Maugie Lyons: Pleasurable experiences

Should you mix business with pleasure? Maugie Lyons, head of commercial operations, Royal Horticultural Halls, seems to think so…

Why does the phrase corporate entertainment have such a bad reputation these days?  When and why did it get a bad press?

In our industry we know that corporate entertainment has not gone away, it has simply gone underground. While using aliases to book client entertainment for fear of negative press, companies continue to host events because frankly those events produce dividends.

This sector has been one of the hardest hit in the last year, so news that the UK economy is out of recession will be a much-needed boost. The question is – are the benefits of corporate hospitality worth the cost? My verdict – yes! It can take one good deal to arise and the whole hospitality programme is paid for: corporate guests are not stupid; they know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

The secret to successful hospitality is making it quantifiable. By doing so we enable press officers to have the key answers should angry press attempt to belittle the objectives and results of corporate entertainment. So it is essential to go into an event with well-structured targets. Before even starting to plan you must be clear about why you are holding the event so that the right people are invited and the right activity selected. Keeping the communications department fully briefed is vital.

Selling the concept and outcomes to the director’s office is essential. Then, with the right combination of format, venue and appropriate entertainment, you can be a winner for your company. Of course I have to mention “venues” … so make sure you select a venue that matches your guests’ tastes – media types usually like venues that are off-the-wall or quirky whereas more traditional audiences, such as bankers, tend to be more impressed with stately homes.

Carrying out a post-event debrief is also crucial to see what worked and what didn’t – understanding how the event went will help you move forward and make it even better next time. Executed well and planned thoroughly, the event will be memorable, the guests impressed and the right message communicated to the right audience

It’s time to rediscover the value of mixing business and pleasure – and it’s your role to make sure your organisation sees the value of both!