Read This BEFORE Booking with Poptop

You're searching for entertainment for your private party and you come across a website such as Poptop that promises extraordinary services and expert picks. But is it all it's cracked up to be? In this article, I'll lay bare the secrets from the suppliers side and tell you what you need to know, before you book through a website like Poptop.

No time? Here's the skinny...

If you book through Poptop you'll end up paying more, as they charge you a client service fee which covers basic booking protection that any professional act will be including anyway. Worse, the supplier that you book gets shorted by having to pay fees between 12 - 20%, so you get less for your money. That's why most professional acts don't use booking websites. Booking direct (or with an established entertainment agent) is therefore not only better value, but simpler too.


Poptop is an Entertainment Booking Platform. What that means is they list thousands of acts on their website and allow you to browse through the acts, and instantly get a quote from one or several acts, quickly and easily. You can even put in your event date and immediately see if your preferred act is available.

Sounds good, right?

Well not quite and that's what we're going to look at here.

What is the Price Difference vs Going Direct?

Booking with poptop will cost you more than booking direct.

That's a fact, and I'll detail everything including screenshots and sources below.

Here is the calculation, based on a close up magician, charging £450 for two hours of magic.

That's the sort of price I suggested in a recent article: How much does a close up magician cost.

However, it's worth stating that the principle here will apply across the board, for musicians, bands, DJs, dance acts, photo booths, street food, and mobile bar hire.

Close up Magician Example.

Base Price: £450

10% Client Service Fee: + £45


However, the supplier is also charged 12% so they only receive:

Base price: £450

12% Supplier Fee: -£54


But there's more, because in order for the supplier to actually compete against the other suppliers, in most cases (and especially in the magic industry, which I know best), they would have to take out a membership. Yes, you can create an account for free, but in reality you won't get many, if any, bookings that way.

A membership at it's cheapest level, adds an additional £360 a year to the suppliers cost, so presuming they get approximately one booking a month, via poptop, a more accurate figure is:

Membership Fee / 12: -£30



In short, if you book through poptop you'll be paying £495 for something that could be worth as little as £396. If you book direct, you get every penny of the value you pay for. Here's an image that lays that out pretty clearly, I think.

why book with poptop vs booking direct

For comparison, let's try using the same idea for a mobile bar, costing £1000.

Mobile Bar Example.

Base Price: £1000

Client Service Fee (maximum is £49): + £49


However, the supplier is also charged 12% so they only receive:

Base price: £1000

12% Supplier Fee (no maximum): -£120

Membership Fee / 12: -£30



In short, if you book through poptop you'll be getting £850 worth of drinks service, but paying £1049.

So at this point, I want to point out that I am aware that poptop is a business that needs to make money, but it seems unfair to me that they charge fees to both parties.

They have over the last few years especially started squeezing the suppliers even more. You can read more about that below. I used to be a supplier with poptop, but left when the fees became too high.

I also realise that some clients may want to pay a little more for the convenience of finding an act quickly and easily. It's just a shame, I think, that this difference in pricing is not made more clear. Especially when you consider how easy it is to book an act direct.

Finally, in this section, it's worth saying a little about the traditional agency model. This is where an agent / manager takes on a select few acts and gets to know them really well. When you book through one of these companies, they will be able to recommend the act because they have personally seen them perform. They charge a fee for sourcing the act, but this is only after the booking is confirmed. There is nothing upfront for the act to pay. And, of course, the benefit to the act is that the agent / manager is working for them.


poptop screenshot - service fees
poptop screenshot - supplier fees
poptop screenshot - membership fees

Prices and fees correct at time of publication.

Are the acts on Poptop any good?

It looks like Poptop want you to think that all of their acts are recommended by them. They liberally use terms such as "curated" and "hand-picked" and as shown in the below screenshot they say, "We inspire party-planners with extraordinary services and experiences from some of the UK’s best events suppliers."

poptop screenshot - about

However, hidden away in their FAQS they go on to state,

"Poptop does not endorse, sanction or verify those listed on Poptop."

poptop screenshot - background checks

That seems like a bit of a mismatch to me.

Now, to be clear, I'm not saying that there are not some fantastic suppliers on Poptop. I've just taken a glance through the page for magicians (the industry I've been in for twenty years) and there are a handful of top names in there.

But there are also beginners and hobbyist magicians.

The issue is it's difficult to separate out the wheat from the chaff, and as Poptop make their money from the fees you and the suppliers pay, it doesn't seem as if they care who gets the work, as long as they get their cut from the booking. And that brings me on to my next point.

What about Poptop Booking Protection?

Below you will see the Poptop Booking Protection, which is I believe what the Client Service Fee is for.

poptop screenshot - client booking protection

The problem is that you don't get anything here, that you don't also get when you book a quality act direct.

Let's look at each of the points in turn.

1. Full Refund If Your Supplier Cancels - If for some reason your supplier has to cancel, your full deposit refund is guaranteed by Poptop.

2. Replacement Suppliers - Our dedicated Support Team will be in touch to offer hands-on assistance in finding you the best replacement supplier in time for your event. We will also cover 10% of the price of your new replacement booking made through us.

If you book a professional act or service, they will give you a contract. For example, when you book with me, my contract secures your date in my calendar.

That means I will not just cancel. In twenty years, there has only been one show I was not able to attend, (due to covid) and I immediately found a replacement, from my extensive connections within the entertainment industry. Magicians know other magicians they can recommend, musicians know other musicians they've played with before. Poptop will just send you whoever is available. These two points are really worthless, in my opinion.

You can read more about my contingency plans here: How to Hire a Magician FAQS - What if you can't make it?

3. Dedicated Event Support Team - Poptop have a dedicated Support Team on hand to help you throughout your booking journey, from start to finish, so you can have peace of mind and no worries. If there's anything you need from us at any time during your booking, simply get in touch via our phone lines on 02080640593 or by email to

Whether you are a client of mine or not, send me an email to or call me on 07792 129 828. I'm not a support team, I'm a industry expert with 20 years experience. This is, in my opinion, a rather strange thing to advertise as a benefit. Why would you want to speak with the platform, and not the actual person who's going to be at your event?

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch today for an accurate quote or more information.

4. Trusted Suppliers - We develop long-term relationships with our suppliers, working closely with them to ensure the highest quality of service is provided for your event. We only showcase the best of the best. Suppliers rated with a 'Super Supplier' badge are those who've been recognised and fully vetted by Poptop for providing extraordinary services so you can be confident that you and your guests will have an incredible party experience.

See above: "Poptop does not endorse, sanction or verify those listed on Poptop."

I would love to hear how poptop vet their 'Super Suppliers' - do they go and see them live? What makes them qualified to judge the quality? They haven't got back to me yet, so I'll presume as I've been told by current poptop suppliers that a Super Supplier is simple someone who has had a lot of work passed through the pPoptop system.

Edit: I found it. It's nothing to do with how many bookings you have, but rather how great you are at the Poptop system admin, including responding quickly (a must for any professional anyway), cancelling less than 85% of the time (I say cancelling less than 99% of the time is even better) and having your calendar synced to their system (yes, really!)


5. Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee - If you feel the service you had isn't as advertised on Poptop, you can raise a dispute to report the issue and claim a refund. You have 3 days following your event date to raise this with our Support Team.

OK, maybe this has a small benefit to you, if you are unsure about the act that you are booking. I know that some of my colleagues offer a money back guarantee. I don't and honestly, no-one has ever asked about it.

I recently organised a wedding, and you know what, I made sure that the suppliers I booked were people I trusted. I spoke to them on the phone, I video called them, and everything was great. That's something that I recommend more than a money back guarantee, but it seems it's a point where poptop and I disagree.

"You must not provide personal details, contact information or your website links to the client until a booking has been made. Doing so can result in a ban or termination of your account."


6. Secure Payments - Your payments are 100% secure when you book online with Poptop. When you make a booking on Poptop, your card isn't charged until the supplier has confirmed your booking as part of our two-step verification process.

Another non-issue if you are booking a professional anyway. I take secure payments through Stripe, and you can use your debit or credit card.

How to Book an Act Directly? (a much simpler alternative)

Booking an act directly is a much simpler option that going through poptop. Plus as mentioned in this article, it is also many times better value.

Here's how to do it.


First, open up your favourite search engine eg. Google, and type in close up magician, or wedding magician, or party magician (this last one might lead you to some websites for children's entertainers, instead!)

Alternatively, you are on the website of a fantastic close up magician right now. I cover most of the UK, but even if your event is outside of my usual working area, I can always recommend someone to you.

That brings me on to another good point. If someone you know has hired or seen a magician before, then a personal recommendation is a fantastic way to know what you are getting.


Find their contact page or details and send them a message, or give them a call. It's as easy as that.

Tell them a bit about your event and they will get back to you directly, which is much better than going through a third party. You can ask any questions you like, or take their advice on what would work best for your event.

As part of my How to Hire a Magician FAQs I recommend speaking to your magician / other suppliers on the phone before booking. That's something poptop try to clamp down on, possibly because they are worried they will lose their commission.


If you like what they do, think they will fit in well with your event and like the price, (remember, booking direct will always be the best value), then go ahead and confirm the booking.

All you have to do now is pay the deposit - any good quality professional magician will have a secure payment system.


And then finally, sit back and relax until your event comes around!

Want to read more? I wrote a guide about how to hire a magician for a Christmas party, which is also relevant to other events too.

Do I recommend Poptop for suppliers?

OK, hands up. I used to be an act signed up with poptop around 2017. In fact, I performed at over 60 events that were booked through the platform.

So why did I leave. It's simple. They ratcheted up the fees to a level unsustainable for my business. Take a look at the comparison of fees, then and now.

2017 Fees


On a £450 even you would pay £31.50

2022 Fees

NOW - 12% + £360 UPFRONT

On a £450 event, you pay £84

based on purchasing a membership and getting 12 bookings per year - you'll pay more if you get less bookings, and less if you get more bookings or have a free account.

That's not to say that it won't work for your business. If it works for you then that's great. In fact, I just recorded a podcast about where to take advice from, and one of the things I say in it is please ignore me, if my advice doesn't work for you.

So by all means take a trial, but from my experience and from talking to other performers in the industry, I believe it is a very expensive form of marketing. I would much rather put my marketing budget into my own website than someone else's. I would even print up flyers and take them around the street, before I signed up to poptop.

And don't forget to work out the numbers. Remember, turnover is vanity, profit is sanity. A £450 event isn't worth that, if it costs £80 + in fees, and £30 + in petrol, (for example). Take a look at the calculations above and see for yourself how much you would be paying if you were to get any bookings.

And if you need more advice on running a magic business or improving your magic take a listen to some of the podcast episodes I release every week. You can find them all here.

It seems to me poptop are trying to position themselves as a sort of entertainment agent, yet without the model that an entet

And finally, my advice for Poptop.

It seems to me poptop are trying to position themselves as a sort of entertainment agent, yet without the model that established entertainment agents use. Namely, no upfront payments, and a personal vetting of acts. Poptop don't do this!

My advice to them would be to think of their suppliers first. Your suppliers are the lifeblood of your business. They are the product you are trying to sell. Without them, you might trick newer, less established suppliers into taking out a membership but you'll end up creating more headaches for your clients and for yourself.

Continuously adding more fees, and more terms and conditions will drive away quality suppliers.

And so with all that in mind, what would I recommend to poptop? (and what might tempt me back?) Well, this would be a good start...

  • No upfront fees.
  • A 7 - 10% fee for events booking in.
  • No additional client fees.
  • The trust to speak to clients on the phone before the booking.

As mentioned, I think they do this because they believe suppliers will try to subvert the fee by asking the client to pay outside of poptop, but if everything else in place, why would they?

It's also worth noting that the rankings in the system could be linked to how much work they have done within the system, thereby providing an incentive to pay the commission, rather than pocket it.

It's a slightly different set up, but that's how it works as part of my children's entertainment business. I pass on work to a select few performers who I have a good relationship with. The performer talks to the client direct and pays me a small commission (it's actually usually less than 10%). And everything is done on trust. I trust them to do a good job, and pay fairly, and if they continue to do so, I continue to pass them the work.

Looking to hire a magician?

Get in touch today for an accurate quote or more information.

Disclosure: Some of the links on the blog part of this site are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This helps support the site at no extra cost to you.



It's easy to get in touch with me, either:

email ↓

call ↓

07792 129 828

or fill in an enquiry form.


During a short phone or video call, we'll talk about your event and your initial ideas. Don't worry, if you're not sure. I've helped to plan many events so I can advise on the best use of magic and other events entertainment.


Once all the details are agreed, I'll send you a booking confirmation and ask you to make the first payment which confirms your date in my calendar. Then it's time to start looking forward to your big event.


I'll check in with you in the week before your event, and on the day of the event. All you need to do now is enjoy the magic, mind reading and conversational comedy.