Is Client Entertainment Still Taboo Post Recession?
During the recession it seemed people couldn’t talk about spending money on client entertainment events; but that’s all over now. Everyone from banks to production companies have events to woo their clients, from advertisers to VIP employees.
Banned No More
It’s true. During the recession we saw a serious ban from corporate dollars slipping into the entertainment economy as well as sponsorships and even philanthropic initiatives. However, in the last few years, the curb on client entertainment has slipped to the wayside as corporations foot the bill for colleagues, clients and associates to dine, drink and dance into the wee hours.
From advertisers to financial advisors, everyone is looking to deepen their relationships and relate to clients or VIP employees on a different level. Some seek out a special restaurant that offers a unique entree or a personable wait staff, while others are booking spa days. Still, the safe entertainment bet could be concert tickets for a music lover, a sports game, or wine tasting.
The time honored tradition of lunch meetings is always in favor, but it’s best to gauge price point and scale appropriately. Choose a restaurant that both you and the client feel is a comfortable place. Also, consider accessibility; is it worth your time and your client’s time to wait 30 minutes for a table at the newest hot spot? Or is your time better spent at the quiet Italian place across the street?
It’s okay to get creative. Try visiting a special art exhibit or gallery opening. It’s low cost but provides great time to get to know each other while supporting local arts. Another idea would be a fundraising event for cancer research. It’s a great way to support important services in your community as well as show another side of yourself to your clients.
Just a Bit Limited on Some Fronts
Across the pond, in the banking hub of London, what once was okay is now becoming off-limits. Certain banking institutions are clamping down on bottle service and buying shots of alcohol for clients. Corporations simply don’t want the liability of an inebriated employee, concerned they are at high risk for making poor decisions.
Some corporations have set curfews. Junior staff must call it a night by 10:00 p.m., while senior staff is allowed out until midnight. For a long time, client entertainment in strip clubs has been outlawed, considered intolerable to the long arm of the client entertainment law.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of fabulous ways to entertain clients. Traversing into the social realm together is a wonderful way to get to know each other and to strengthen your working relationship. From a trapeze lesson to a full mud body wrap, the sky is pretty much the limit. So, as long as you don't take things too far, doing business can be fun again.