It can be intimidating to entertain your clients, particularly if you’ll be traveling to an unfamiliar location.
Of course, you want to impress your clients and develop a lasting and mutually beneficial business relationship. But how do you plan the right activities and make sure everything runs smoothly?
Don’t stress: here are the expert tips you’ll want to know before entertaining your clients on a business trip.
Table of Contents
1. Do Your Research
Unfamiliar with the area you’ll be visiting? It’s wise to research the city and its offerings before you start planning.
Look up seasonal weather tendencies so you know what to expect and can plan appropriate activities. You might also search for popular neighborhoods and shopping districts featuring unique restaurants, as well as local entertainment favorites.
2. Read Reviews
Don’t be caught off guard by a restaurant with disappointing food quality and terrible service or a tour company notorious for being unprofessional.
Avoid these embarrassing situations by reading unbiased customer reviews before planning your itinerary. Some apps and websites like Yelp provide a platform for people to describe their experience with almost every type of company, both positive and negative.
3. Consider the Client
Activities you might think are fun and interesting might not be to your client, so be sure to consider them when booking entertainment.
If the client works in a more formal industry (such as law, finance, or government), avoid overly informal activities and restaurants. In contrast, if they work in a casual environment like a startup or progressive marketing firm, you can be a little more adventurous with your selections.
4. Choose Inclusive Activities
While a kayaking excursion, wine tasting session, or exciting concert can be excellent options for entertaining clients, keep in mind that not everyone can participate in or enjoy these activities.
Before making concrete plans, ask your client if certain types of entertainment would exclude or offend someone in their group. If that’s not an option or you don’t feel comfortable asking, book activities that follow these guidelines:
- No excessive physical exertion
- No alcohol or tobacco (like cigars and hookah)
- No loud noise or flashing lights
- No adrenaline or violent movies/activities
- Be sensitive to all cultures, ethnicities, and religions
- Ensure activities are accessible to people with disabilities
- Avoid activities that may offend the LBGTQ community and allies
5. Make Reservations
Even if you’re planning to treat your clients to lunch or dinner on a weekday at a non-peak time, never assume the restaurant will be able to accommodate your group (particularly if more than 4 people are dining).
Some of the most popular restaurants have a constant waiting list, which can leave your clients hungry and annoyed while they wait at a crowded bar.
The solution is simple: make reservations as soon as possible once you’ve confirmed your travel dates, as some restaurants are booked up to a month in advance.
6. Ask the Hotel Concierge
If you’re still unsure of how you should entertain your clients or have difficulty making reservations, don’t hesitate to tap the hotel concierge for ideas.
It’s their job to know everything about the city and its most remarkable offerings. Many of these entertainment gurus have developed relationships with local restaurants and can score reservations no one else can.
Concierge services are almost always complimentary depending on the assistance they provide, but be aware that tipping is appropriate.
7. Be Prepared
You can have stellar activities planned, but they won’t be impressive or professional if you’re fumbling for information last minute. So it’s essential to have details organized in one location that you can easily access on your phone.
Seasoned business travel pros like to store confirmation details in a designated email folder, add events to a calendar with notification alerts, and even save all relevant information in a notes application if mobile service is unreliable.
8. Stay Professional
Remember that even recreational activities you plan to entertain your clients are an attempt to get to know them better and establish a trusting relationship that will ideally last a long while. You are therefore representing your company, even when the meeting ends and the fun begins.
You can still enjoy yourself, but avoid these unprofessional mistakes:
- Wearing wrinkled, stained, or inappropriate clothing
- Excessive or irresponsible drinking
- Touching the clients (unless handshakes and similar gestures are acceptable to them)
- Swearing, using offensive terms, or discussing controversial topics
- Asking overly personal questions
- Flirting (even with members of your team)
Entertaining your client is often a crucial part of developing a professional relationship with them. Fortunately, you can minimize the pressure of planning activities and events by following a few simple guidelines.
Next time you’re feeling stressed about entertaining clients during a business trip, keep these 8 expert tips in mind.