Archive for August 12th, 2009

Making The Cash Register Ring

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

My professional career started out in piano bars. At one such establishment, I was hoping to curry favor with club owner Mickey Bickers by playing his favorite song. So I asked him, “What do you want to hear?” Mickey’s answer struck me as profound: “David,” he said. “I want to hear the cash register ring.”

Through the years, I’ve learned that – not just club owners – but every hostess and party professional wants that same thing. They want an evening that will be so wonderful that all their guests will have their best time ever. However, in order to make that happen, they must do what Mickey did: tailor each event – start to finish – to the invited guests.

Example: This past New Year’s Eve, my band was hired to play at one of my town’s “old money” country clubs. That wasn’t unusual – but the hours were. For the first time ever, we were engaged to play from 7PM until 11:00. Or – to state it another way – we were supposed to quit, one hour before the New Year actually arrived.

I thought it was crazy. As it turned out, it was brilliant. A big screen television hung behind us. At one minute ’til 11:00, the TV was turned on, just in time to see Dick Clark emcee the dropping of the ball in Times Square. (I live in the Central Time Zone, an hour earlier than New York City.) My guests cheered, the band played “Auld Lang Syne,” and – after dancing in “the new year” (well – it was 2009 somewhere) – the happy guests all went home.

The country club – knowing their (older) audience well – had given them all the trappings of a traditional New Year’s Eve celebration, but had done so on the schedule which best suited their crowd.

Other ways to keep almost everybody happy, almost all the time, include moving wedding receptions along according to the guests’ inner clocks, not those of the bride and groom (who are always the last to arrive at the party), and matching the musical volume and repertoire to the age and tastes of the majority.

Party planners want their guests to have a great time. What not all realize, however, is that audience enjoyment depends far less on how much money the host spends, than on how well they match the pace of their event to the needs and likes of those they have invited.

If every host and hostess had a Mickey Bickers to set them on the right path, there would be a lot more “perfect” parties.