Expanding Your Travel Distance

Posted by Mary Ellen Skawinski on September 20, 2013

He’s performed in over 40 states. He’s driven from the eastern coast of Maine to L.A., having booked a string of gigs along the way. He can reasonably price quote a client 600 miles away because, well, he knows how to procure bookings en route to make the trip a profitable one. Have no illusions, renowned magician Keith West knows just what it takes to find great success across the entire U.S.

“I was born and raised in Iowa, but staying here was a strategic move,” Keith explained to me in our recent interview. “I’m less than a 24-hour drive from anywhere in the [continental] United States.” As an entertainer on the go, the convenience of a centrally located home base is something of a necessity: “I’d say about 40% of the leads I receive are beyond a 500-mile radius. I’m traveling for gigs all the time.” His unlimited travel distance as a Gold Member has made it possible then for him to receive nearly half of the leads he does, and Keith wouldn’t have it any other way. “If you take the step and you’re going to become full time, you don’t have a choice. You have to do multi-state runs or you’re not going to make a living.”

That’s not to say that taking on gigs far and wide is an easy feat. Keith explained the types of costs that come with the territory of long-distance travel. Shipping, gas, hotels, airfare, a vehicle that requires constant upkeep - it all adds up. And passing that financial burden on to the client isn’t the answer: “If you’re charging them that much, they aren’t going to book you.” What’s the solution then to balancing the cost of travel with your actual income from a remote gig? “Learn how to route your gigs,” Keith replied. By plotting out additional gigs to work either on his way to, or coming back from, the farthest one, Keith finds it much easier to financially justify traveling hundreds of miles for a show.

In addition to strategically routing his gigs, Keith advises any member who manages a wide travel distance by car or truck to be vigilant when it comes to vehicle maintenance. “Your tires and oil… change them often!” This is critical, he stated, for those who travel with a lot equipment, props, instruments, and the like. “And if you’re looking to purchase a trailer, always get one size bigger than you think you’ll need. The more wheels on your truck or trailer, the better it will drive.” Keith should know, he now maintains over one million dollars’ worth of tricks and props, and transports any number of them in a 36-foot trailer from state to state.

Take it from a member who travels an average of 40,000 miles a year – the wider your travel distance, the more leads you’ll receive. With leads coming in from all directions, Keith’s business is booming and his industry status is spreading. If you take the time to strategize, your miles can translate into dollars.

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