Industry Insights: Andrew White

Business Coaching

Andrew asks: ‘Are you corporate compatible?’

The Open Air Business Gathering was a masterstroke and I take my hat off to Tally for bringing such an engaged, enthusiastic and eclectic group together. The organisations in attendance were varied, fascinating businesses; the common goal for everyone was to share best practice and insights and ultimately to maximise revenues from the numerous visitor and guests channels available.

Corporate event chairs tables and screen
Photo: Tower of London

My talk on the day centered on the corporate market and the corporate expectations of a venue. My 30 minutes exemplified what can happen for those who want to host business events. For those present at my session you’ll have seen first-hand my IT woes. For those of you not, there was mild panic as I broke the tech on cue at the start of my allotted slot. I’m a luddite when it comes to laptops and technology and was stricken at the thought of presenting to a group without any slides; slides that were the only injection of colour to a fairly dry topic!

Fortunately, Tally was by my side, as was one of Hothorpe Hall’s amazing team and they fixed the issue instantaneously. But these tech-tribulations are going to happen as a daily occurrence if you want to talk to the corporate market. Business event organisers often present from their laptops and want to link to a projector and screen quickly and efficiently – they expect the same infrastructure to be in place that they have in their state-of-the-art offices, and most of all they expect to be able to resolve any issues quickly.

Projector for corporate presentation
Photo: Getty Images

The corporate market is high maintenance and expectations are built on the fact that if you say you can do conference events you should have similar facilities and service levels as a hotel or purpose build conference centre. We love something different, but product and service standards are simply not for negotiation.

It is imperative that, if you want to switch on the market, you have your product and service levels ‘corporate compatible’ and you’ve considered the myriad requests that you will be faced with: questions such as “We are streaming in the USA – how big is your broadband?” or “One of our delegates has just informed us they only eat Kosher food.” Attentiveness and service levels must be in place if you want to gain a reputation and win repeat business. Corporates talk, and a job well done will be rewarded with repeat business and very likely a recommendation from one of the delegates in the room.

Organisers like to purchase their conferences per head. This Day Delegate Rate allows them to compare two or three venues and weigh up which gives best value for money. However, their decisions aren’t just based on money as most corporates would probably prefer to use individual, independent and standout properties.

Day Delegate Rates should as a minimum include:
• Room hire
• Two to three servings of tea, coffee and biscuits/pastries
• Buffet lunch
• Still and sparkling water
• Flip chart and pens
• Whiteboard
• Complimentary Wi-Fi, car parking and other AV equipment such as a projector are more generally included too.

Laptop and projector on a desk at corporate event
Photo: Getty Images

Your property may have the best views over rolling countryside, or a rich history steeped in tradition, but it is the service levels that clients will remember. Therefore, be sure that you have the infrastructure of people in place to ensure that the occasion runs smoothly.

Just as Hothorpe Hall has, think about who can fix IT and AV equipment with minimal fuss, have you enough people to help with morning tea and coffee and do you have enough staff in the kitchen so that you can be flexible of timings?

Fantastic service is a differentiator in today’s crowded market – but be sure that you are business fit and ready for a lot of questions and plenty of hiccups.

Every speaker doesn’t just have to worry about their content and the audience’s engagement – all too often it’s connecting the laptop to the screen that is the biggest hurdle and, case in point with my experience, a differentiator of a great venue.

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