Establishing a good rapport with clients and building a relationship that’s mutually beneficial is the goal of any businessperson who understands exactly what it takes to be successful. Entertaining clients is one of the best ways to achieve this because it’s not all about the business transaction, but more so about finding common ground. By inviting your client to get together outside of the normal business setting and treating them to a nice experience, you’ll not only so have a better understanding of each other afterwards but as a result of that important personal interaction, your partnership will become stronger.
When it comes to matching the client’s personality, interests, preferences, and so on with the ideal activity or setting, it can be tricky to decide what’s best out of the many options that are available. Therefore, we’ve covered some of our favorites below to give you a few ideas to roll around!
A Quick Lunch
Let’s start simple. You’d be surprised at how much ground you can cover of the course of a lunch meeting, and not necessarily just for conducting business either. Inviting a client to grab a quick lunch and catch up is always welcomed, schedule permitting. There are plenty of great places around town to grab a bite, so you can pick and choose based on the most convenient location, your favorite spot, or a new place that you can introduce to your client or both try out together. You’ll both be enjoying a little bit of actual real-world face time, which is refreshing given that so much work now is done via computers and mobile devices. The expense of two lunches and the time away from your desk is minimal compared to the relationship that you’re cultivating.
Whether the plan is to hit up a vibrant happy hour or unwind and enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere, getting together for drinks is one of the best ways to spark up an easygoing conversation.
Each bar, lounge and restaurant in town offers its own unique atmosphere, so it’s all about choosing the scene that you think best fits the person you are entertaining. Since there’s something for everyone, you can have fun “picking your poison!” But also in this particular setting, be sure not to over-indulge and to stick as closely as possible to your usual business etiquette; even though the goal is to get personal, there’s a fine line between unwinding and coming undone.
Out & About
Aside from lunch dates and meeting for drinks, there are plenty of other opportunities to invite your clients to get together for a little fun outside of the work environment. The setting and experience should always be determined by what you think the client would like as well as what you think they’d be most comfortable with for the best outcome. There are many great things to do in the Omaha Metro as well as other gems that are technically outside of the city but yet at a reasonable distance to travel.
Sometimes getting out of the normal scenery in town is the best idea, and hitting the road for an adventure isn’t just something you can do with your family and friends.
Located near Fremont on the Platte River, Bryson Airboats provides a great way to get out into nature with the added thrill of cruising up and down the river on an airboat. There are plenty of opportunities to catch an amazing glimpse of the wildlife in their natural habitat, with eagles soaring around in close proximity to their nests and picturesque views among the spectacular highlights. When it comes to impressing your clients with an experience they won’t soon forget, this is the way to go!
“Our most popular Three Hours of Fun package includes continuous airboat rides as well as access to the riverfront property and amenities, including a grill, horseshoe pits, bean bag toss, sand volleyball court, and even swimming in the river if you like!” says Bryson, the locally famous face of Bryson’s Airboat Tours. “There are picnic tables lined up that will accommodate seating for up to 40 people, and there’s plenty of room for more to join the fun by renting tables, chairs, even a tent, or bringing out your own. Weather is unpredictable, so sometimes spending a little extra to rent a tent is cheap insurance that your event can still go on even if it is raining. We’re close to Lincoln and Omaha, so you can invite clients from either area with no worry that it’s too far away!”
Another amazing option incorporating nature, fun and relaxation that’s conveniently located within a reasonable distance from Omaha or Lincoln is Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm, which is situated just west of Nebraska City.
Based on her experience working with clients to make arrangements for business-related events, Rachel Schizas, Sales Manager at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, provides her insight into entertaining clients and also offers ideas as to how you could utilize the different aspects found on the property for your next corporate event.
“When entertaining existing or potential clients, I refer to a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, ‘People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.’
Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm offers a unique and inspiring experience to entertain clients. When visiting, clients can not only see but feel the passion we have not only for our environment but for our guests through the experienced staff and world-class amenities on our 260-acre property filled with engaging activities including wine tastings, bonfires, and so much more. This allows genuine relationships to be built with clients by getting to know them on a more personal level.
At Arbor Day Farm we feel fresh air leads to not only fresh ideas but also fosters collaboration. Gather your clients for cookout and yard games at the Historic Barns, take a vineyard tour complete with an Arbor Day Farm wine tasting, or simply gather ‘round the bonfire for s’mores. From the warm ambiance of our boardroom to a bonfire surrounded by nature, it will be an event each client will remember.
Our venue is also a great location to host a tailgate or Husker-themed event. Many clients call in advance to reserve the perfect meeting and choose to incorporate a tailgate event. With large screens airing the big game, gourmet burgers and brats, and snacks of your choice, the scene will be set perfectly. With over 260-acres to work with, there is plenty of outdoor space for bouncy bounces or a friendly game of kickball.
Whether you’re entertaining your family or a group of clients, there is an activity for everyone’s and skill level interest. At Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm entertaining clients is about cultivating relationships and leaving inspired.”
Alternatively, you might not have to go very far at all to feel like you’re outside of the city. For a fantastic time that’s perfect for the fall season that’s upon us, Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch has a few upcoming festivals that you could organize an event around that’s fun for all ages, which is the perfect fit if your goal is to not only include your clients but their families as well.
Fall offers a wide variety of events and activities to get involved in, including the Great Pumpkin Roundup, hayrack rides, fire pit rentals and many more Halloween festivities. “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 of Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch. “At Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch we always have seasonal activities, whether it’s getting in on the harvest, enjoying live music or a deejay, partaking in any number of special activities scheduled for that day such as our festivals, hayrack rides, or haunted house. Depending upon what your client enjoys doing in their spare time, we find that a lot of people enjoy that our barns also 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.”
Planning an Event
As a client, it’s especially nice to be treated by those you do business with as a gesture of thanks for your continued partnership. So on the other side of the table, hosting your own event to entertain a number of clients is the perfect way to bring many busy professionals together, and when that happens, you know there are sure to be multiple benefits! Everyone in attendance will also have the opportunity to expand their own circle, so by providing the opportunity to mix it up, make connections and have a good time, it’s a win-win for all.
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! As with lunch or drinks, this is also an area to consider what best fits those you’ll be entertaining.
“It’s a good idea to try and stay within everyone’s comfort zones when it comes to the food,” advises Sean Fuller, owner of 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. Since we’ve introduced our food truck and catering services we have been working with more large parties, as it’s an effortless and fun way to serve a lot of people a quality meal while everyone has a good time with one another. But we also still see a lot of clients stop in and grab what they need for their event because we have it all ready to go and set-up is a breeze. Either way, you’ll be all set with a good meal that your clients will enjoy!”
The same idea of having a spread to choose also works really well with dessert. “One of our most popular services for client entertaining and appreciation events is providing a dessert bar with an amazing spread of customized treats,” says Michelle Kaiser, owner of The Omaha Bakery. “These can be as simple or elaborate as requested, and we are happy to provide set-up and clean-up for corporate events. Our team can work with any budget, and we take pride in accommodating just about any request that comes our way. We also offer party trays that can be customized in so many ways. Some examples are cookie trays, cheesecake trays, brownie trays, assorted pastry trays, chocolate dipped fruit trays, or any mixture of those and more.”
Among the highlights of an event that leave a lasting impression, food and drink are atop the list, but it’s also nice to add to that foundation by incorporating other unique elements. You build everything around a special theme or add that one thing that’s the “cherry on top” – anything that you do to go above and beyond will be noticed and appreciated.
When it comes to adding the special touches, Stacy Leners with Blur Parties offers a few key pieces of advice. “The number one thing to do is be prepared ahead of time for not only the event but things that may come up during the event! The more prepared you are, the more stress-free you will be and the more time you will have to entertain and make the most out of the entertainment experience.
Second, whether you’re entertaining a client or potential client, find out what interests them. What do they enjoy doing as a hobby, do they like to golf, are they foodies, or are they sports fanatics? You want to invite them to something they enjoy so they are comfortable in the situation. For example, don’t take someone golfing who has never been on a course before. This can create a stressful time for the client and is not enjoyable or beneficial for either party.
All of the events that we host, including College World Series and of course, Nebraska football tailgates both in-town and out-of-state, as well as an annual wine festival, are all-inclusive ways you could entertain your clients. While tailgates are full of action, fun, and energy, the wine festival is a more easygoing setting that would be a better fit for a client who enjoys wine, local artisans and live music. It’s all about finding or creating that ideal opportunity to connect.”
Of course, a Husker tailgate is at the top of the list of fun activities that you could opt for given the time of year! Hosting out of town clients on game days here in Nebraska is sure to provide an amazing, unforgettable experience. And, since the vast majority of your in-town clients are fellow Husker football fanatics and will be observing the same Saturday tradition, you may as well capitalize on that and host an amazing tailgate event!
“At Blur Parties our specialty is game day tailgate hospitality, both for Nebraska football and the College World Series, including entertainment with the day’s best games on TV, DJ’s, food and beverage, along with celebrity appearances and tailgate games and giveaway,” Leners further details. “Everything is pre-arranged and pre-paid so that all our clients have to do is invite their guests, show up and we take care of the rest!
For these types of events it’s best to know your guests interest levels ahead of time, and not only sporting interest but social interests. What do they like to eat and drink? Do they like to partake in tailgate games or would they rather watch other games that are on that day? Is there a certain type of music they prefer? We also put together packages with game tickets, hotel and transportation for guests coming from out of town.
As many of you are already aware, our first away game is at Northwestern this year on Saturday, September 24th. Staying true to our tradition, Blur Parties will be bringing our famous Husker tailgate to Evanston, IL! Full package options are available online at www.blurparties.com/northwestern and you can also view videos from past 2012 and 2014 Blur Parties Northwestern tailgates!
The advantage to selecting any type of Blur Parties tailgate is you can create a full game day experience where everything is already taken care of, making it easy to simply sit back and entertain while others do the work such as setting up the environment, managing a guest list, catering, tearing down the tailgate, and so on. Leave the hard work to us and sit back, entertain and enjoy the day, which can include the tailgate and on to attending the game or alternatively, just hang out at the tailgate and watch the game with beverages still flowing!”
Another popular form of entertainment that is guaranteed to be enjoyable for just about anyone is a night out at the movies, and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema isn’t just your average movie theatre!
“With such a unique venue and offerings, we are able to offer a wealth of options for customizing corporate events,” says Tyler Calabrese, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Franchise Principle for the Omaha Market. “Our dedicated wait staff, professional kitchen staff providing chef-inspired and prepared fare, and experienced bartenders at our full bar are all at your service to ensure that you and your guests can sit back, relax and converse before and after the movie while we bring everything right to your seats. If you’re planning to host an event for a large group of clients, we have 8 theatres ranging in size from 52-196 seats and in-house catering can be arranged accordingly. There are several options to choose from, including full menu service, buffet service, and plated custom service or alternatively, you could go with the classic popcorn and drink option. If you’re looking to get creative or for something new, we’ve done different themes for Movie Parties and we offer Action Packs, with interactive options such as sing-alongs and quote-alongs. Other fun options are ‘Geeks Who Drink’, a quiz including audio or video elements that helps to break the ice and gets everyone in the game for a little friendly competition, or ‘Heckelvision’, where you pick your favorite (or most annoying) movie and then let guests text their own commentary straight from their phones to the big screen! Just let us know what you have in mind and our team will ensure all of the bases covered for a memorable experience.”
Now that we’ve presented a range of different options, it is our hope that you’ll be able to draw inspiration for your next opportunity to not only entertain your clients, but do so with flare. While we often spend most of our time in the business world educating people about the benefits of our offerings, sometimes it’s more about taking the opportunity to simply entertain and see where the time spent together takes you. As put very eloquently by Walt Disney, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate and hope they were entertained.” The point is that there is always something you can learn by simply spending time with one another outside of the environment in which you do business.