A note from the editor...
Hey Artists and Craftspeople,
This month I bring you an article written by one of the founders of
Festival Network Online, Kurt Irmiter, who worked the festival circuit
before opening FNO. He has lots of experience packed into this
article about booking your show calendar. Enjoy.
Booking up your Show Calendar - So many shows, so little time!
by Kurt Irmiter
You know the saying about real estate, restaurants and
retail; "Location, Location, Location"! Well, my saying here is;
Organization, Organization, Organization!
In this article I will deal with the process of how to go about filling
your calendar, hopefully with nothing but great and profitable
shows. Keep in mind though, this article does not deal with good
show selection, which is another topic all together and would need to
be covered separately.
The reason I say Organization as your top priority is that with all the
different requirements and deadlines involved when you apply to an
event and the need to apply to multiple events for each weekend you
want to fill, you must be organized. Here are some simple steps to
follow toward that goal.
1) Create your list
of possible shows. Research all the likely events on a given
weekend, making use of all the show information sources you use. Then
select at least five to twenty possibilities for each weekend. To
develop your list, I of course recommend Festival Network Online (
https://festivalnet.com ). There are many other good sources out there
and it never hurts to use several. Again, here I am not going to
address how you select what may be a good show for you and your
product, just the organizational process. Make your selections as
far in advance as possible, 6-12 months, so you don't miss deadlines
and then organize your list in priority order by the application
deadline. If you have events on your list that you don't have the
deadline for, call those first and make sure that the deadline has not
2) Next, narrow it
down and request some applications. Call each event (working
through your list in order of deadlines) and verify the
information you have; dates, fees, attendance, number of booths, nature
of the event, application requirements, deadlines, other activities
that will be part of the event... This is always a good idea
regardless of the source where you got your information, as things
change and sometimes wrong information is provided by the event
sponsor. When you call, also try to get a feel for the event from
the person you talk with. Ask questions like, "Do they have a lot
of returning exhibitors/vendors each year", "Is it difficult to get
in", "Has attendance been up or down in recent years", "Do the people
that attend like to spend"? Ask if you can get the name and
number of a returning exhibitor/vendor. You can sometimes get enough
insight about the event from this initial conversation to determine
that you do not want to request an application and strike from your
list. But, if all checks out and the deadline has not passed,
request the application.
3) Keep it all on
track. Now that you have all these applications coming in, you
must make sure nothing slips through the cracks. You may want use
a contact manager or database program to keep your information
organized, but a file cabinet and file folders will work fine
too. One thing you absolutely must have, is a "To Do" calendar,
be it a hard copy day planner, or a computer based calendar/day planner
program. This is where you keep track of what needs to be done by
date. Every time you do something on an event (request
application, return application, make follow-up call...) make an entry
in your "To Do" calendar/planner for the next step that needs to be
taken. The next step may be a week, a month or two days in
the future, but make sure there is an entry somewhere in your
calendar/planner for every event you are pursuing. You should
always pursue 5-20 events for each weekend you want to work. This
will maximize your odds of being booked as much as you want to work.
4) Last but not
least, follow-up is very important. Stay on top of each and every
detail about each event. Once the application is requested, put a
follow-up in your "To Do" calendar to check back in two weeks if the
application has not arrived and then do it! After the application
is filled out and sent back, put a new follow-up in your "To Do"
calendar to call them in two weeks and make sure they got it.
After you have been accepted, put another follow-up in your "To Do"
calendar to send your booth fee by the required date. The worst
feeling in the world is to get accepted to an event and then loose your
spot because you missed the deadline to send in your booth fee! After
you do send your fees and contract, add a follow-up in two weeks to
make sure they got your check, contract, permits... You get the
If you will follow this process for each weekend you want to work and
seek out at least 5-20 events for each of those weekends, you should
have a full calendar and hopefully a prosperous year! Good Luck!
Kurt Irmiter: Co-owner of Festival Network Online
He has over 20 years of festival, entertainment, and business experience.
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