How many times do we treat our most valued clients or prospects to tepid samosas on a plastic plate balanced precariously on their knees while passing characterless wine along the line in stadium boxes? Why do we do this?
Entertaining clients with hospitality at major sporting events is an age-old practise, but marketers have only begun to scratch the surface of what this marketing discipline can do for them if they do it right.
With a few notable exceptions, hospitality providers are failing to evolve their products quickly enough to keep pace with corporate client expectations. Almost every hospitality package on offer is described as ‘exclusive,’ but a table of ten in a ballroom of 500 is not, by definition, exclusive. Nor is it reasonable to expect that one could be provided with ‘gourmet’ food when the caterers are feeding hundreds, yet ‘gourmet’ seems to be indelibly attached to the word ‘food’ by an invisible hyphen.
Prepare for battle. You may be using diplomacy and charm rather than swords and spears but there are skirmishes that have to be won in order to deliver extraordinary events on-site at major sporting events. Some venues, caterers and major event organisers will make you jump through hoops to provide the level of service or point of difference that will make your event extraordinary.
If what you want to do at their venue does not contravene their licences, pourage or sponsorship deals then their reaction is probably fear of someone coming along who does not conform to their packaged ‘cookie cutter’ view of the world. If the venue responds to your requests saying they are not the norm you know that you are on the right track and you should persist and deliver that extra special point of difference. (My apologies if you are reading this and your job is selling and managing corporate hospitality!) The point here is that often times, high-end corporate entertainment and standard hospitality packages are not great bedfellows, notwithstanding the price. But it can be made to work with a bit of ingenuity and give and take.
Creating extraordinary events is really a balance between lateral thinking and pragmatic execution. Very seldom do extraordinary events come to you – you need to create them.