Corporate hospitality, no matter which side of the coin you sit on (rights holder or brand), can be a fantastic opportunity to generate business, network, learn from like-minded individuals or organisations, and generally have an enjoyable time at an event. Similarly, it can also be a burden, additional and unwarranted stress, and a lost opportunity to grow your business. So, what makes for a great hospitality experience?
After what was another outstanding Australian Open (Tennis), I couldn’t help but sit back and reflect on the amazing hospitality experience I have had, two years in a row, at Rod Laver Arena, and think about what it was that made those experiences so positive. As such, I have outlined a ‘recipe for success’ when hosting corporate hospitality.
1 Cup of Planning
Identify the opportunity to host hospitality early, but more importantly, outline what you are hoping to achieve from the event. Is this hospitality to entertain current clients, to generate leads, to reward your team, or even a mixture?
Identify the type of people you would like invited and always have a ‘bench’ ready to fill those not available to attend.
Communicate as much as possible leading up to the event so that your attendees are turning up as prepared as possible and their journey to get into that hospitality is as easy as possible. Also, where appropriate, let the attendees know who else will be coming.
It is a basic ingredient to start with but, done right, will set the right base for a fantastic experience.
A Pinch of Diversity
Where possible, ensure you invite people and organisations from a diverse set of industries, backgrounds, and experiences. Being able to create an environment of collaboration, learning, and enjoyment at the same time isn’t easy, but by having a variety of personalities and interests in the one room, you are taking a big first step to achieving this.
1 Tablespoon of Exclusivity
Sometimes, simply filling the seats/spots for hospitality can be the most difficult part. On a number of occasions, I have been lucky enough to host a one of a kind event to only find that the timing clashes with other obligations or that the key invitees are no longer able to attend after RSVPing ‘Yes’. What I thought was the hottest ticket in town becomes a last man standing desperate plea for attendees.
One of the ways to avoid this situation is to provide your own little level of exclusivity to the hospitality. Examples may be a behind the scenes tour, player meet and greet, on-court shoot around, a one-off gift provided, or the right to access future hospitality.
Any way you do it, by creating these special one-of-a-kind experiences, or at least the opportunity for that experience, you are more likely to have memorable hospitality while also creating the fear of missing out on future hospitality opportunities you will host.
1 Teaspoon of Like-mindedness
Similarly, to above, you want the attendees to be able to learn from each other or have some really interesting and inciteful discussions while at the same time still have some common points to refer back to.
Do they all have some form of connection with the sport or event they are attending? How are you able to ensure those shine through during the hospitality? This is quite simple if you know how to help nurture the different networks in the room. At worst, they all said “Yes” to your invite, so that’s the first point of similarity/ like-mindedness you can start with.
A dash of Charisma
This ingredient is usually the hardest to find and most difficult to portion control. It can, however, have a huge influence upon the overall hospitality experience. Let’s be honest, first and foremost you want your guests (and yourself) to enjoy the hospitality. Other objectives, such as lead generation, brand positioning etc., are secondary and will most likely be achieved more organically if everyone is enjoying themselves.
You, as a host or as an attendee, can easily add to the experience by bringing some energy and enthusiasm, within reason, to the hospitality. Sometimes, by simply being there to facilitate conversations/networking, and providing that sounding board for those in the room, all the while with a smile on your face, you will have provided enough charisma.
Your turn to cook
Whether you are hosting, or being hosted, there are a number of factors that impact the level of enjoyment or success of hospitality at an event. I have been lucky enough to be in the room with some fantastic people, at some really great events, and have the benefit of hindsight to see why the experience in Melbourne in the second week of January is such a positive one.
I’m sure that with the mixture of the above ingredients, you can replicate my experiences at your hospitality events.
Sam Irvine // GM of Product
Sam is passionate about helping organisations maximize their sponsorship programs and has worked with brands and rights holders at all levels. Sam is always looking for ways to improve himself and loves working with people who give as much as they take.
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