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Client Engagement Lessons from Paul McCartney

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Out There concert by Paul McCartney at Canadian Tire Centre (formerly Scotiabank Place) in Ottawa.

For a 71-year-old man, Sir Paul certainly can still rock it!  He came on stage at 9 p.m. and sang 38 songs by the time he finished his last encore shortly after midnight. No warm-up band, no intermission, all Paul for over three hours!

He played many old favourites from his days with The Beatles, from Eight Days a Week and All My Loving to Let it Be. There were more than a few songs from his days with Wings, like Live and Let Die and Band on the Run.

A bit bleary-eyed on this Monday morning, I’ve been contemplating how someone who has more than the right to retire can teach us some great client engagement lessons for the hospitality and meetings industry:

LOVE your clients:  McCartney clearly knows and enjoys his fans.  That’s why he brought on stage the 81-year old grandmother after he read the request on a sign, “Paul please give my 81-year old Nana a hug.” 

The Lesson:  As a sales representative for your hotel or meetings industry organization, do you love your clients? Yes, we all have pain-in-the-posterior clients, and sometimes they’re hard to like.  But in general, do you love your clients enough to always want to help them?  Or are you just selling to them?

Get personal:  McCartney delighted the crowd not only with his impressive musical talent, but also with his storytelling.  He told us about being flattered when guitar legend Jimi Hendrix played one of The Beatles’ songs in London, and then needing help getting his guitar tuned.  He recalled the night he jammed with George Harrison, playing the ukulele.  The audience lapped it up because it was genuine, unscripted and it came from the heart. 

The Lesson:  When you interact with clients and prospects, do you tell them real-life stories?  Meaningful, personal tidbits about your hotel or your destination, not just the “official” line?  This isn’t about sharing details of your personal life; this is about relating a problem you were able to solve for another client, or your personal experience with your employer, that distinguishes you from the other suppliers out there.

Give them a treat:  Because he loves his fans and wants to have a personal relationship with them, McCartney had prepared a very special surprise for his Ottawa fans.  He knows how patriotic we are, so for his first encore he came out waving a big Canadian flag, while the rest of the band followed with the Union Jack.  Then during his last encore (he had three!), he brought out the Ottawa Police Services Pipe Band, paid homage to “Annie Murray” and performed Mull of Kintyre.  There were tears of joy and frissons of pleasure all around…

The Lesson: OK, so maybe we aren’t all able to bring out the bagpipes, but we can surprise our clients with genuine appreciation.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot either: a thank you card, a referral for a piece of business, a thoughtful (not canned!) endorsement on LinkedIn.

Increasing client engagement is the antidote to the commoditization that's plaguing hotels and most destinations in the meetings industry (see How Hotels Can Avoid Commoditization, Lead Spam & the Increasing Commoditization of the Meetings Industry)

Do you have any client engagement lessons?  Please share them here!