Six Moves You Must Make To Keep People at Your Hospitality Event
Your ultimate goal at a hospitality event is to engage and entertain your top clients, gift them with a positive and memorable experience with your company, and connect them to your sales representative on a social and non-business level. Unlike the trade show, which is more product and capability focused, the hospitality suite is designed to make the client “know, like, and trust” the people at your company.
While most planners focus on getting people to their hospitality event, don’t forget that dozens of other companies are hosting events at the same time. Sometimes these events are even held on the same hotel floor as your event. Consequently, your clients often plan to “bounce” from party to party. If your event isn’t holding their attention, they will go somewhere else.
A huge goal, then, is making sure that people are so engaged and entertained at your event that they would never think of leaving.
Here are six moves you can make to ensure guests stay at your event:
The Off Site - Moving your event off site and busing your guests to the event is a powerful strategy because guests cannot simply walk out of your event. They’re captive to your transportation system. As long as you keep your guests engaged and entertained with things to see, do, eat, and drink at your event, they’ll have a wonderful time.
However, if guests get bored and realize they cannot leave, they’ll feel stranded and imprisoned at your venue. That damages the brand reputation you hoped to create, and it limits your ability to draw people to future off-site events.
Food and Drink - Convention cities are expensive, and eating three meals a day at restaurants and cafes during a conference adds up fast. Conference attendees are naturally attracted to events that provide free food, and everyone is attracted to events that host free drinks. This is hardly a point of differentiation, however, as all attendees know that every hospitality will have a bar and at least appetizers.
Provide something that a large number of people will like, deliver it in a unique and engaging way, if you can, and never close the bar or the buffet unless you want the event to end.
Comfortable Environment - As event planners seek out unique venues for their events, creating a comfortable environment for your guests to enjoy is sometimes forgotten. Be aware that some outdoor venues get extremely hot as the sun sets, and tropical venues can be oppressively humid outdoors. Be sure to create table space where people can rest drinks and plates, and make sure there are plenty of places to sit (people stay longer when they’re comfortably seated).
While concert performances are very popular, if your goal is to connect sales reps with your clients or facilitate networking, make sure the music volume allows people to comfortably talk with one another.
Connection - There’s nothing more boring than being alone at a party, and business conferences can be a lonely experience. Make sure your entertainment helps bring people together to connect at laugh at your event, so everyone feels welcome and comfortable. Obviously, your sales reps should be mingling throughout the event, talking and welcoming your guests and making sure everyone is having a good time.
When guests feel like they’ve connected with a group of interesting people they’d like to spend the night visiting with, they’ll stay longer, remember your event, and value your future invitations more.
Repeatable Entertainment - Most event planners forget to leverage the entertainment at their event. Creating an “always something more” feel at your event keeps your guests engaged and entertained longer. Having multiple rooms with different games, entertainers, and musicians is one strategy. Scheduling several stage performances during the evening does a similar thing: a comedian might do three 15 minute sets over a three hour event.
A good strolling magician builds crowd after crowd at hospitality events, so people see him perform multiple times throughout the night. He closes each set by saying “Have you seen the [bottle, orange, book, cup, etc] trick yet?” When they say “no,” he promises to return with it later. Mike Duseberg and Armando Vera, who pioneered this strategy at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, often perform at the same event, telling guests, “you’ve got to see the other guy!” There’s “always something more” to see, so the guests remain engaged and entertained later.
Avoid Premature Endings - Believe it or not, executives and event planners sometimes unintentionally “end” an event and invite their clients to leave. Drawings, welcome speeches, product demonstrations, and feature performances often conclude with applause. These leave guests thinking, “What's next?” Always make sure guests understand the bar is open and more things will happen as the night progresses, so they don’t assume they’ve seen everything and it’s time to leave.
Welcome speeches can be particularly dangerous: I once saw an executive, who wanted to help make sure everyone understood the transportation plan, inadvertently tell everyone at the event to “get on the bus” - so the entire group left two hours early!
You’re going to invest a lot of money in a good hospitality event - venue, decorations, food and beverage, and entertainment are all significant investments. Keep your people engaged, entertained, and connected to the other guests, and you’ll have a great event your guests will be looking forward to repeating next year.
Are you working on a hospitality event during a trade show or conference? If you’re ready to keep your guests engaged and entertained all night long, so they’re talking about your event and your brand throughout the conference, contact Mike Duseberg at the link below.