When Should You Go With a Corporate Trivia Vendor That ISN’T TrivWorks?

corporate.event.game.show.jpgCorporate trivia event game show

I am immensely proud of what I do. It’s taken almost ten years of extremely hard and dedicated work to get TrivWorks to where it is today, which is the industry-leading corporate team trivia game show vendor in the country. I’ve produced well over 1,000 events nationwide for some of the largest and most-respected Fortune 500 companies in the world, and have established emcee partnerships with some of the greatest professional trivia hosts working today.

And yet, I may still not be the right fit for you.

How can this be, you wonder? (and why on Earth am I writing about this on my blog??)

While I am indeed the go-to vendor for what I do, which is trivia team building and company event entertainment, I am NOT all things to all people. What I do is incredibly specialized, and if you are seeking the type of corporate entertainer or competitive office bonding events I provide, than I’m your guy, hands down. However, if you are seeking something else, I may in fact not be the right vendor for you.

I wrote an article earlier this year entitled “What Does the WRONG TrivWorks Client Look Like?” This was a case study about somebody who made an event inquiry, and I encourage you to read it if you, too, are considering using my services. However, in this post I’d like to explore in more detail the exact kinds of clients, events or goals which I may not actually be best-suited to work with you for.

You Want a TV Game Show Experience

I get this type of inquiry all the time. Somebody is looking for a live version of Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Let’s Make a Deal or similar show.

Sorry – that’s not what I do.

The live corporate quiz show has been a mainstay of the event entertainment world since the advent of television. Planners want to give their audience a way to experience what they see on their screens firsthand: to be contestants, star in the show, and have the chance to win lots of shiny prizes.

I get that. But again, that’s not what I do.

I’ve never been a fan of traditional corporate game shows, for several reasons. For one, not everybody gets to play. That may not matter to some planners, but to me, as a team building expert and audience engagement guy, I want to see EVERYBODY in the room participating, not just a lucky two or three folks who are fortunate enough to get to go up onstage and play. While no doubt fun for the contestants, where’s the enjoyment for everybody else? Watching? They could do that at home, staring at the tube!

I’ve also found that these types of interactive corporate event entertainment activities are just…corny. It doesn’t matter how high-tech or low-tech they get; if you’re trying to literally reproduce what happens on TV in a live event format somehow, it’s going to come off as forced. The props, the buzzers, bells, lights and all – so cheesy, I can’t stand it.

Perhaps the worst of all is that people seeking this type of vendor also want an emcee who plays the clichéd role of game show host: the “announcer’s voice,” bleached-white smile, sparkly sequenced blazer, and goofy persona.

I HATE that.

It’s not me, it’s not what I’m about and I won’t do it.

Okay…now that I’ve made clear what I’m NOT about, what exactly ARE my events like?

For one thing, everybody plays. Everybody. The senior-most executive, the new-hire who just started that day, the international guy visiting from an office abroad, the summer intern – everybody. I don’t produce events where just a handful of people get to go up onstage and be stars; I want the ENTIRE audience to participate, to be directly engaged from start to finish, and have an absolute blast.

I’m also not looking for a cheesy game show, but rather, for the experience to be a party-like atmosphere from beginning to end. I’m looking for:

  • Raucous high energy
  • Tons of audience interaction
  • Hilarious belly laughs
  • Funny team names & wrong answers
  • Good-natured taunting, teasing & heckling
  • A little bit of edginess, and a lot of spontaneity

To me, these are the ingredients of a fun & memorable event – not some forced, knockoff version of what you see on TV. I want these events to be uniquely fun, memorable, and to leave a lasting impact by delivering something totally different from what the audience has ever done before.

You’re Looking for Something Cheap

I could probably fill an entire hard drive with event inquiries I’ve gotten over the years, which have some version of the following description of the event being sought:

  • Light
  • Basic
  • Simple
  • Informal
  • Casual

99 times out of 100, what the inquirer really winds up meaning is “cheap.”

Events cost a lot, I get that. If you want to properly entertain or reward employees, clients or event attendees, there’s going to be a ton of fixed expenses, such as:

  • Venue
  • Food & beverage
  • Transportation
  • Favors
  • Equipment rental

Oftentimes what happens is, after the “big” expenses have been allocated – venue, food & beverage – whatever’s left is earmarked for entertainment. The problem, of course, is that this figure is frequently low – sometimes VERY low. As such, the planner or planners will either A) make a list of the most cost-effective corporate event entertainment activities they can come up with, B) scour the internet for ideas, or C) do a combination of both.

Now, I’ve been in a tough spot in this regard ever since I started my company as a side business back in 2009, before going full-time with it in 2012. My challenge? Bar quiz nights and trivia in general has only grown in popularity since then, meaning there is a quiz night at virtually any pub, restaurant, saloon, tavern, speakeasy or food truck these days. The ubiquity of trivia apps like this one has also helped people scratch their itch for brain games, which is great – however, the trouble with all of this ubiquitous trivia is that there’s a perception that it’s a commodity.

Planners working in the events world long enough know what corporate entertainment costs. They know there’s a premium to be paid for experience, expertise, professional talent and specialization, and that you get what you pay for. It’s easier for me, then, to sell my services to veteran event professionals, because there’s no sticker shock when I share my fees; they know what to expect going in. The analogy I like to use here is cars: if you’re in the market for a high-performance sports car and walk into a Ferrari dealership, you shouldn’t be floored by the prices you see.

Where the trouble lies sometimes is with people who don’t plan a lot of events. Very often, the person who is organizing, or even making the final decision, has absolutely no idea how much stuff costs – or is supposed to cost. With corporate trivia, they look around and say, “Hey, we could either go to the free bar trivia night down the street, or hire someone to come in and do an event for us – it can’t be that much more expensive.”

But alas, that’s the problem – it is.

I can’t deliver a cheap event, because A) I only work with highly seasoned & experienced professional emcees, not bar trivia hosts; B) I customize the content, to fit the exact audience in attendance; and C) I have unmatched experience and expertise producing corporate trivia nights for all industries.

I’ve said it before, and will say it again and again: you get what you pay for. If you want a cheap event, if spending the bare minimum is the most important thing to you, then by all means hire the pub quiz guy from down the street. Will he be polished and professional? Who knows. Will he have much corporate experience, if any at all? Again, who knows. Will the content be customized for your goals and group? Doubtful. Will he have team building expertise? Don’t bet on it.

Whether directly or indirectly, all of these above factors come with a price attached. I pay my emcees top-dollar, because they’re worth it; I have professional writers, producers and other staff whom I have to compensate; and the time I personally invest in every event is valuable, and must be accounted for. All told it’s not cheap – but it IS guaranteed to be the most professional, entertaining and effective corporate trivia game show experience available anywhere.

You’re Seeking to Fundamentally Alter What I Do

My events are based on proven formats which have been developed through many years of experimentation, trial & error, and field testing. I’m the industry leader in this, I know what I’m doing; if you let me do what I know I’m good at, doing it in a way I know that works, I can guarantee you and your group a fantastic experience! (follow this link for more on how to be a dream client of mine).

If you want to do it your way instead, that might be a problem.

Every event TrivWorks produces is indeed customized, and yet the experience is still reliably professional and well-executed. That’s why some of the world’s biggest companies hire me, because they know they can depend upon me to deliver an event which is tailored to their group, but will also be flawlessly delivered on account of my years of specialized experience.

When prospective clients start to play with that, it can cause unnecessary headaches.

Back when I was working at New York’s 92nd Street Y, a prestigious cultural center & speakers’ venue, I was listening to a lecture being given by a celebrity chef. I learned many things that night, but in particular I remember several lessons he gave to diners who wanted to be good restaurant patrons. One of them was to “go with it” – whatever the chef is doing with the food, to trust his or her expertise in the kitchen, rather than try to change things around from your seat out in the dining room (if you want a specific example from this lecture, the chef said at his restaurants, they’re always willing to leave ingredients out of dishes based upon a patron’s request, but won’t put other ingredients IN).

The same goes for my corporate entertainment, employee team building and brand engagement trivia events. I’m happy to make tweaks in the format, in order to fit your event run-of-show or your personal tastes. However, once you start requesting big changes in an effort to morph what it is I do into something else entirely, then I can no longer guarantee the experience my reputation is built upon. I’ve already mentioned how I’m loathe to make the TrivWorks experience a traditional “game show” – if you’ve got something else in mind that’s majorly different from what I do, then maybe this time around, for this particular gig, I’m not the right vendor for you.


In closing, I want to say that I’m not in the business of turning away would-be clients – what kind of vendor would I be if I was? I am a specialty vendor, meaning I only do a limited number of things; however, I do them EXTREMELY well.

I never set out to be all things to all clients. I do offer a diversity of experiences, formats and hosts, and can provide dozens of different permutations and combinations around my core service. Yet the core service still remains the same, and is the reason companies hire me (instead of, say, the bar trivia host down the block, or the one-stop shopping vendor who is a jack of all trades, but master of none).

I am passionate about what I do, and assure you I want nothing more than to deliver the absolute greatest experience I possibly can to your group. However, if what you’re seeking doesn’t match up with what I’m offering – if there’s a fundamental disconnect in expectation of experience or price – I’m afraid that even if I bent over backwards I wouldn’t be able to give to you what it is you looking for. In all honestly, this may not work for you; you’d be better serviced by another provider.

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