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Mindpro
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Eldon and everyone, thanks for your thoughts and input. Since starting this thread I've been doing some informal surveying and it seems to be along the lines of some of what's being expressed here.

Unlike many entertainment venues, seems there is no real cut and dry, concrete reasons restaurants have an entertainer. Now my question was specifically regarding just restaurants, not pubs, restaurants with bars, etc., but simply dine-in restaurants.

I has 150 respondents to my questionaire and it's funny how undefined it really is compared to other entertainment markets. The top two answers were 1. to attract kids and families on a slower non-prime weeknight, Tuesday being the most popular followed by Wednesday and Thursday. 2. To minimize wait time either in a waiting/reception area or once orders have been taken before the food arrives.

Length of appearance ranged from 90 minutes to 2-1/2 hours.

The biggest thing I that seem to show any signs of consistency...was the inconsistency. Most approached teh idea of having magic (almost all of them with just a few exceptions) because someone (a magician) approached them in person. They usually liked the person and "were willing to try it". I heard the "willing to try it" over and over again. Ultimately 3/4 dropped it within the first 6 weeks, saying while it was fun and some liked it, there was no way to allow it to pay for itself directly. Most were glad they did try it, some received complaints. The biggest complaints were it was invasive, and the magician directly tried to promote himself directly to the customers too much. They thought this might have been more acceptable if they were working for free and that was part of the arrangement, but other than signage and tabletents, they didn't expect such direct "sales" type of promotion.

Several, actually quite a few, specifically said and compared it to classic car shows. As they are both events that allowed the restaurant to promote, but the car shows could directly pay for itself through direct sales to the car owners and the audience they would generate.

Most seemed to piggyback the magic appearance with a kids eat free/discount night special. Very few branded anything related to the magician, which surprised me quite a bit. Most said they never thought of that or the magician never offered such ideas.

We (my agencies) don't book this market much at all, but the several times we did we always branded our apprarances with the restaurant, and always had pretty decent long-term relationships, some using magicians, but also with face painters, caricature artists, balloon artists, psychics, etc.

There were several managers that stated they tried a magician specifically because they came from another restaurant where they had a successful family night that featured a magician, and due to it's success they wanted to try it at their current location too. However it was the justification of the costs, and the willingness to do it long enough and consistent enough to allow such a theme night to become established that they had problems with. Most owners and some of the managers didn't want to deal with the costs for a long enough period to establish such an event or theme night.

Most of the problems always seemed to be justifying the cost. Residual benefits were nice but they all seemed to be seeking direct, immediate benefits, more quickly.

There also seemded to be some conflicting or confusing thoughts on the magician's themselves. Many seemed approached by "younger" or "beginner" magician's which they complained didn't seem to understand or care for their business or larger picture objectives. At the same time they seemed intimidated by the older, seasoned magician that seemed to be a smooth-talker making all kinds of promised and ideas that bordered on them (the magician) trying to tell them (the manager) how to run their business. Several also mentioned and expressed a serious concern for "the creep factor" of some of the adult magicians. They seemed to speak highly of the older, "grandpa-like" magician which I found interesting.

In the end most seemed to try it because they've heard of or knew someone that had done it before with varying degrees of success. But there was no apparent direct, measurable benefits to justify the cost in their eyes, and many expressed that once they agreed to "try it" the magician seemed to only focus on their magic performance, not all of the goals and things they claimed they (the magician and the manger) could try to achieve together.

In the end, it was nothing I really hadn't known or thought anyhow. There were a few surprises in managements and the public's perception of it, but my original question was more about the "why" as it pertained to the restaurants, and I was having trouble understanding why in the magic world it such a common or popular area or market with magicians. So I thought perhaps maybe there was more to it than I understood. From what I've learned there really wasn't. Other than the entertainment factor, which I was reminded over and over again "we're really not an entertainment venue" the anticipated results of how it could benefit their business never fully materialized, so they often ceased it, perceiving it as an unnecessary expense.

I think this, in my opinion comes down to magician's being lousy business people. They seemed to have created a market, seem to talk themselves into an opportunity or chance, but then dropped the ball at that point only choosing to focus on their magic, rather than the true promotional aspect of the arrangement which sees to be the main interest of the management. Kind of seems like maybe the magician's tend to ruin it for themselves. They put all their efforts into getting the account, and little into maintaining and sustaining it.

Anyway, just wanted to update everyone, thank them for their thoughts and share some of the perspectives I received. Now where's my food?
charliecheckers
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Thanks for sharing your survey results and thoughts. I have not pursued this market, but the subject interests me. We're you able to get any break down on the type of restaurant that was more likely to be able to benefit from magicians. One reason I have not pursued this market is because those that appeal to kids/families tend to be a bit lower priced menus meaning they have less to pay entertainers. Perhaps those that choose to work these restaurants do so at lower fees and over promote to justify their time.
I would think that magicians that provide entertainment for adults would be more able to find opportunities at upscale restaurants where they can be paid more in line with what they normally charge - so it works out better for both sides. I would be interested to see if your survey was able to address these different types of restaurants and areas of magic.
Eldon
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Virden, IL
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Mindpro, Thanks for sharing. Looking back, most of the restaurants I have worked over the years were Tuesday and Wednesday Nights with a family night tie-in.
Ken Northridge
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Atlantic City, NJ
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I would think the restaurant is trying to separate itself from the competition by giving their patrons personal attention. It is a very classy idea, as is the strolling violinist. Trouble is most restaurants are not classy enough to afford it, and if they do try it they will resort to having someone who will work for tips only. This turns this wonderful idea into a horrible idea. Instead of providing their clients with personalized entertainment they end up fleecing them for extra change!

In other words, having a magician in a restaurant can be a really good idea, but it takes the right combination of a manager/owner and magician. It takes a magician the not only knows his craft well, but most importantly has a pleasing personality and knows how to work as a team player. And it takes a manager/owner that can see the big picture and realize its more than just serving good food. In my experience, this is a rare combination.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
www.KenNorthridge.com
Michael Messing
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Knoxville, TN
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I've worked in a couple of restaurants doing table side magic and balloons and the problem I ran into was the restaurant not promoting it at all. I was brought in to increase the family business for the restaurants on slow nights. I created table tent cards for the restaurants to advertise the night and the specials (they didn't do free kids meals but they did reduced pricing.) Neither restaurant did not put my table tents up during the week. They put them on the tables about 30 minutes before I got there. (I figured it out when I got there early and they were just pulling them out.) The owner and manager completely failed to understand the point. (If you don't put them out on other nights, people won't know to come in on the special night!)

Both restaurants had signs with removable/changeable lettering so they could put up messages. Neither of them posted that their was a "Magic Night", even after I discussed it with them. I posted my appearances on Facebook, sent postcards to customers, etc. but the restaurants did nothing. Then, they were disappointed with the results! (The second restaurant did regular radio commercials advertising the bands that would be appearing there. I asked the owner if he could just mention the Magic Night but he never did.)

The thing is I had several families that started going to the restaurants I was performing at on a regular basis but it wasn't a large enough group. I'm sure it would have been more successful if the owner/manager had put in just a little more marketing effort. (Most of the suggestions I had for them did not have any extra cost for them!)
Dannydoyle
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I doubt it would have had as large an impact as you think. Magicians often overestimate the drawing power they possess.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Michael Messing
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I didn't expect the restaurants to be full because of me but it would have been nice to know if the tiniest of efforts would have had much of an effect.
themagicguy
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Australia
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I find the only reason I have my gigs is because the bosses like me and they are already successful restaurants. If they are expecting you to draw more customers on a weekly basis you're screwed!
Dannydoyle
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Well that is the truth. The worst part is that often that is part of the pitch magicians use to sell themselves.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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