Private Trivia Parties: What Will Make Yours a Success?

private trivia partiesTo be honest, I don’t do a whole lot of private trivia parties. Besides not being a core part of my mission – I founded TrivWorks in 2009 specifically as a corporate entertainment and team building vendor, in direct response to the global financial crisis – there’s a ton of challenges and moving parts with private events which make for a far less common booking.

If someone’s looking for a high-end, high-quality trivia experience for a special occasion, I’m your guy. I actually really enjoy doing private events, as I’ve written about here previously. I’ve had the pleasure of producing and personally emceeing family events nationwide, from posh New York City restaurants and apartments, to a 5-star resort in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, to the cliffs of Laguna Beach, CA. However, truth be told most of the folks who contact me seeking something like this would be just as happy with the local quiz night host down the street.

Which direction should you go if you’re in the market for a private trivia party? Let’s take a look at some of the major factors individually.


We can’t avoid talking about price. TrivWorks is a premium brand, and as such my rates aren’t cheap: whether in-person or virtually via Zoom, I provide a high-quality experience which includes professional emcees, support staff, customized content and a turnkey format, each of which has an associated cost. Even if it’s a very small local event, I still have to ask one of my emcees to give up his or her entire night in order to perform, meaning I must compensate them at their full rate. And if I’m personally hosting the event myself, I need to make sure I’m properly compensated for my time as well.

Other direct costs include travel, which may include airfare, car rental, gas and/or hotel expenses and more. The more time and distance required for my emcee, the more I need to compensate them, since I’m asking them to travel on behalf of TrivWorks and want to be fair.

I’m keenly aware that if you’re considering hiring me to send a professional trivia host for a party, be it a birthday, anniversary, rehearsal dinner or what have you, that you aren’t a corporation. There is no check being cut by accounts payable, no invoice to submit, no team building bucket this is coming out of. Rather, you’re paying directly out of your own pocket. I will always, always be flexible here with that knowledge. However, I still have my fixed expenses I can’t get around. I can guarantee to you and your guests a truly fantastic experience, but as with anything you really do get what you pay for, and I need to make sure my expenses are covered in order to deliver for you.

For this reason, I find that price really is the determining factor. Just this week in fact, I spoke with a prospective client who was planning her 70th birthday. She loves game shows, loves pop culture, and absolutely LOVED everything I was telling her on the phone about what I do, and what I could do to make her milestone affair special. However, after submitting my proposal, her husband Emailed me back to say that while he’s sure I’m great at what I do, what I offer is “too much firepower” for what they’re seeking.

I suspect what he really meant was, given the relatively small number of people being invited to an informal backyard function, they couldn’t justify spending so much to bring in a professional from out of town for this. If I had to guess, I’d say they’ll probably wind up doing it themselves.

Client Service

As part of my services, I provide all TrivWorks corporate clients with ongoing counsel regarding all aspects of their events: customization, logistics, tech/AV, room setup, answering any and all questions, providing additional information as needed (Follow this link for more). This is pretty standard for me, as I have a client service background and really do “get” the importance of ensuring each of my clients feels like they are being well-attended to from the moment they submit their inquiry, until hanging up our post-event recap call.

With private clients, I offer the exact same level of service. However, for the most part, private clients require more hand-holding than corporate ones. For starters, when you’re spending your own money rather than the company’s (see above), you really do have more “skin in the game” in every sense. You really, really want to make sure things go well, and as such you will likely have more questions, concerns, etc.

Unlike my repeat corporate clients, private clients are unlikely to have used my services before – meaning, they found out about me somehow (usually online, right here on this very Website), and have never seen one of my shows in-action. As such, there are questions. Many, many questions, which I’m always happy to answer! But there are questions none the less.

Here’s where bringing on a professional such as myself really adds value. Having done this forever – over 15 years – I have the knowledge and experience to address most if not all concerns, to really set folks’ minds at ease. I also have the patience to work with you, to make sure you are completely comfortable throughout the entire process. I also believe strongly that if I command a high fee, which you are paying directly out of your bank account, then I have an obligation to provide you with a high level of client service as well, to really be  there for you from start to finish.

Hiring an inexpensive trivia host for a party won’t get you the same level of attention, believe me.

Managing Expectations

This one is a dovetail off of the previous two. You’re paying a lot, and are expecting a lot. Frankly, you deserve a lot.

That is, to a point.

I want more than anything for my clients to be happy, even those requiring some additional hand-holding (see above). I will ALWAYS go above and beyond to exceed your expectations, to bend over backwards to ensure you and your guests have a blast at your special occasion which you’ve hired me to entertain. However, I need you to also understand that even with all of my experience, all of my expertise, there are still things I can’t do.

No matter how hard I try, I simply stink at mind-reading. I really, really need you to tell me EXACTLY what it is you want, and what you don’t want. I very much want to give you a high-energy, laugh-filled custom experience. But I can’t if you don’t tell me clearly what will make the event a success, or what will tank it.

Please also understand that sometimes, despite the best-laid plans, stuff happens. I can’t control everything, and even though my emcees and I have gotten pretty good over the years at adapting to all kinds of unexpected challenging situations, there’s still going to be moments where things don’t go exactly according to plan – even with a professional trivia company like TrivWorks. If you can be OK with this, then we’ll work smashingly together! If you can’t, well…

Taking My Advice

As mentioned, I’ve been doing this a long time – perhaps longer than anyone else has ever focused exclusively on this niche form of unique private party entertainment. I know you have ideas for what will make your event a success and, whenever feasible, I will always try my best to accommodate.

However, no matter how well-intentioned, not every idea is going to work swimmingly with the type of entertainment I provide. I’ve got the experience to know what generally works, and what doesn’t. Please understand that I have your best interests at heart if ever I push back a bit, and politely suggest we don’t do something you have in mind.

If you can be flexible and understanding, if you’re open to taking my counsel, then we can undoubtedly have a successful event together. However, if you’ve got firm ideas in your mind about how the evening should run, if you’re not going to budge no matter what, then you might be better off with someone else who is willing to do whatever you like if the price is right, consequences be damned (Click here for another post I’ve written about the right and wrong way to produce these functions).


Every trivia party for a private group I’ve hosted has been a hit, and I’d really love to keep that track record going. When you hire professionals versus amateurs, you can and should expect a high-quality product, as well as top-notch service. But to make the event a true success, you need to go into things with a realistic understand of the value you’re getting for the price you’re paying, be it high or low, as well as what you can reasonably expect/not expect from your vendor.

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