Entertaining Clients

0

Entertaining clients is a very important part of the business world and if it’s not something that you’re planning for in the near future, you certainly should be. There are many wide-ranging benefits, from getting to know those that you do business with in the community to client retention, growing your network, and beyond.

Getting out of the office environment is a great way to get to know your clients and to let them know that while you are serious about their business, you are also interested in getting to know them and showing them that they are an important part of your business.

Bowling is a popular pastime that is fun for everyone, so it’s a safe bet that it would be an enjoyable place to host a client appreciation event or to spend some time getting to know your clients in a laid-back environment that’s conducive for interaction and conversation.

“Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl are unique venues to entertain your clients,” says Jennifer Davis-Korn of 48Bowl (www.48bowl.com) . “The Pub inside Parkway Lanes is famous for its quiet atmosphere and great burgers. If it’s business that you need to conduct over food and drinks, you won’t even know that bowling is going on outside the pub doors. You and your clients can make yourselves at home amongst our beautiful woodwork, volumes of books and comfortable booths and tables. The Pub inside Parkway really feels more like your own personal den than a bar. And yes, we do play Husker games on our big screens on football Saturdays! If you’d like an intimate gathering of your friends for a game day celebration, the Parkway Pub is available for your exclusive rental. For more information about booking the Parkway Pub for a game day or any day, call Parkway Lanes at (402) 483-7763 and ask to speak with Terri Jo or Kathy.

If you have a bigger group or want to offer clients a variety of entertainment, Legends Lounge inside Hollywood Bowl is also available to rent for private parties. Or, for smaller groups, we can reserve a group of tables. Legends Lounge is famous for its cheesesteaks, big burgers, salads, liquor selection and rotating craft beer on tap and bottles. Along with our many TV’s tuned to football on Husker Saturdays, we also have pool, darts, Baggo, foosball and keno. Your clients will definitely have fun! For more information about using Legends Lounge inside Hollywood Bowl for entertaining your clients, please call Hollywood Bowl at (402) 466-1911 and ask to speak with Chris or Erika.

Of course, if you’d like to roll a few games and get your clients moving, the lanes at Parkway and Hollywood are always a great place to entertain guests. You can reserve anywhere from a single lane to the whole center, and we have a wide variety of open bowling times available. Food and beverages can be ordered and consumed lane-side so you don’t have to stop the game to refuel! Bowling with clients is a bit like golfing with clients, except that it’s a little less intimidating to those with no experience, you can talk during the swing, and the ball always comes back to you! For information about reserving lanes, rates and more, visit 48bowl.com.”

Lincoln is a metaphorical mine full of gems when it comes to fantastic venues downtown and in the Haymarket/Railyard area that offer a great mix of culture and unique local flavor that can’t be found anywhere else. So it only makes sense to utilize this to your advantage when entertaining your clients, and with quite the selection to choose from, you’ll also want to make sure that the event or outing you plan stands out while fitting the personality and comfort zone of the client.

Bill Stephan Lied Center for Performing Arts

Bill Stephan
Lied Center for Performing Arts

“Whether it’s a new or existing client, you should always aim to provide an experience that the client will remember long after the event has passed,” emphasizes Bill Stephan, Executive Director of the Lied Center for Performing Arts (www.liedcenter.org) . “Few venues in Lincoln share the distinctive culture, prime location and picturesque views that the Lied Center can provide for a special event. Entertaining clients at the Lied can range from ordering a block of prime seats through our group sales program (402-472-8510), hosting a pre-concert reception, arranging a meet and greet with our world-class artists, or creating your own unique event.

My advice to all event planners is to go first class.  Find the best venue that is high quality and includes professional staffing.  Identify a catering company that always delivers the best quality food with a creative menu. Our event clients love the flexibility and customizability that the Lied Center provides.

As a theatrical venue, almost anything is possible. Every event has the option of using colorful, theatrical lighting to highlight rooms and top quality audio systems for entertainment. We also allow clients to select their own caterer to best fit their needs, budget and event atmosphere. We are also well connected with local talent and will gladly make suggestions for entertainment at your event.

Moreover, the Lied Center has had the privilege of hosting many tailgating parties throughout the season including corporate clients and even the Chancellor’s tailgate! One of the best things about hosting a tailgate party at the Lied Center is its prime location and picturesque views of the UNL campus, not to mention it’s just steps away from Memorial Stadium!”

Jaime Johnson Rule G Night Club

Jaime Johnson
Rule G Night Club

“Entertaining potential clients has a few key benefits; namely it gives companies a chance to learn about a potential customer in a relaxed atmosphere, on a more personal level than in a traditional business setting,” further advises Jaime Johnson, Director of Events at Rule G Night Club (rulegnightclub.com) .  “It shows that you care about learning more about them and their goals.  It also gives you have a better understanding of the best ways you can serve your current and/or potential clients.

At Rule G, our venue provides a unique, upscale atmosphere for entertaining.  The Rooftop Patio, our most popular space during warmer weather months, has an incredible view overlooking the Railyard.  It features outdoor heating, a fireplace as well as outdoor air conditioning so it a great place to host events from April through November.  The Patio can be set-up for an intimate dinner for 25 guests or accommodate a group of 150 guests for an hors d’oeuvres reception. We can design a menu that incorporates the season.  A perfect way to end a hearty dinner on the Rooftop Patio in October, with the brisk autumn weather and vibrant colors of fall, is steaming apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream by the fireplace.

With our close proximity to the Pinnacle Bank Arena, some of our clients host events prior to concerts or Husker basketball games.  This is a great way to create an experience that evokes all the senses throughout an evening and is a memorable experience that is sure to impress potential or existing clients.

Events tailored to entertaining clients are about creating an experience that guests will remember and should also promote interaction.  This helps clients feel appreciated and valued while building long-term business relationships.”

For a different take on experiencing Lincoln while having an enjoyable time with your clients, you could also choose to invite them out for a Group Therapy Bike Tour.  With plenty of different routes to choose from, and even the option to design your own tour or offer your guests rides at a corporate event, there are plenty of different ways you could potentially incorporate a little bit of “group therapy” into your entertaining plans.

Photo_Drew_Philippi_Group_Therapy_Lincoln_Nebraska

Drew Philippi
Group Therapy Bike Tours

“We offer a unique way to bring people together for an enjoyable time and a chance for more personal interaction,” says Drew Philippi, owner of Group Therapy Bike Tours (www.grouptherapybiketours.com) . “A Group Therapy Bike Tour is the perfect opportunity to get everyone out of the office to get some fresh air and de-stress, listen to good tunes, stop by your favorite venues, and connect with one another outside of the usual business interactions. We like getting creative with the tours, so the possibilities are endless. For instance, we plan to offer a Christmas light tour during the holidays with festive music and hot toddies or other warm drinks for anyone who wants to bundle up and enjoy a unique experience.

Now that we have our liquor license, our offerings have also expanded for corporate events to include setting up as a mobile bar. A perfect example of this would be bringing the bike out to your next tailgate party. You could choose just the concierge bar services or you could also opt for renting the bike out to give your guests rides around the downtown, Haymarket or Railyard areas on Husker game days, which makes for an amazing experience.”

Stacy Leners Blur Parties Tailgate & Event Production

Stacy Leners
Blur Parties Tailgate & Event Production

“A popular and unique avenue to entertain clients is events held in conjunction with collegiate sporting events here in Nebraska; particularly football and baseball, but lately even basketball!” agrees Stacy Leners of Blur Parties Tailgate & Event Production (www.blurparties.com). “We offer hospitality tailgate services for both Nebraska football home and away games, as well as during the College World Series.  We take the hard work out of putting together the outing, creating a seamless way for clients to bring guests and entertain without the worry of grilling, serving guests, setting up and tearing down.  We also can put together the entire package from transportation and hotel arrangements to providing game day tickets in order to create the overall game day experience for everyone involved.

She further advises, “Make sure to think of all scenarios, good and bad, when planning an outing. This might include transportation, directions, hotel, tickets to an event, dress code, or if they can bring a guest, and so on. This way all pitfalls are avoided and your event will be successful.

Furthermore, consider planning an event that includes more than just a meal or drinks, with some sort of activity or experience to share together.  This will help foster great conversation and may lead to great business outcomes as well!  For instance, consider activities centered around sporting events, such as attending a game or festivities for a local sports team or scheduling a golf outing. You may also consider events like a wine tasting. With all of these examples, you’re creating an event where people don’t feel the need to interact immediately, which allows them to relax and unwind.  However, if you do plan an entertainment outing for a large portion of the day don’t forget to include some type of meal or variety of snacks.

The key to entertaining current or potential clients is making the experience personal. Therefore, make it a point to carefully listen to and learn about the interests of the person.   So when entertaining clients, enjoy your time together and don’t force the transaction of business.  Rather, use the time to build the relationship with your client and end the event with a forwarding statement or next steps such as, ‘I’ve really enjoyed our time together and I’m excited to work with you!’ For more information about using Blur Parties tailgate venues for entertaining your clients during Nebraska football or baseball games, feel free to contact me at (402) 882-2448 or stacy@blurparties.com.”

Among the popular places that never go out of style as far as entertaining is concerned are local restaurants and lounges, as treating clients to a meal or chatting over drinks is one of the basics in the business world. Or perhaps on the other hand you’ve picked a different type of venue and now you are working out all of the rest of the details on the planning side. Depending upon the offerings of the venue you’ve chosen and what your vision is for the scale of the soiree, event, or outing you have in mind, you may need to arrange for food/catering, décor, table settings, necessary equipment, bar services, entertainment, and so on.

Photo_Kelli_Pilkington_Venue_Lincoln_Nebraska

Kelli Pilkington
Venue Restaurant & Lounge

“There are several ways to Drink. Dine. Gather at Venue and entertain those very special clients,” says Kelli Pilkington of Venue Restaurant & Lounge (www.yourvenue.net).  “Venue has become a staple for just that. Whether taking advantage of our daily happy hour specials and freshly made hand crafted cocktails or entertaining clients at one of our monthly chef and wine dinners.  Reserving one of our private dining rooms is another opportunity for a more intimate meeting space while enjoying some our award winning wines and scratch base dinner menu. Whether you’re entertaining five people or a group of up to 100, we have the private dining room just for you.

As far as seasonal tailgating options for entertaining your clients, she adds, “Tailgating at Venue has never been so fun now with the new Luxury Concierge Bus we have added to our tailgating packages at Venue.  Join us for great food, fun service, and refreshing drinks and let us shuttle you to and from our lot.  This bus can be an easy way to park your cars, enjoy some of Venue, and come back with the ease of knowing you’re away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area.  What a fun way to entertain your clients the good ol’ Nebraska way of luxury and style.”

Dave Ferguson Smoking Gun Jerky

Dave Ferguson
Smoking Gun Jerky

On occasion it’s also a good idea to come bearing gifts, as it can make an excellent impression on your clients or it might be appropriate depending upon the event you’re hosting. If you’re looking to treat your clients during the football season that’s upon us, you may also want to consider a selection of new and exciting Nebraska-made products. Or, just add some local flare to your next tailgate that you’ve invited all of your clients to! “Smoking Gun Jerky has just introduced our new collegiate licensed, Nebraska-made ‘Husker Beef Jerky’ in two new exciting flavors – Hickory and Wicked Awesome!” says Dave Ferguson, President of Smoking Gun Jerky (www.smokinggunjerky.com).  “Jerky is a healthy, nutritious, ready to eat snack for people on the go. Or maybe you’re setting up an event where you’ll be grilling for your tailgate party?   Smoking Gun Jerky is the only place in Lincoln where you can pick up a Nebraska made ‘Blaz’n Grill’ Pellet Grill and Smoker.  We also stock eight different varieties of grilling pellets and smoking woods along with Nebraska made seasonings and Bar-B-Que sauces. So when you think of that special, unique gift to give or appreciation event to host for your clients, make sure to highlight and showcase locally made products – whether they are Nebraskans or from out of state, your clients will love them!”

Vicki Harris Harris Academy of the Arts

Vicki Harris
Harris Academy of the Arts

In the case of larger events for hosting your clients, arranging for entertainment will likely be on your to-do list. If you’re goal is to impress, live musicians are guaranteed to do the trick! “Harris Academy of the Arts provides talented and experienced professional musician performances for a wide variety of special events,” says Vicki Harris, owner of Harris Academy of the Arts (harrisacademyofthearts.com).  “As a result, an important goal of ours is to individualize and determine what musical selections and ensemble types will best fit the respective event.  When working with potential clients, we ask many questions and spend time getting to know what the goals and ideal envisioned performance is.  The questions we ask will range as widely as the type of events we perform for:  What is the purpose of the event?  How many will attend?  How long is the event?  How formal or not formal is the event?  Is the event outside or inside?  What kind of music are you hoping for?  What is the theme?  Are there special musical selections you are hoping for?  Is there a special or memorable piece that should be included?  And so on. We work hard to ensure that our services are best meeting the goals and reasons that they have opted to include live professional musicians.

As many of our existing clients can allude, we provide a consistent, reliable and professional service that adds ease to the planning of their event.  We strive to ‘sing off the same page’ so that the planner of the event is confident in our portion of the event, thus allowing them to focus their attention in other areas of the event planning.

Since Harris began in 2004, our instructors have provided talented, professional music performances for a wide variety of special events. Ensembles consist of solos, duets, trios, quartets and small ensembles, with styles of classical, Broadway, easy listening, jazz, pop and more. We are flexible to meet the needs of a clientele, in a variety of venues, whether large or small, indoor or outdoor. Furthermore, we have the luxury of providing two to three ensembles simultaneously, offering a variety of instrument options such as voice, piano and keyboard, guitar, strings, woodwinds and brass.

As there are a variety of events, we can provide recommendations for a variety of music ensembles based on budget, themes, size of event, and more. This might include retirement parties, holiday parties, corporate events, or fundraisers where you’re planning on entertaining your clients.As with many of our events, it’s all about fun, relaxation and bringing good people together.  With football season just around the corner, the almighty Cornhuskers unite!  Consider adding memorable ambience at your next tailgating party.  Event planners will be a winning hit with the class of a string quartet performing the unexpected sing along tunes (e.g., Journey, Kansas, The Beatles, Coldplay, U2, etc.) that get anyone in the spirit of a home football victory.  And naturally, our repertoire includes the Husker Fight Song!  Hiring a string quartet for a tailgating party will only help to WIN over that potential client or show appreciation to your dedicated clients.  You could also opt for a solo guitarist or a vocal option for tailgating, which are another fantastic way to celebrate the Huskers! The crowd won’t be able to help but join right in and sing along in the spirit of football season!

At no cost, our special events consultant will meet with you one-on-one to best understand your performance needs. With a high level of service, experience, and attention to detail, our consultant recommends ideal solutions and coordinates accordingly. Our consultant does not work on commission, eliminating any potential conflicts of interest. Assisting you through specific performance details or musical selection, we strive to ensure a smooth, stress-free, professional performance. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at (402) 423-7121 or via email at musicians@harrisacademyofthearts.com.”

While there are plenty of great local venues where you can bring your clients year-round, there are also some wonderful seasonal venues that you can still take advantage of before winter weather heads our way!

Located near Raymond, NE just minutes north of Lincoln, James Arthur Vineyards is scenic destination to take your clients where you can enjoy great conversation and the beauty of the vineyard along with a glass (or two) of wine. “With a selection of award-winning Nebraska wines combined with a convenient location that still gets you out of town and into the countryside for a relaxing afternoon or evening, you’ll be able to catch up in a low-key environment that’s conducive to enjoying one another’s company with minimal distraction,” says Jim Ballard, owner of James Arthur Vineyards (www.jamesarthurvineyards.com).

Jim Ballard James Arthur Vineyards

Jim Ballard
James Arthur Vineyards

If you opt to stay in town, you could also stop into the tasting room at From Nebraska Gift Shop to enjoy a glass of wine from James Arthur Vineyards, and you can even choose to catch some fresh air out on the dock while enjoying the Haymarket atmosphere.

Entertaining your clients will no doubt be one of the best things you’ve spent your time doing all year, from the benefit of getting to know who you are working with to showing those individuals that you value the professional relationship and are interested in cultivating it in the future. Whether your goal is to make a fantastic first impression, to show hospitality to clients who are traveling to you from out of the market, to extend your appreciation for a client’s continued business, or to set the tone for an upcoming business deal, there are many different ways that you could choose to approach each of these. While you may be inclined to consider it an expense, instead consider it as an investment in the heart of any business – its clientele.