Entertaining Clients in Omaha – 2017

What have you done lately that involved spending time with your clients aside from when you were conducting business? If your answer to that is nothing, you’re missing a major opportunity that’s one of the most rewarding out there. Business is all about relationships – establishing them, developing them, and strengthening them. It only makes sense to set up enjoyable events that facilitate the interaction necessary to accomplish those objectives periodically.

The effort you put into the relationships with your clients and to show gratitude for their continued business will greatly influence your success.

Doing something special to treat your clients every so often is the perfect way to show your appreciation. By opting for some sort of event, party, outing, or small gathering, it will not only give you a chance to get to know them outside of just your business relationship, but will strengthen your partnership overall. In the end, people do business with people. If you can make your clients feel like they are doing business not just with your company, but your people, you will keep your clients happier and lengthen the longevity of your partnership.

With endless options for entertaining, it’s wise to be thoughtful about selecting how you will occupy your time together.

When it comes to entertaining clients, it’s all in the details. For those planning this type of event, the location will determine a lot of the other aspects that will need to be coordinated and decisions to be made, so securing that is at the top of the to-do list. It’s also extremely helpful to book an event at a venue with experienced professionals who can help you with planning the details. It can easily end up being a lot of work to do so on your own, and it’s likely not one of your greatest talents either, otherwise, you’d probably be doing it for a living.

How large your company and customer base is in total, or the size of the targeted group you’re entertaining, will determine your venue options for hosting such an event. While some events are appropriate at your office or place of business, others will be better suited at an off-site location. Setting a budget and understanding any limitations that are present is important as that will factor into the decision on where to host your event as well.

For those seeking unique ideas to consider, as representatives of the most common destinations for client entertaining, the hospitality professionals are notorious for offering great suggestions for these types of events.

As far as new and exciting venues to look into for your upcoming event, the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District would make for an impressive one.

Highlights include a full-service restaurant, Society 1854, and bar, Burdock + Bitters, a rooftop pool with a bar and entertainment area, outdoor event areas and more than 17,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including an 11,000 square-foot ballroom, one of the largest in Omaha. The new property also has a concierge lounge, dedicated to Elite Marriott Rewards members and other VIP guests, and a “Next Gen” meeting space, which is customizable for every group.

It’s also situated in a prime location in the Capitol District, an upscale urban dining and entertainment mecca in the heart of Omaha’s downtown scene.

Vanessa Vasa Marriott Omaha Downtown-Capitol District - Headshot

Vanessa Vasa
Marriott Omaha Downtown-Capitol District

Vanessa Vasa with the Marriott Omaha Downtown – Capitol District provides a few tips for those who are planning upcoming client entertaining events.

“The craft cocktail scene is hot right now. Kick it up a notch from your standard beer, wine, and vodka tonic and feature specialty craft cocktails at your event bar. People will love you for it.

Above all, know your audience. Planning a successful client event will depend on your understanding of those who might attend. Do your research and find out if they have any food or beverage preferences. Then surprise them! With existing clients, take note of their preferences and make sure you incorporate them in your next event or encounter. Nailing the small details will make the biggest impact and set you apart from the rest.”

Another upscale entertainment experience to consider is the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Sunshine Taproom.

Derek Dillon-Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Derek Dillon
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

In agreement on the importance of tailoring the event details to those you are inviting, Derek Dillon with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Liquid Sunshine Taproom further advises, “Keep in mind who your client is and who the people are on your client’s team. It’s just like with any other sort of advertising or marketing execution in that you need to know who your target demographic is and how they’ll respond to your message. Make sure your entertainment is in line with your client and your client’s values as a business.

Also, be sure that you aren’t trying to overextend and go too far beyond what’s going to be perceived as authentic. Sure, you want to impress, but if you try to pretend that you are something that you are not it will show in the execution of the event and give your clients the wrong impression of who you really are. Stick to what you know and make sure you’re working with professionals who will help you execute that to perfection to ensure your guests are getting the best experience possible.

The interaction that happens when entertaining clients is important for a business relationship. As a venue, we provide many different opportunities for our clients to use different aspects of our business. Ultimately, we’re able to put together a fun way to unwind for a few hours of escape and entertainment from the usual Monday through Friday 9-to-5.

In planning for an event we want to make sure that our clients are getting the service and experience that they can’t get anywhere else. Luckily our general business model already provides that, but we have the resources to go above and beyond in that regard.”

If the setting you have in mind is one outside of the city, which is a great way to do something a little different and get people out of the office setting and into the fresh air and sunshine, of course, we can provide a couple of ideas for that type of event too!

Bryson-Bryson's Airboat Tours

Bryson’s Airboat Tours

“Our riverfront property is perfect for client entertaining as it’s a relaxing atmosphere with plenty of seating and room to mingle, games to play, standard amenities provided, it’s a secluded spot that’s not open to the public, and of course, the highlight of the event as it’s not something most do on a regular basis, airboat rides!” says Bryson of Bryson’s Airboat Tours. “We host a lot of these events every year, and the feedback we receive is that in the three hours spent together, you learn more about each other than the three years you’ve shared a business relationship together. That really says something about the importance of making the time to plan and host an event for your clients. It’s a unique, fun experience, and one that’s not overly complicated or with too many distractions, which can get in the way of the bonding that’s the whole reason behind coming together. Although it might not come to mind first, it’s also an excellent spot to host a Husker football watch party. Especially for those of us in the Omaha area and surrounding cities, we know that a great tailgate party doesn’t always mean a parking lot near Memorial Stadium! The property can be rented for the day with or without the airboat rides, you can bring in your generators, TVs and A/V equipment, and anything else needed for the ultimate tailgate, and make it your own private party spot.”

For those who are hosting outdoor events, he also offers a word of caution regarding planning for the weather accordingly. “Ensuring there is a covered area is highly recommended. If there isn’t one already on-site, consider renting one. If you’re putting time, money, and effort into an event, you want everything to be perfect. In Nebraska we have the extremes, which during our open season, are storms and scorchers. Protection from the elements, whether it’s for shelter or shade, will ensure your guests will stay longer and enjoy themselves more. A tent or awning is such a simple thing that surprisingly really does transform the area, and people do tend to gravitate towards those. Paying attention to the details necessary to create the ideal environment is an essential part of entertaining.

Also, keep in mind that there’s usually a reason why things are done a certain way. If you have a creative or wild idea, pass it by the professionals to make sure it will work, because they’ve seen it all – or most of it at least – before. With plenty of past experiences to reference, they can easily tell you what works best and what to avoid, so take their word for it. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or either; we’re always happy to help!”

Then there’s the picturesque Arbor Day Farm located in Nebraska City, with much to offer across the 260-acre property.

Brenda McIntosh Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm - Headshot

Brenda McIntosh
Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm

“I always enjoy it when potential clients come to the farm so they can see firsthand what we have to offer,” says Brenda McIntosh with Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm. “We can do a wine tasting at Lied Lodge or the Apple House Market, which is always a hit. Clients also enjoy having lunch or dinner in the Timber Dining Room or just hanging out in the Library Lounge.

Finding the right setting is critical. You need to know what your clients find enjoyable and beneficial. For example, taking a client to a brewpub and then finding out he/she doesn’t drink beer would be a missed opportunity.

If coming out here isn’t feasible, another option is to ask clients to pick out a favorite restaurant near where they work. This is likely to be a welcomed option for clients with busy schedules. With that in mind, our sales team recently hosted a holiday lunch with several clients at a popular restaurant in their area. It was a big hit and an effective way for us to bring Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm to them, while being respectful of their time. I always ask my clients what is of interest to them and how much time they have. And I like to bring something they can take with them. Often, I give clients a tree seedling because it is a gift they can enjoy and share with family and friends.

Entertaining clients is a wonderful way to thank them for their business. It shows you appreciate them, which helps build long-term relationships. It also gives you a chance to show your clients who you are outside of the traditional work environment. The more you know about each other (hobbies, family, etc.), the better the comfort level and trust.”

Also making mention of Husker-themed events, which are incredibly popular this time of year and a great fit for entertaining clients, McIntosh advises, “Who doesn’t enjoy a tailgate party? This type of event provides a casual atmosphere where it’s easy to get to know people. I recommend having games for people to play because they’re a perfect icebreaker — they make it easier for people to interact with one another and have fun. Great food is always important.”

Speaking of great food, it’s what brings everyone together. When you have a gathering in your home, where are most people hanging out? The kitchen! Anywhere else you host an event, consider it an entertaining staple. Planning an event to bring in customers, clients or prospective customers isn’t much different than an event you’d hold at your house. And in order for either to be successful you need just a few things to create a warm, inviting, and fun atmosphere—food, drinks, and good company.

If you are setting up a special event where you’ll be entertaining your clients, you’ll want to line up the location and then work out the details for catering, because no event is complete without great fare! This is also an area to consider what best fits those you’ll be entertaining.

Sean Fuller-Just Good Meat

Sean Fuller
Just Good Meat

“It’s a good idea to try and stay within everyone’s comfort zones when it comes to the food,” advises Sean Fuller with Just Good Meat. “Offering an arrangement of several different items will help you to cover the bases so that there’s at least one thing that will appeal to each person in the group. When it comes to meat, we have so many different items to choose from–smoked chicken, pulled pork, brisket, specialty recipes such as Carolina-style barbecue with coleslaw mixed in, items that are easy to eat such as sliders, and the list goes on well past that. With plenty of different sides, the combinations for your spread are endless. For those who need to stay on a set budget, we have the ability to mix and match just about any of our items so that you can put together a quality meal that still has variety without overspending.

At Just Good Meat we really enjoy working with our clients on custom orders, as we feel that consultations are the perfect way for us to get an idea of what you’re envisioning, how many people you’re entertaining, what your goals are for the event, and what your budget is. Likewise, it allows the customer to get a good idea of what we have to offer so that they can ask questions and feel comfortable that they’ve made the best decision from our wealth of options. Our catering services and food truck both provide an effortless and fun way to serve a lot of people a quality meal while everyone has a good time with one another. Alternatively, we have many clients who stop in and grab what they need for their event because we’ll have it all ready to go for them and set-up is a breeze. Either way, you’ll be all set with a good meal that your clients will enjoy!”

Back to the location, as luck (and convenience) would have it, there are even a few places to take an outdoor excursion of sorts with your clients that are technically within city limits.

With the fall season upon us, Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch is perfect for group outings, and it’s family-friendly in case you want to extend the invitation past just you and the client. Coming up there’s the red raspberry picking season beginning in October, not to mention pumpkins galore and all of the other fun Halloween festivities. It’s the perfect time of year for bonfires, hayrack rides, and just being out in nature with all of the colors smells of autumn.

Tyson Schaefer-Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch

Tyson Schaefer
Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch

“We have a lot of corporate clients that book our barns and bring everyone out for a meal or meeting, and as an added perk they can enjoy everything else that’s going on at our venue during that time,” explains Tyson Schaefer with Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch. “At Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch we always have seasonal activities, whether it’s getting in on the harvest, festivals, enjoying live music or a deejay, or partaking in any number of special activities scheduled for the day.

There are multiple facilities on the property that accommodate different sizes of groups, with each featuring a versatile combination of space and amenities, and our catering consistently gets rave reviews. There’s a full catering menu complete with options for dinner that encompasses many different types of cuisine, appetizer spreads, desserts and the bar services are covered too.

We also find that a lot of people enjoy that our barns offer the opportunity to have a campfire. This way you can prepare a meal together or simply enjoy the outdoors and each other’s company.

Daytime or evening requests are welcome, and our team can even plan an itinerary for a client entertaining event to accommodate your unique group. This might include an obstacle course, zipline, karaoke or dance party – there are a lot of unique options that we can set up. Our venue is particularly nice for relaxing, with beautiful scenery and a comfortable environment that’s conducive for bonding and a fun experience that isn’t your average ‘dinner & drinks’ engagement.”

With all of this talk about fun places to host an event, if the drinks will be flowing, it’s also worth mentioning that it’s not a bad idea to line up transportation so that your guests will have easy access to a safe ride home should they need it.

Also, if you want to put together an itinerary that requires traveling to another, or several, destinations, depending on the locations and proximity to one another, arranging for group transportation may be advantageous in this scenario too.

By including transportation as a part of the entertaining when needed, it shows you’ve been thorough with your planning and really want your guests to enjoy themselves.

Entertaining clients has always been, and will continue to be, an essential part of what it takes to form prosperous, lasting partnerships in the business community. Those who consider it as such and make it a point to do so on a regular basis are the wisest and savviest of businesspeople. When you demonstrate that you truly value the relationships that support your livelihood, and recognize the importance of conveying that gratitude with an experience that’s personal and well thought out, everybody wins.