It’s felt like a “month of Sundays” since I’ve been able to meet with some of my top customers. I not only feel anxious about the right time to invite them out, but I also recognize a tectonic shift has occurred with in-person client entertainment.
As we inch closer to re-opening sports and entertainment venues, we luxury suite holders need to prepare our minds to scrap the old way of doing things.
We used to hand-deliver tickets.
We used to meet clients at the bar across the street.
A lot of little things were done without even thinking.
Now, we’ve gotta re-launch our in-person client entertainment the right way.
Before we talk about safety protocols, let’s not overlook the most basic step: Purpose. You invested in client entertainment for a specific purpose(s). You need to make sure that purpose still resonates with all your stakeholders.
Are execs on board?
How confident is sales to deliver the same target customers?
Do your customers prefer a different way of entertaining than in the past?
are critical to begin.
As a suite-holder myself, I know the investment is large and ROI is real. But taking the proper steps isn’t obvious to all.
Take the recent example of Quibi, a media/entertainment platform built to capture the 18-39 year-old audience with short form, well-produced content (Quibi is short for “quick bites”). With nearly $2B in capital and seasoned media exectives at the helm, Quibi figured to be a sure bet during the COVID era of stay-at-home orders.
However, the early stage company hit a rocky patch almost immediately after its major ad campaigns began. Within three months, it had already been deemed an epic failure. News stories chronicling the debacle point to a simple but catastrophic mis-step: pursuing a target market without first understanding it.
In the same way, you can’t afford to assume “business as usual” with client entertainment until you understand what customers want. Like it or not, this pandemic took down the Olympics and every other major sporting event that said in March/April/May, “we’re still on track.” Simply put: sports & entertainment in 2020 will not be “business as usual.”
Once you’ve found the understanding you need, bring on the fun: the guest experience!
(After all, this is the reason companies entertain and reps salivate.)
In regular times, teams and venues work tirelessly to create memorable, suite-holder experiences. After conversing with many of them, the pandemic brings uncertainty, of course. But rest-assured, they are going to great lengths to reclaim as much of the typical event day experience as possible.
Those changes I would prepare customers for include:
– in-stadium climate (retractable domes may open to allow fresh air)
– mobile tickets instead of paper
– limited seating capacity
– cashless bars, fan shops, etc.
– no access to courtside/field level pre-game and post-game activities
– many F&B change (no open buffets, etc.)
– mask requirements (suite-holders may be provided masks with team logo)
(While I can’t guarantee the changes above, I do expect changes such as this.)
1. Your guests need great communication from you. The “new normal” of procedures and protocols on event day will be a shock to your guest’s typical routine. Ensure you’ve prepared pre-event emails outlining all that guests need to know.
For our customers, NextLevelFan’s template emails/SMS messages include the info you need to communicate.
Many times, reps communicate exclusively with your customer and guests. We recommend a different approach to ensure the message is consistent and timely. The better alternative is to schedule emails using a single platform. And by sending emails on behalf of your rep, you eliminate mishaps and allow your rep to stay engaged if the customer replies with a question.
Also, there will come a time when you need to reach one, some or all your guests at once. Plans are bound to change, and reaching 20-50 people can be daunting for a host. In the past, most of our customers used spreadsheets with attendee contact info. It’s nice to have… until you have to use it. To ensure swift and easy communication, you need a way to contact guests via SMS/Text or email with just a couple of taps.
2. Networking should be made easy and contactless. A large part of client entertainment is helping guests feel at-ease. If you thought the networking experience in a suite before COVID was hard, imagine an environment of socially-distanced, mask-wearing folk.
Tools that make networking easy are wins for your guest experience. How many times have you forgotten a person’s name you just met? When wearing a mask, how many more times might you forget names? Providing benefits like these to your guests will set you apart from all the other events they attend. And isn’t that one of the purposes: to set you apart from your competition?
Don’t expect guests to download another app just for your event. Instead, find a solution that focuses on a contactless networking experience.
With contactless “everything” on the rise, you want to look for a tool that provides guest-to-guest messaging and contact card sharing that goes directly into their phone contacts list (WITH your company name and event date added). You’ll also want to have visibility into who connected with who for sales rep follow-up.
3. Real-time guest feedback is your best friend. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. To get a 360-degree perspective of your client entertainment, you need guest feedback.
You want to know what concerns your guests most before the event? How about how guests are feeling thus far? Or certainly, what should be done next time to make the event even better?
Don’t just assume feedback is something you get at the end. Instead, find out what your guests and plus-ones want most from your event or would like to see improved next time.
Asking even simple, engaging questions can elicit incredible insight that future reps and other departments can use when you integrate your platform with CRM.
Bottom line, your stakeholders are you greatest resource for discovering how to make your re-launch the most successful it can be. Start your planning today!