By Claire West
As leading think tank, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), forecasts a triple-dip recession, corporate hospitality events, increasingly perceived as decadent by outsiders, are at risk of the chop.
Done well, however, most company executives acknowledge this form of client and prospect engagement can deliver worthwhile returns, but still find it really hard to justify when budgets are tight.
Add to this the inexperienced, reticent host, uncomfortable with face time, grappling to make conversation, stumbling from one awkward moment to another or maybe remaining safely in the background talking with colleagues, and you watch helplessly as the opportunity costs of customer entertainment runs through your fingers.
With the Corporate Hospitality sector worth around £1.5 billion in the UK alone, that could mean many organisations are wasting millions of pounds and do not realise it.
But help is at hand.
Mark Perl, the author of two new books, The Impeccable Host and The Impeccable Planner, has been on both sides of the industry, at events staged all over the world, as both a major event venue operator and a corporate hospitality provider.
"Getting clients boozed up and simply enjoying a day of ‘bonhomie' is no longer enough for the organisations footing the bill," says Mark. "The Impeccable Host focuses on the most important aspect of the whole client entertainment process; that of the tactical skills of engaging with, and influencing, the guests who attend."
It is aimed at executives from mid-tier management through to members of the board, who regularly act as an organisation's Hosts at events, but who often self-diagnose as shy and who have little knowledge of the premium, relationship-building techniques needed for this form of intimate marketing and business development.
Together these two unique books are packed with practical considerations, not fluffy generalisations or theories, and offer techniques, insight and advice which Mark guarantees will improve results. Mark's expertise is based on 14 years as an operational manager in hotels, corporate hospitality and the conferencing and events industry;
eight years as a freelance sales and communications consultant and seven years as an author, MC, professional speaker and a trainer on the interpersonal skills of business networking, how to host corporate events professionally and profitably, and how to effectively use LinkedIn®, to professionals across various industry sectors.