Entertaining on cruise ships; the easiest path to the job…

The Truth: You Have To Offer What They Want To Buy

You may have decided that the lifestyle change looks good to you and you are willing to give it a try. You may be the very best of your type of act in the world and have complete command of a showroom. The next bump in the road is whether you fit in with the entertainment philosophy of the booking agents and entertainment directors who decide what they want on their ships. They tend to work within formulas. And these formulas change with the fashion of the entertainment world.

For example, in recent years “branded entertainment” was all the vogue, but that is fading out now. Celebrity impressionists’ and tribute acts are hot right now, but ten years ago it was Cirque-style performances. Acts that have television credits demand a lot of attention from buyers today. For the last ten years, female singers (as Guest Entertainers) were very rare; now we are working with many! So, there is an ebb and flow to what is in demand.

As magicians, several years ago we were working with a lot of very large illusions, now most of our work requests are for comedy magic shows. Some magicians are still working large illusions shows, but I’d say the overall trend is toward comedy magic shows that fly out for a week or two and then move on to another assignment. But that could change again next month.

It is always easier to sell people what they want rather than what they need. Our point being that if the entertainment director is looking for what you do, it is much easier to get booked. We are very aware that the entertainment director of the cruise line isn’t necessarily looking to hire me; rather they need a “magician.” It has to be a good one, perhaps they will give thought to their demographics (e.g., this schedule attracts a lot of families so I want a magician that will appeal to children as well as adults), they might have budgetary concerns, but otherwise they are shopping for the “commodity” of magician. It is then up to me to prove that I can deliver the right show and to stand out among all the magicians looking for the same job. However, if we know that most all cruise lines hire magicians, we also know that we are offering something they are looking to buy.

If you have to convince them that your type of act (outside their formula) is a good idea, you have to work a little harder. However, if you are unique and get good ratings, you’ll work as much as you want to! Harder work may mean greater reward. The challenge is to educate them about your value. If you can do so and you are completely outside the norm, you will absolutely own the market. 

The truth is; the buyers are always looking for something new. There is great competition among cruise lines to outdo each other; and that is true of the entertainment seen on board as well. Thus there is an appetite for unique experiences. 

Bobbie and I constantly strive to update our show and remain relevant to today’s audience. Yet at the same time the core of what we deliver hasn’t changed all that much. We know how to entertain a cruise audience, which is job one. So we may put a fresh coat of paint on the act, but overall I keep the show within the style that has allowed me to work consistently for 30 years in the industry.

The key take away here is that the only rule here is to know your product and know how you fit into the overall entertainment industry. If you are a hot property, you will have an easier time selling yourself. Otherwise, you will have to find a different or more creative approach. Two paths: be in demand, or create the demand that only you can fill.

Next time we will look at one of the biggest predictors of success in the cruise entertainment market. Did this article get you thinking? Also, be sure to follow us on https://www.facebook.com/GigsOnShips to get articles and news about the cruise industry!