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Six tips to make your client events more impactful

This post is by guest contributor Cara Tracy, CMP, CMM.  Cara is a meetings industry professional who has been on the supply side of the industry, as well as the planning side.

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You hold client events to show your current and potential customers that you appreciate them, right? To make sure you are effective, there are a few things to consider before rolling out the red carpet. It starts with the invitation and ends with the follow up.
  1. Double check your invitation list
    Unless it is an overnight event and you are providing transportation and lodging, make sure you are inviting only local customers. I am based in the Phoenix area and have been invited to luncheons in DC and ballgames in various cities around the U.S. Sure, I can just toss or delete the invitation—which I do—but why make a customer think you aren’t on top of things? If you know a specific customer travels frequently to your area, send them an invitation with a personal note that says “I know you live in Phoenix, but if you happen to be in our area...”
  2. Make it easy to RSVP
    Allow the client to simply respond to the email or include a hotlink to respond “yes” or “no.” Don’t make them fill out a complicated form to say they aren’t coming. If you want to get updated information from them (title, address, etc.) give them the option.
  3. Details, details!
    Provide as much information as possible in the invitation (or a confirmation letter well in advance of the event.) Is there a dress code? What is the agenda? Are there specific parking instructions? Are guests allowed? What costs are being covered? Remember, we are planners and we like and need details!
  4. Follow up with those who have special needs
    If you ask registrants if they have special dietary or other needs, do something with the information! Share it with the hotel or venue, find out what accommodations will be made, and let the attendee know. I attended a client event a few years ago and indicated on my registration (where asked) that I require gluten-free meals. When I arrived at the event, no arrangements had been made and I was on my own to track down a chef who could let me know what I could and could not eat.
  5. Make attendees feel appreciated, not sold to
    Sure, you want to get future business from the attendees—just don’t make it so obvious. I attended a client dinner for a major hotel company a few years ago. At each course, the hotel representatives moved to sit with another client so the salesperson and client could each be exposed to the maximum number of people throughout the evening. It was nice that the clients didn’t have to move, but all night long I got asked by my new tablemates, “So, do you book meetings in XYZ city?”
  6. Keep the good vibes flowing
    Hopefully, your attendees had a great time. You want them to keep those positive thoughts in their mind. Send a link so they can download (for free) photos taken at the event, or a follow-up video recapping the fun time everyone had. And review your mailing list so you don’t send the follow up to people who did not attend.
As with any event, put yourself in the attendees’—your client’s—shoes and think about their experience. What kinds of things have you appreciated or disliked about customer events you’ve attended in the past?