There is no better way of building and cementing long-term business relationships with clients, key staff, and partners than taking them to a top corporate hospitality sporting event. Sharing the thrills and spills of an exciting match, tournament or race with your clients can be one of the real benefits of being in business.
Getting the best value for money from corporate hospitality
Getting value for money out of corporate hospitality is not as simple as it may seem – there are a number of factors to take into account, all of which should have some bearing on your decision making.
The starting point (when considering which event to invite your clients to) should be your clients’ interests, so it is important to glean bits of information from them regarding their sporting preferences. This is relatively easy to do; most people are more than happy to share their sporting passions if asked, and once you discover something useful about your clients it is worth making notes for future reference.
Clients are always impressed when you take a personal interest, as it shows that you value them as individuals and that you pay attention to detail. Once you have established some interests, there are a number of other key considerations:
What is it that you are trying to achieve?
It might be that you are treating a long-term client that you know very well already, or perhaps you are ‘courting’ a potential new client, or even looking to develop a new business partnership with another company in your sector. Whatever your reasoning, the style of event that you choose is crucial.
If you are looking to spend as much quality time with a client or partner as possible, in order to have time to get to know them and/or discuss business, then all day events might be a better choice; for example a day at a cricket Test match, Golf Hospitality, or Cheltenham Races Hospitality, where the action is drawn out
If you want a well-established client to enjoy an out and out jolly then taking them to a shorter, more concentrated style of event they enjoy, such as a football match or a sporting dinner might be a better option. Try to make the structure of the day or evening best suited to the goals you are trying to achieve.
What is your budget for corporate hospitality?
Ideally your corporate hospitality budget should be relative to the value or potential value of your clients. Having a table at a sporting dinner event is a relatively cost-effective form of sports hospitality, where you are able to treat a number of clients to a ‘group social’ – this often works best with long-term lower value clients.
For those who are major contributors to the economic success of your business, it is likely that a more targeted personal approach will achieve the best results and most goodwill. As with most business decisions, you need to look at the potential costs/benefits of different options, and then figure out what your budget is based on this assessment.
Who should you invite when entertaining a group?
In an ideal world, all the members of your group would be passionate about the sporting event you have lined up for them, but this is not always the case. Often a passing interest in a particular sport is enough, particularly when treating a group of clients, as it is the social aspect that is also appealing.
However, it is always worth putting some thought into the potential ‘group dynamics’ – be careful when considering who to invite. For example, it may not be ideal to invite two clients who are major competitors in the same sector, or people that you know have clashed in the past.
Although this is certainly not necessarily the case, and might only influence your decisions occasionally, it is always worth putting serious thought into the make-up of the group you are creating, as they are going to be spending a considerable amount of time in each other’s company.
Are there any other costs to factor in that aren’t covered in the hospitality package?
It is easy to forget that corporate hospitality sometimes necessitates other costs that should be considered.
Most good hospitality companies will provide a detailed breakdown of everything that is included in the price, so there are no nasty surprises. For example, whilst many corporate events will include a complimentary bar within the price, others will require you to leave a card and pay for drinks at the close, which can add hundreds of pounds in costs – make sure you thoroughly check out what a package includes.
Furthermore, you might need to transport your guests or pay for their accommodation. Often, guests will be happy to make their own arrangements, but it is good form to offer to pay for transport or accommodation, particularly with high-value clients where the event is not local.
These extra costs are certainly worth considering when choosing corporate events; your geographical location will sometimes play a major role in your choice.
Is the corporate hospitality company you have chosen a reputable and experienced one?
Even after considering all of the above, there is still one crucial factor – choosing the company to provide you with your hospitality package or product. There is nothing worse than all your planning and effort to go to waste because you have been let down by your supplier.
It is very wise to do some research about the company before you commit to spending money. Check their website and assess the range of their products on offer – a wide range generally indicates that they are well connected.
Read their testimonials page, as well as 3rd party reviews from Google Map listings or the likes of TrustPilot, to see what sort of feedback people have left, and make sure that there is other evidence of the good quality of their services such as photo galleries, video footage of events or celebrity endorsements, particularly from renowned sports people.
It is always a good sign if they have a history of delivering their own quality bespoke events, as well as selling packages at sporting occasions as a third party.
If the corporate hospitality company are organising their own events and working with major household names in the sporting world then it is highly likely that they are well-respected and trusted in the industry.
If targeted and costed diligently, corporate sports hospitality can be a hugely effective method of developing positive business relationships whether with clients, key staff, or prospective business partners. Achieving real value-for-money will require you to put plenty of thought into your plans, but this effort will pay dividends in the long term.
In recent years it has become increasingly important to justify spending in all areas, and some businesses make cutting the hospitality budget a first priority.
However, businesses that get it right have a genuine advantage over those that either don’t bother, or get it wrong, as in the end one thing hasn’t changed: good business is built on relationships between people.