By René Proske, Managing Director, PROSKE group

The recession has affected all aspects of society, not least businesses large and small.

The era of decadence that we enjoyed at the turn of the new Millennium seems to be well and truly behind us.

So it would appear inappropriate for companies to spend lavish amounts on corporate hospitality at a time when they may have to be making people redundant or cutting prices to remain competitive.

The nature of business thesedays has changed dramatically since the arrival of technology that provides for everything from cheaper telecommunications, documents travelling to the other side of the world by email at the touch of a button and the advance of video and conference calling.

But that cannot hide the fact that personal interaction is at the heart of good business and that is why companies of all shapes and sizes still come to us seeking corporate hospitality support.

As a small to medium sized business, there are many ways to still reap the benefits of corporate hospitality without spending large amounts of money. Champagne and caviar options are being replaced by beer and sausage.

For events such as the London 2012 Olympic Games next summer, you don’t even have to spend on corporate packages in order to be able to make tailor a great day out for you and your clients.

Events such as the marathon and the cycling events take place along such long courses that setting up base along the route. That can be in the form of hiring one of the hospitality double decker Routemaster buses that are used at horse-racing events and provide both transport and an informal catering environment or securing tables at a restaurant with a balcony or porch which looks out on the competitors as they go past.

While demand for most Olympic events has been high, rights holders and event organisers for other sports events may lower their prices to ensure supply meets demand — there is nothing worse than blocks of empty seats at prestigious events.

The upside is that corporate hospitality is now more accessible to organisations who may not previously have considered it from a financial point of view.

Hospitality is still a popular marketing and business development tool and brings proven long term benefits if it is managed well. At its best, it helps to sustain and grow business and enhance reputation in ways that go beyond the tangible investment.

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