Debi Diamond is currently the promotions, marketing, and sales manager/booking agent for The Diamond Image, Inc. She handles contract negotiations for two different shows: A Neil Diamond Tribute starring Keith Allynn and On the Road Again starring Not Really Willie. Although these shows spend most of the year at the Historic Owen’s Theatre in Branson, Missouri, Debi’s job is to book roadtrip gigs for both shows during Branson’s off-season. Last year, she booked a three-month winter tour that consisted of 48 gigs in 52 days. This year, she is hoping to book 55 gigs over a two-month time period.
Negotiations play an important role in booking these two shows in different venues. She must negotiate with each venue to first of all book Keith Allynn and his shows and then to come to an agreement on cost, lodging, and dates. Although Debi has not been a negotiator for very long (she first began in 2011), she has become familiar with several different negotiation tactics and identified how to handle each one.
The main tactic Debi uses is to work toward a mutual benefit. In order to book a venue, Debi first conducts an Internet search in the area around another venue that Keith Allynn is already booked in. She has specific mileage requirements for between the venues. Once she identifies a venue that meets those requirements, she begins to research the venue. She first takes a look at what type of venue it is and whether it is looking for outside entertainment. Then she researches the community it is located in to determine the local economy. Finally, she makes a cold call to the venue where she proceeds to find out what the venue’s needs are before she tells the venue how Keith Allynn’s shows will fit its needs. Once an offer has been made, she then researches the size of the venue, average attendance, and average price of ticket to determine whether or not the offer is fair. She keeps in mind at all times that the venue has its own costs that it needs to cover, but at the same time, she needs to find an arrangement that will be beneficial to both parties. She believes the best solution is a win-win solution for both sides.
Unfortunately, Debi has encountered positional bargaining in many instances while negotiating contracts that prevent the involved parties from finding that win-win solution. This usually ends up being counterproductive and leaves both sides at a standstill. She finds that this happens most often in cost negotiations when the venue is insistent on a specific cost and does not want to consider changing. At this point, Debi will usually offer other options that will bring the costs down for the venue while at the same time allowing the venue to pay The Diamond Image, Inc. a greater amount. Some of these options include ticket splitting, no deposits, or not paying travel expenses. Venues often find these to be attractive options and agree to continue negotiations.
One of the biggest areas that Debi has identified she needs to improve on is separating the people from the problem. This is because she tends to have a temper and take things personally. When the person she is negotiating with says something she does not like, she has a tendency to get mad and not want to deal with that person. This is despite the fact that she knows she needs to keep a business-like demeanor and remove her emotions from the situation. Her main goal is to look at everything she does as a negotiation and work on keeping her emotions at bay. It will be difficult to do this, but she intends to work hard on doing so.
As Debi works toward her target of booking 55 shows by the end of the year, she will continue to improve her negotiation strategies. Working toward a mutual benefit will remain her focus, but she will also strive to keep positional bargaining to a minimum and separate the people from the problem better than she currently does. There are always areas to improve on when it comes to negotiating, and Debi is more than ready for the challenge.