The Pliant Client: How To Properly Host A Client Event

Everyone loves tickets to the “big event.” Think Super Bowl weekends, Broadway shows, the Circus, NASCAR, etc. It’s fun, exciting and a great milieu in which to build and enhance business relationships.

Unfortunately, some well-intentioned Hosts don’t think things through and end up alienating, rather than astounding, their guests.

I have been to dozens and dozens of these events and have noted what impressed and what annoyed the other invitees.

Hope that these tips help:

  • The little things matter: splurging for a big ticket but not taking care of incidental matters like transportation & parking can annoy your guests.
  • Don’t just give them a seat: if you want to really do it right, have a gift bag waiting for them and take care of their food & drink during the spectacle.
  • Family Affairs: don’t limit the guest-list to the big shots. Invite their families and you will be on the right path to winning them over (just ask any Executive parent that has heard their kid say “Mommy, that was soooooo much fun”).
  • Have name badges available so that your other clients can identify and talk to each other.
  • Never put a Host employee in better seats than a client. Never.
  • Make sure that all invitees clearly understand start times, locations and agenda…and remind them just before the event.
  • If you are going to provide food (e.g. in a corporate tent or Executive Suite) make sure that most dietary preferences are covered and that the food is consistent with the message that you are trying to convey. Also, make sure that you never run out of food. Nothing screams “cheapskate” like an empty sterno tray.
  • Every item served should reflect a consistent message. For example, don’t serve lobster and lamb chops and then cheap out on the wine.
  • The food should also mirror the event: items should be on the same level (hot dogs and soda are a fine match for a ball game but not for the Opera).
  • Have representatives in user-friendly locations to provide directions and assistance to your attendees.
  • Always provide a memento or “souvenir” that reflects their attendance and will remind them of you and your company (e.g., binoculars with the corporate logo).

  • Today’s Tip: The rule is simple. If you are going to spend the time. effort and money to host a client event—do it right. Make it fun, festive and with lots of good quality food and drink. Also spend lots of time thinking about every aspect of your guest’s experience (from initial arrival to final departure). It will make all the difference.

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