Let's make this an easy question to answer.
On average I spend at least 20 hours preparing and entertaining at any function, sometimes I spend as much as 30 hours working towards achieving my client's entertainment requirements, this is a good reason that I charge a reasonable amount for my services.
The planning meetings I have with my clients can take me to plan and conduct the meeting as much as 3 hours per meeting, this is time spent away from my family, this is the time I need to charge for. The meetings are in most cases during the evening and on weekends.
When you make an inquiry from any type of service based business consider the time they spend before your event as well as the time spend at your event.
The best way to find out the best service providers for your event is to meet them before you book.
I hope this helps you make an informed decision for your next celebration.