate a "test card" in my presentation that the audience will use to keep track of their answers or solutions. It gives them a chance to interact with me and stay involved. Of course I have a space for them to fill in their name, address, E-mail and other information. I make it part of my deal that I keep the stubs with this information. It provides me with a database of people who have seen my show. I intend to contact these leads when I am ready to sell my tapes and now my new book.
RC - Well you've set up a good place to segue to what your book is about. What's its title?
AZ - Thanks for asking. I've named it "So, you want to read MINDS -Step One." So far, it's fourteen chapters of methods and exercises that I believe will help the reader to read the most important mind of all, their own. I've peppered each chapter with personal stories that reveal how I have personally used these systems to enhance various functions of my mind. The book is designed in a manner that helps to answer, the number one old question that every Mentalist is asked to reveal- "How did you do that?"
RC - You have been most generous with your time and information. Thank you so much. I have known you for a few years now and clearly you are one of the most giving individuals in our business.
Do you mind if I give your email address out for my readers to contact you if they are really serious about performing at trade-shows and have one or two quick questions, or perhaps inquire about your book.
AZ - Not at all, please do. I am happy to help wherever I can. Who knows, maybe one day someone who reads this interview will present a customized Zellman presentation when I decide to retire. It's only a few years off.
RC - Well wouldn't that person be lucky? Thanks again Anton. Anton Zellman can be reached at: [email protected]
Lesson 15 - Cruise Ships (Back to Index)
Working cruise ships can be a lot of fun. It would take a long time to get rich working solely in this venue as a full-time career. A cruise ship magician would earn in the neighborhood of $100,000 a year. Your living expenses would be minimal. However, it would be difficult, but not impossible, to leverage your time among multiple performing venues and synergistic businesses.
The focus of this course is to teach and encourage you to create multiple income sources, and if you follow my advice you will be earning much more than $100,000 per year. For most, it would be cheaper, more convenient and more fun to do your shows and run your businesses on land and simply pay for a cruise if you want to go on a vacation. But there is a much better way to earn a high income at home and incorporate cruising into your lifestyle. I will explain how to optimize this excellent opportunity in this lesson.
Cruise ship work most certainly holds an important position in the Millionaire Magician's Plan, just not as a full-time occupation. If this work appeals to you, then book yourself as a magician for short runs occasionally, as I do. There is great value to this beyond the performance fee.
I have performed on approximately ten cruises during the past fifteen years, with three different cruise lines. All but one were fantastic experiences. Allow me to highlight some information that will be useful to you if you wish to pursue working on cruises.
Always be sure that your contract clearly stipulates that you have passenger status on board the ship. This means that your cabin is located with the passengers and is of the same standards. It also usually means that you can eat with the passengers, swim in the pool, and enjoy the cruise along with the paying customers. If this is not part of your agreement, then be prepared to sleep in the bowels of the ship and perform laborious crew duties. I've never been in this exact situation but have spoken to magicians who have and they regretted taking the work. The higher end ships do not ask for this at all. I am referring to small ships of cruise companies that are not well known. They also pay much less to entertainers. Don't even consider working for small unknown cruise companies that pay low fees of $300- $500 per week and expect you to take on duties other than as an entertainer.
Let me get the last bit of bad news out of the way. A few years ago, immediately after I sold my entertainment agency and decided to take a year or two off from working altogether, I was offered an eight-week contract from an agency in Vancouver that books a lot of cruises. This same agency had booked me a couple times in the past on the Princess Line, and those bookings had gone really well. I normally would never consider such a long contract for the financial reasons I mentioned in the beginning of this lesson. I also wasn't going to do any shows for a couple years while I took a sabbatical from work but figured this is a working vacation and why not.
Although my contract stipulated passenger status, this was not properly honored upon arrival. The ship itself was far from the luxury cruise liner that was represented to me by the agent. As a matter of fact, it was horrible. Why am I telling you all this? Because I've got issues, Man! Just kidding. There is an important lesson to be learned here. First, I fully accept responsibility for the situation I was in. I knew the name of the ship, and to find out more about it would have been easy. I relied solely on the word of the agent who was biased because he wanted to earn a commission. It was my fault, and my laziness, not to do a little research before committing to an eight-week deal. Eight weeks is a long time to be stuck in an uncomfortable environment. In addition to only accepting passenger status bookings, be sure to check out the vessel before committing to a cruise booking.
I am now going to tell you about a much more positive cruise gig experience that occurred just last year. I spent most of last February, a great time to leave Vancouver, in the South Pacific. I performed my comedy magic and mind-reading show on two different ships with back-to-back ten-day contracts on each. I met some great people, made some money, and came home relaxed with fully charged batteries.
I'd intended to take a vacation in February, anyway. The trip I took which ventured through Singapore, Australia and Bali would have cost me around $5,000.00, and that is about what I would have spent that month for a vacation. I went on my own, but could have brought a guest for free. If I had to pay for that person, my wife for example, add a few thousand dollars to the expense. Let's use the figure of $5,000, though, and do the math:
Vacation Expense: $5,000.
Booking Fee: $5,000.
So instead of spending $5,000, I made $5,000. There are tax considerations which change the numbers slightly, but that varies depending on your financial structure and income, so we'll ignore them for this illustration.
As far as I am concerned, I made $10,000 that month by saving $5,000 and earning $5,000. Now, $5,000-$10,000 in a month is much lower than you and I in our fortunate position can earn. Money isn't everything though, and if you work hard most of the year, as I hope you do, be sure to reward yourself often and enjoy your life. Take vacations, even when you don't get paid to do so!
A few days ago, I sent the following e-mail to the agency that booked me on that cruise:
I am in the midst of completing a course for magicians that will discuss various performing venues. I would be pleased to highlight your company in the Cruise Ship section, which may lead to several submissions to your company from qualified entertainers.
With your permission, I will offer your company information including your submission guidelines (from your web site). Would also like to email you some questions pertaining to working cruises that is not covered completely on your web site.
Please let me know if I can copy information from your site and email you some questions to be answered and returned by you within the next week or so.
Randy Charach 2808 W 39th Avenue Vancouver, BC Canada V6N 2Z4 http://www.charach.com PH: (604) 839-7937 FX: (604) 739-2866
She replied with the following email: Hello Randy,
Nice to hear from you. Please feel free to highlight our company in the cruise ship lesson. Although our business is 95% musicians, as you know, we have had the opportunity to offer work to "Headliners" such as yourself, and magicians.
Feel free to e-mail me questions, I will answer to the best of my ability.
Take care Randy,
Carolyn Coventry Vice-President of Operations
ProShip Entertainment Inc.
5253 Decarie Boulevard, Suite #308
Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3W 3C2
I just checked their web site more carefully, and realize that between my knowledge that I am sharing with you, and the information on their site, I do not think there will be unanswered questions. So, I will now write to her:
Hello again Carolyn,
Upon second look, I realize that there is plenty of information on your web site and there are no additional questions for me to ask you regarding the magician course project.
A couple weeks ago a fellow from your agency called and asked my availability for cruise work, which would run for several months in duration. I appreciate the call, but that is not possible for me at this time. I did mention, and want you to know, that I would love to do a 12 week booking. Perhaps between other performer contracts or as a fill in when a performer takes vacation. Maybe this summer on an Alaskan run that leaves from Vancouver so there is no travel expense for the cruise company. Anyway, please keep me in mind.
There really is a ton of information about working ships on the ProShip site. I have included what applies to magicians here and will tell you that the information is pretty standard across cruise lines and agencies that book acts on cruises. Some of it may seem harsh and in reality much of it is not actually upheld.
You likely realize that I am recommending ProShip to you as a great company to deal with and I suggest you approach them if this work appeals to you. You should also approach other agencies and the ships directly too.
What follows on the next several pages is a recapitulation of information provided by ProShip.
SALARY & BENEFITS
Your salary will be indicated on your employment contract along with the method of disbursement: weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
Salaries are always paid in U.S. currency and range from $1,000 to $3,000 per person per week. Meals, accommodation, airfare and excess luggage or Air Cargo charges for your equipment to and from the ship are included at no extra cost to you.
Depending on the Cruise Line policy, you may be able to invite friends and/or family to cruise with you at discount rates, after a certain period of employment.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.