A Day in the Life of a Mentalist – Oakley Hall Hotel

Photo showing the Inciper Ltd celebrating

As an entertainer, you cannot always be sure where your next booking will come from. However, if you are booked because someone has seen you perform at another event, you will never be out of business. My latest ‘A Day in the Life of a Mentalist’ series covers a booking that happened precisely like that; the client (Inciper Ltd) saw me perform my After Dinner Entertainment act before Christmas and decided it was exactly what they needed.

An Advocate from the Beginning

Mark Roberts and David Sanderson, founders of Inciper Ltd, booked me to perform at the company’s third anniversary celebrations after Mark had seen me perform at a 50th Birthday celebration. Having grown considerably since their inception, Inciper Ltd celebrate with all their employees and book an annual overnight stay at a country house. This year they had selected Oakley Hall Hotel in Basingstoke; a beautiful location complete with old-fashioned flair and modern twists.

A Photo of Oakley Hall Hotel
Oakley Hall Hotel – The Perfect Hosts

The Long and Winding Road

The 3.5-hour drive was not too arduous, but I had to leave in plenty of time to ensure I was able to set up the show before guests arrived. Another aspect that put me at ease before this long journey was I had already met the clients and knew them to be great characters; often as an entertainer, you don’t always get to deal with the client directly before the day, especially for business events.

I arrived around 3.30pm and was greeted by hotel management who were lovely and took me to the Bramley Room. This was to be my dressing room and holding area until the performance. However, complete with a large flat screen TV, I ensured I made use of the facilities and caught up on the football as I unpacked the show.

The Garden Room

Now able to set up the show downstairs, I took my props to the Garden Room which had already been prepared for the evening’s dinner. There was a space for me at the front but only around three metres in between me and the first row of tables. For anyone in the magic and entertainment industry, having and audience that close when you’re not intending to perform close-up magic, can leave you a little vulnerable. However, having been in the industry for 14 years performing at all sorts of venues, I did some quick calculations and couldn’t foresee this intimate spacing as being an issue.

I set up the show, including a prediction envelope (complete with a large black question mark on the front), which I left on the mantlepiece. Hoping the hotel staff and any guests who arrived early would realise it was part of the act and not touch it, I went back to my changing room and waited for guests to arrive.

The Main Event

I don’t usually eat before a performance but as I had a couple of hours, I was able to enjoy a sit-down meal while I did my own social media and marketing.

I soon received a message from Mark and David to say they had arrived and went down to meet them so we could brief each other on what was happening throughout the evening with regards to our respective responsibilities.

As the guests arrived, they selected their own name card from a side table and sat where they desired rather than having a space allocated for them which I felt was a nice touch. Mark and David gave a speech and kindly introduced me for the pre-dinner show.

A room of around 50, there was no need to have a microphone and it’s always lovely to be able to see individual people rather than a sea of indiscernible faces. With an intimate gathering such as this one, I was able to make eye contact with almost every member of the audience at some point throughout the performance which is essential to connect with them.

As a group, they were very receptive, and everything went well. I felt I put on a good show and was even able to try some new things as well as amending other parts of my performance from previous shows. I am pleased with how they went and will likely replicate them in the future.

Photo of the Inciper team
The Inciper Team

View the Review

Finally, I always gauge feedback by if a client seeks me out after the performance which Inciper Ltd did immediately. Asking me where they could leave feedback, I received this 5* Google review in the days that followed:

“Looch provided the pre-dinner entertainment for our annual company celebration after I had seen him perform at a prior event. Looch had the whole audience fully immersed in his show and amazed with his performance and mind-blowing skills. He created a real buzz in the room during and after the show – still being talked about now. Big thanks from all the Inciper team.”

Mark Roberts, CEO and Co-founder of Inciper Ltd

Thank you to both Mark and David for inviting me to be part of your celebrations. Here’s to the next three years and beyond and I wish you and your team every success as you continue to grow.

A Day in the Life of a Mentalist – Stubton Hall

Stubton Hall ready for my show

Tis the season where bookings for weddings reduce but demand for corporate events and private parties is high. But bookings don’t simply happen through a phone call alone. Many people book my services once they have seen what I do, which is why life as a mentalist can be….well, mental, as networking is key to ensure people get a flavour of my act.

It was through networking that a 50th birthday booking came about and it led to a truly wonderful event that I was delighted to be a part of.

The Mind Reader Meets The Business Doctor

Michael Hardy, who is a Business Doctor, was literally the first person I met at a business expo held at Colwick Racecourse earlier this year. I like to attend events like these as I enjoy meeting business owners and learning more about what they do; I also get to show them that mentalism isn’t about magic tricks.

After chatting to Michael and giving him a demonstration, I received an email a few days later booking me for his 50th birthday celebrations which were to be held at Stubton Hall a stunning location which I have had the pleasure of performing at a number of times. Renowned for its unspoilt, rural surroundings and elegant rooms, it’s a perfect venue for special occasions.

At first, I was just going to perform my Mix and Mingle act while guests arrived. However, Michael’s wife, Jen, soon took over and decided my After Dinner Entertainment would be better, particularly as the couple were using the birthday celebrations to raise money for CASY, a Newark charity which provides Counselling And Support for Young people.

Networking Is Key

Once the booking had been made, I started to see more and more of Michael on the business circuit, which meant we were able to build up a relationship. This is a wonderful feeling to have as an entertainer as you don’t see your job as ‘work’ but as something to look forward to and enjoy yourself.

The big day arrived and I travelled to the venue nice and early to set up on the stage (although there was really no point seeing as the band performing that evening moved my entire act onto the floor for their sound test: thus is the nature of show business though).

Once family and friends began to trickle through the door and to the bar, I was able to begin my mix and mingle – always careful not to pounce until they are settled, caught up with people they haven’t seen for a while and more importantly, with a drink in hand. As well as being an ice breaker, the Mix and Mingle is also a perfect opportunity for me to see which guests were the perfect ‘participants’ for the evening show. Luckily, there were more than enough suitable candidates.

Showtime!

Before I took to the stage, Michael’s daughter announced a bucket list he had to complete throughout the year. And what a list! It has everything from the more simplistic tasks of give blood, adopt an animal and write a poem to the more extreme challenges of complete an indoor skydive, host a charity event and climb a peak. Good luck Michael!

Then it was on to the main event for me, a one-hour long performance with a fantastic audience. They were receptive, funny and had great banter meaning the interaction with them was fantastic and something that is on my wish list for any audience. You don’t always get crowds like that in my industry; audiences that are willing to just let go but when you do, it makes for an amazing atmosphere. I received a standing ovation at the end of the performance too which was a wonderful experience for me personally.

A photograph showing a standing ovation for looch at the end of his show.
Standing Ovation at Stubton Hall

After it was over, a number of guests stopped me as I was leaving to discuss my act and I ended up performing a small show down the corridor and have been booked for a corporate event as a result.

In total, Michael’s celebrations raised over £1,800 for CASY, so he can certainly tick off ‘host a charity event’ from the bucket list.

What a fantastic event and one I will also remember for a long time. I would like to thank Michael and his family for inviting me to perform and al the wonderful staff at Stubton Hall for their hard work behind the scenes.