Ways To Entertain Clients: Guide & Ideas
Entertaining business clients has made (or broken) countless deals throughout the years. These interactions provide ample opportunity for the development of healthy client-merchant relations, and for potential clients to get a good idea of the caliber of people they’re looking at working with.
Unfortunately, missteps during these interactions (or worse yet, a botched attempt at entertaining a client) can set the wrong tone for the relationship, or turn off a client (potential or current) completely.
To help you avoid that problem, we put together this guide detailing some options available when considering how to entertain clients. We also threw in some fun ways to entertain clients to help give you some ideas.
The Cardinal Rule: Know Your Audience
There’s an old Latin proverb that says “de gustibus non est disputandum.” The phrase, roughly translated, means “there’s no accounting for taste,” and it’s a sentiment that’s been around for a very long time. Not everyone likes the same things and trying to force a person to enjoy something they don’t find preferable is akin to trying to force a square peg through a round hole.
When deciding how to entertain clients, you need to keep your client’s interests in mind. It may seem common sense to pick events, cuisine, or activities that they’ve expressed interest in or passion for, but it seems not everyone has received the memo.
Many businesses spoil their client-merchant relations by choosing activities that they themselves are interested in, rather than accounting for the client’s desires. This can be a catastrophic mistake, and demonstrating this level of oblivious or inconsiderate behavior can ruin business relationships.
Don’t pick activities that your client isn’t going to like. Pick things specifically that you know they will enjoy. This, of course, requires that you know what the client will enjoy, which requires some work on your part to discuss their interests. In other words, your conversations can’t be all about business, or all about you.
Similarly, don’t take your client to eat somewhere that doesn’t accommodate them if they have special dietary considerations. Again, this requires asking a few questions and being considerate of needs they may have. This will go a long way to building positive relations if you do it right and will be ruinous if you do it wrong.
In all your preparations, keep the client in mind—it’s about them after all, not you.
Client Entertainment Ideas For the Athletically Inclined
Athletic events have been a mainstay of client entertainment. That’s because until perhaps very recently they’ve had the widest appeal. To this day, they’ve been a relatively safe bet, even in cases where businesses may not have been familiar with their client’s interests.
It’s not foolproof, though. Not everyone enjoys the same sports, and not everyone enjoys sports the same way. That’s why it’s important to fall back on the cardinal rule and ask a few questions before making any plans. Find out what sports they enjoy, and whether they like to spectate or participate, and then make your arrangements accordingly.
Now for some ideas. The old standby has always been local sporting events. Taking clients to “the big game” has almost become routine, but depending on your client it may still have a positive impact. Just be sure you’re attending the sporting event they would care for.
Not everyone is a spectator, though, and some would like to be more hands-on with their athletic interests. In this case, consider taking your client somewhere they can participate, such as a golf course, tennis or basketball court, or even a bowling alley. Just be sure it’s a sport that can facilitate a small number of people, as it may be one on one.
Some clients may enjoy some less traditional activities, so don’t be afraid to capitalize on interests such as indoor rock climbing or horseback riding.
Lastly, if you’re looking to give them some extra special treatment (and budget isn’t much of a concern), arrange for a private tour of a local stadium, team training grounds, or other notable sport-centric locales.
Client Entertainment Ideas For the Outdoorsman/Outdoorswoman
Similar to the athletically inclined, some people like to get out into nature. These individuals tend to be more participatory in their interests, so don’t be afraid to take them out to something they will be doing, rather than watching. Here are a few ideas:
• Fishing excursions
• Boating trips (whether on a yacht or a smaller charter boat)
• Wildlife sightseeing tour
• Trips to a gun range
• Skiing at a resort
Lastly, if they like seeing the sites but are more inclined to sit than to stand or walk, consider a helicopter or small engine plane sightseeing flight. These flights have the added benefit of feeling like special treatment since they tend to be private affairs.
Client Entertainment Ideas For the Cultured Client
Physical activity isn’t everyone’s preferred form of entertainment, and many clients may instead like to experience the culture of your city. For them, consider taking them to a performance they will remember. Shows put on by dance troupes, theater companies, or musicians (either an orchestra/symphony or a band, just be sure you know their music genre preference) are all good bets.
You can also attend a comedy performance, one put on either by a sketch comedy group, an improv group, or by a stand-up comedian. If they really enjoy a good laugh, they’ll likely appreciate it.
If performances aren’t their thing, try visiting a museum or art gallery. These are perfect for those who want cultural exposure without all the noise, and as an added bonus, visits to these locales provide ample opportunity for the two of you to talk.
Lastly, if you’re looking for special treatment, try booking some of the following:
• Book a private viewing of a museum/gallery,
• A private tour of a filming or animation studio
• A private performance
• Or a private tour of a business that produces a unique product, such as hand-carved furniture, or hand made candies
Client Entertainment Ideas For the Client That Likes to Have a Little Fun
Sometimes, to paraphrase the song, clients just want to have fun. If they’re open to it, they may enjoy these more unusual activities, and will likely remember the experience for a long time as a result. Here are a few ideas:
• VR experiences
• Escape rooms
• Theme or thrill parks
• Pottery, painting, or other artistic classes
In these activities, a fun, jovial attitude is a must, and being able to laugh with your client will go a long way. If these are the kinds of things they’re into, then loosen up and just prepare yourself for a good time. The two of you will likely then be acting like old friends in short order.
Client Entertainment Ideas For the Foodie
The other old standby of business meetings, going to a restaurant isn’t as straightforward as it seems on the surface. There’s a lot of things to consider, and not everyone likes the same kinds of food. Depending on their tastes, they might enjoy a high-end, critically acclaimed restaurant, an eclectic and well-known local dive, or any location with a unique approach to food. Just be sure you do a little digging before you make the reservation.
Don’t Forget to Get Down to Business
Entertaining clients, ideally, will be an experience you both remember positively. Eventually, though, you’ll need to get down to business and discuss what you both actually showed up for. When that time comes, you’ll need a meeting room that can facilitate that discussion. And that’s where we come in.
Here at Davinci, we pride ourselves on offering meeting rooms that answer the needs of our clients by offering them space, presentation equipment, and anything else they might need to run a successful meeting. So if you need a place to get to work, give us a call, and we’ll save a room for you.