Skip to main content

Computers & Booking Entertainment

Every Tuesday night the auditorium becomes an opportunity for the residents to get their feet a tappin‘, sing their favorite songs, learn an interesting fact or two, or simply to be with their friends after dinner. And believe me, if the show is not up to their standards, I’ll know about it! I reduce the odds of having a bad show by using technology to schedule the entertainers each week.
First, let me remind you that technology is only as good as the information that you provide. If poor information is put into the system, then you will get an inaccurate end result from what ever program you are using. The information that I put into my computer comes from a human factor, my Activities Committee. They are selected by the Resident Board based on their interest. Each month, the committee and I meet and discuss the past entertainers as well as other topics. The committee rates each performer on a scale of 1 - 5 and it is recorded on my calendar. The members know that they are the “ears and eyes of the community” and that this should not just be based on their opinion. Since I will only bring back shows that earn a 4 or a 5, the group is conscientious about the ratings and sometime there is a lot of discussion around the table before a final number is given. As appose to my opinion or the random people who tell me about a show, I feel these ratings are more accurate and suitable information to put into my computer. Each of the performer’s names, date of the show and score is put into a simple WordPerfect table document. (In the future, I will be adding their fee.) I selected this format because I’m most familiar with it, but you might select another that works best for you.

When I am ready to hire an entertainer, I open the document and search through it to find when he or she was with us last and what their rating was. In a Word Perfect document, a quick way to find a certain word is by using Control F and then typing in the search criteria. It will take you to the first occurrence of the word(s) and then you can go to the next. In my search, for the Harmonicats, if they had a 4 or a 5, I would book them. If they did not, then I’d say, “my calendar is full right now” and I don’t try too hard to reconnect with them for a future date. (and YES, caller ID on our phones is a bit of technology that I am thankful for.) Since I only hire a performer once a year, this system works for determining when they were with us last and it makes it easier to keep a handle on that also.

Another way that I use the computer to hire entertainers is when I am searching for new acts. I receive recommendations from many sources, including residents, staff, phone calls and e-mails. When I get an email, I save it. When it comes time to look for the e-mail, I use the search feature in my e-mail software to help me located it faster. You might even consider creating a sub-folder in your email that is just for emails from entertainers. I am not going into details about how to do those things because each software is different. Look into how yours works. Don’t be afraid to search around. It is the best way to learn about your computer’s software.

I also use the computer to learn more about the recommendations from my friends and from the persistent “new to the area” performer who wants a job by checking out their websites. Many acts now have sites that list referrals, as well as provide sound clips to hear. I also find information on their sites that help me to promote the show in the community such as photos for the poster I’ll make to promote their show, or verbiage that the Master of Ceremonies uses to introduce the show. If the performer does have a website, I save it under my favorites, in a file that I’ve created called Entertainers. That way, I have it for the future and I can see what’s new on their site when I book them for the future. This is a great help for me.

If a performer does not have a website, most of them use email at this point. I ask them to email me a few things; a contract so they can get paid, a W9 form if they are new to our system, a picture if they have one and any information that they want us to use in publicizing their show. Most of this information is saved on my computer in a file called Entertainers Information. I save it with the act’s name in that folder and I can easily access it in the future.

The key ways that I’ve use technology to assist me are first, to understand the importance of creating a good beginning point with clearly accessible facts (performers name, date, rating), being able to use the internet to learn about the subject and lastly to file the items that you get on your computer (documents, websites, photos, etc) in such a way that you will be able to retrieve them easily. I hope that you can see how technology can be used to make one of the elements of being an Activities director easier and more productive.

Popular posts from this blog

Veterans Day Service

In our retirement community, Veterans Day is a very special event. This holiday honors the living veterans who served and are serving our great country. In our independent living community, we have Veterans from WWII, the Koren War and Vietnam War. Veterans Day is always celebrated on November 11 at 11:00 a.m.  (I think really it is suppose to be 11:11 am, but that might look funny on your calendar.)
Our program usually involves a few key elements. The first is that we ask the men in the community to make sure that we have the service stats so that we can announce their branch and length of service. This information may be printed on the day's program, used as part of a slide show or shared by the speaker leading the program.  We like to give our veterans a chance to stand out on this day. We ask them to gather together and proceed into the auditorium to sit in a reserved section for them. Sometimes I order a boutonniere or corsage for them to wear into the service, or give them a…

Brain Games

Recently we hosted our senior Olympics program. This year we added a new event called Brain Games. I found a really good link for brain games that you should look at to understand the definition.
After looking at that link and reading through some other online material, I realized that there is a difference between training your brain and brain games. Be mindful (pun intended) that you are not qualified to train resident's brains unless you have gone to training for it. We, as activities professionals however, are very capable of playing brain games with those who are interested in our communities.
Recently, I introduced Scattergories, Apples to Apples,Wii Jeopardy,Wii Wheel of Fortune and a Name that Tune type of game.  They are fun games that required your brain, so I thought that they were Brain Games. This last game, Name that Tune, I created on my own since I could not find anything that would have been appropriate for this generation to identify with. I downloaded music from t…

4 Pictures 1 Word Game for the Big Screen

Many of you who have played 4 Pictures 1 Word, know that this brain game is available as an app for your computer, tablet or phone for free. That is great, bu it does not allow a team to play and is not audience friendly if you wanted to present it at your retirement community (or other social gathering). 
After some time and effort, I made a 4 Pictures and 1 Word game  slide show that you can use in your community. I did use the app for suggestions and the Internet for the pictures. I am glad to share this with you so that you will not have to spend the hours that I did in creating this game. If you get the urge to make one also, please come back to this blog page and share it.  I played this last week with a group of about 25 independent living residents.We did not get through all of the slides due to time constraints..... but I was glad I did not run out of slides in my hour that I had their attention. I will be playing this with them again... and would love to have other slides t…