We asked industry experts from a venue and a major financial institution: If you could give three pieces of advice to a company starting to entertain clients with tickets and suites, what would they be?
VP Premium Partnerships Barclays Center
Mike Lahaie is responsible for all premium seats and suites at the Barclays Center. Mike has spent more than a decade in live events including stints with the New York Yankees and Charlotte Bobcats.
Have a plan
Too often, I see companies just act on a vague notion that everyone loves going to events. While that may be mostly true, you need a better-articulated plan if you’re going to make client entertainment a real part of your marketing strategy and make it work for you like it does so many successful companies.
If it’s your first time getting into client entertainment, work with your partner at the event and have a plan. Who do you want to take? Why? What is the ultimate goal for the experience?
If you plan ahead, you will have success at live events with the right guests.
Communicate all the time
It’s easy for companies to think that once they invest in suites and tickets, their work is done but that is a common mistake.
The companies we see succeeding are communicating constantly. Their staff knows what they have and for what reason. They make sure the top producers know about upcoming events and how they can be used.
Get creative about reminding people in your company these assets exist and should be used. Get on your company intranet. Get it in the newsletter. The more creative you are in communicating the value of your entertainment assets, the greater your chances of realizing significant return on them.
Sending out an occasional email isn’t enough in today’s working environment. Live events are highly sought after and a reminder is usually well-received.
Get real about how much work it will take
Make no mistake: client entertainment is a significant investment. Who is going to go, why, and when? Staying on top of ticket inventory, making sure the right people are being invited to events, handling the little issues that inevitably come up when you’re dealing with people going to events—all of this takes time and energy.
Make sure you have the resources needed before investing in live events as there is work involved. Accept it. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when it happens.
COO Global Marketing Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.
As COO of Broadridge, Jeff oversees a vast client entertainment budget including programs with the New York Yankees, New York Mets, New York Rangers, and New York Knicks, amongst others.
Companies can get dazzled when they are first presented with the universe of client entertainment options. As tempting—and exciting–as it can be to get a suite at the Super Bowl, is that what your clients really want?
Start slowly. Take the time to study your clients and find out what kind of events they are most interested in attending. And if you aren’t sure? Ask them. If you include your clients in your decision of what kinds of events to invest in, they will be more likely to attend them with you later.
It’s going to take resources
Just to echo Mike’s point a bit, don’t kid yourself: starting client entertainment takes real work. Don’t think you can hand off everything to an admin and expect things to work. To make client entertainment work, you need to allocate significant resources to it. That’s one more reason to start slowly—so you can ramp-up resources as you go.
Get executive buy-in
Communicating often with your team about your entertainment assets is important. So is getting senior management behind it. That’s particularly true if you are driving business process change around your entertainment assets. People don’t like change, and they can become embedded in the old ways of doing things. The energy that comes from executive buy-in helps overcome that resistance to change and help you gain acceptance and excitement about your programs.