By Max Clarke

Corporate hospitality, in particular at major sporting events, has long been the remit of big business. With five figure sums spent on dazzling key clients, smaller businesses are simply unable to compete with their larger counterparts.

No more so will this be the case than 2012, when the world’s attention will once more focus on London with the advent of the Olympic Games. The event’s huge potential as a venue for unique and effective corporate hospitality has been recognised and hospitality packages are already being bought for sums that are almost unheard of, and certainly out of reach for the smaller business.

Rene Proske, Managing Director at international corporate hospitality firm, Proske, spoke to Fresh Business Thinking, arguing that corporate hospitality can be an effective tool for businesses of all size, and that by being more selective and targeted in their approach to hospitality, small businesses can also take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Rene believes that the planning and organisation involved in bringing the games to a city with the connections and the business environment that London has, 2012 be best games ever, both for Londoners and for businesses across the world.

“There are a wide range of opportunities for businesses looking to undertake corporate hospitality programmes at the Olympic Games," said Proske.

"At the top end, caviar and champagne events will remain popular but in this age of austerity, companies large and small will also be looking at beer and sausages hospitality. This minimises accusations that companies are being overly lavish while there is a recession on and also meets compliance, particularly following the passing of the 2010 Bribery Act in the UK. For companies that cannot afford or obtain corporate tickets, London will have plenty of Olympic events and fan zones where companies and their clients or customers can enjoy the enthusiasm and excitement that the Olympic Games produces. It’s about being creative and tailoring programmes to your funds and philosophy.”

Being selective about whom businesses invite is, Rene suggests, the key consideration smaller businesses with more limited budgets must make. With scores of businesses entertaining over the Games it is likely that many clients will have received similar invitations and that if businesses are not selective, they may waste significant sums in treating a client to the same experience they enjoyed the previous day.

Furthermore, with the prices expected to be involved, smaller businesses will be unable to entertain on the scale of the corporate. But by being thoughtful, and by selecting an event and a venue sympathetic to the business and inviting a smaller, more select group of clients, it can be possible to forge strong and lasting business relationships in a way that larger scale events cannot offer.

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