How to Make Corporate Hospitality Work for You

19 October 2015

Did you know that corporate hospitality is now recognised as one of the most powerful tools for developing long-term business relationships?

One of the main reasons for this is the increase in client retention and building personal relationships with your customers. Plus let’s not forget that ultimately, for every £1,000 you spend on an individual client you are likely to see well over half of that back, in an increase to what they are currently spending with you. Add to this competitors, even those offering cheaper rates, can never hope to steal your market share because you have invested time and money on your relationships with clients and established their loyalty to your brand. The best way to deepen a relationship with an existing customer or start to bond with a potential new customer is to take them out of the usual business environment, with its sometimes formal overtones and put them in a social setting.  Here, by contrast, you can relate to each other much more readily as human beings and customers can talk about their needs in a low-threat environment. When planning an event, it is essential to keep the following five key issues in mind:

Event planning

It is essential to position the event within your broader marketing strategy. Key to the success of an event is to ensure that the right audience can attend and requires targeting the right people early on.

Setting measurable objectives

Set realistic outcomes; it is unlikely for example that at a social gathering an agreement to purchase from is agreed and should not be set as a goal. However, arranging appointments, securing follow-up calls, or gaining introductions where access is difficult are achievable and essential if real value is to be gained.

Managing interactions

At the event itself, it is critical to assign the right people and in each case clearly define responsibilities and expectations. This means ensuring the right people are on hand, even though the event may appear to be primarily social – or even casual – it is a shop window to your business.

Persuasion skills

The key to success therefore centres on influencing rather than selling. Remember this is a social event, you can’t ‘influence’ all the time, you have got to have some fun too!

Working the room

People are so concerned about causing offence by butting into a conversation or leaving abruptly, that they don’t even try. As a result, the hosts tend to cluster with colleagues, as they feel uncomfortable starting conversations with clients or prospects, defeating the whole point of hosting the event in the first place.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.