The Continuing Value of Corporate Hospitality at Events

24 June 2014

As the days get longer, warmer and drier, events managers start to shift their focus to the upcoming summer sports season. This can be distinguished from winter events by the size of the hats and the amount of fruit in the drinks. Out go lounge suits, the dinners and the warm overcoats and in come the dresses, the Pimms and the fascinators. You might think that the days of boozy events smoozing clients are long gone but with blue riband events like the World Cup being so far away in Brazil this year, this gives a great opportunity for companies to build new relationships and cement existing friendships with clients at bespoke events.

Since the recession there is no doubt that the scale of hospitality has been reigned in but that doesn’t mean that hospitality has gone altogether. It is now much more likely to take the form of a relaxed drinks party than a sit down three course meal. For the World Cup, we have noticed a number of enquiries coming in from companies looking for an ex-England player to come along to their event, watch the game, offer some punditry and mix and mingle with the guests.

For the high end events, the high end brands will still be front and centre. For example you can’t imagine Royal Ascot without Pimms or Wimbledon without Lanson Champagne - and Strawberries of course. Lots of companies that sponsor these types of event use their sponsorship to offer ‘money can’t buy’ experiences to their clients. It is now harder for execs to justify being out of the office for large chunks of time so corporate hospitality has to offer more than just an afternoon getting sloshed on someone else’s bar tab. Xerox have partnered with the WTA and have been enhancing their sponsorship by offering their clients the chance to meet some of the players or be coached by a tennis professional.

Being invited to these sorts of events reinforces in a clients mind that their custom is valuable and that they are worth investing money in. As anyone who works in sales (or has ever bought anything) knows, people are much more likely to buy something from someone they like. If as a corporate you can build a relationship with your clients by doing this sort of thing it is much more likely to work in your favour than against you.

Corporate hospitality doesn’t just have to be restricted to clients. A company can do some serious morale boosting with a well timed summer party. It could be themed around the world cup or a race night to coincide with Ascot or what about for the more active companies a rowing challenge based on the Henley Regatta…..

One of the major sticking points when it comes to corporate hospitality especially for the person leading the project is justifying the return on the investment. In most cases it can be hard to measure in the short term. This can be a tricky area to navigate particularly if you are having to get this cleared with the finance department, who may not be as on board with the benefits of entertaining as the events department.

Here’s to a great summer of sporting endeavours and successful corporate hosting. Do get involved and give us examples of the best – and worst – corporate hospitality you’ve hosted or been invited too.

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