Engagement with premium seat holders is a formal and high-end process. But is it all that’s required to retain our best customers?
We wine and dine our premium prospects. We sell our prime real estate to them. They “move in”, and we visit them during the season and invite them to some events our team hosts. During the holidays, we send them a gift.
Then six months before the lease is up, and it’s renewal time, we try to reengage that wine and dine relationship. In most instances, we take gifts to premium clients, discuss their contracts, and find what is wrong or right with the relationship. We go back with a projected estimate of renewing their lease.
It’s a formal and high-end process. But is it all that’s required?
Creating numerous and consistent touch points throughout the year keeps relationships alive and healthy. To engage with premium clients, it all starts with the day the sale starts.
Prior to the sale, we build the relationship. Once we make the sale, the real work should begin, and we must be able to address all of the following questions: Do we know if the client is using their hospitality area successfully? Are they getting a return on their investment? Do we know if they have someone of importance coming each night and how we could help make an even greater impact? Are we checking in, in person, at least monthly out of season and at or after each game seasonally? Are we creating unique experiences for them in season in their areas? Do we provide traditional or unique gifts? How much do we know about them personally? Do we create an opportunity to “wow” them?
Let’s look closer at engaging our premium client.
Do we know if the client is using their hospitality area successfully? Are they getting a return on their investment?
Upon selling the area to the client, did we find out what their needs were? Did we educate them and give them options for how to best fill those needs when using it? Have we shown them how to measure success? Are we working with someone directly to measure that success? Other than visiting the area, do we check in with them monthly to see what the outcome is and if they are, in fact, successful?
If there is a problem, we should be on it immediately. Staying on top of problems and helping the client maximize their usage is key to a renewal down the road. It’s a little late to attempt to help them maximize their purchase with six months left on a lease.
Do we know if they have someone of importance coming each night and how we could help make an even greater impact?
Will a prime prospect, high-ranking official, or current client be in attendance? Are they celebrating a special occasion for someone? From a balloon bouquet, to a cake, to pregame recognition, to a former player visiting their hospitality area, there’s a myriad of ways to make an impact. Knowing ahead of time enables us to create a simple “wow” moment that will be deeply appreciated and remembered forever.
Are we checking in, in person, at least monthly out of season and at or after each game seasonally?
In order to get to a 90% – 95% renewal rate, we need to have in-person touch points, both in and out of season. During the season is not as hard, but what do we do out of season?
Creating events for all hospitality owners is one way, but what are we doing individually to express that we care? Do we bring the mascot to deliver a gift or donuts or bagels for all and create excitement in the office? Do we drop off tickets (or join them) for their family to an event that they might like? Do we bring them lunch in the office or go to lunch with them? I had one rep that knew his client loved homemade pies, so he would deliver a pie each month to them.
What are some unique gifts?
We give autographed items, fancy wines and wine cases, etc. These “things” are nice, but oftentimes are given away. So what is personal and engaging?
I found one of the most favored gifts by clients was a digital photo album for their desks in which we had taken pictures throughout the year in their hospitality area. Pictures that celebrated birthdays, potential clients, celebrations, “wow” moments, etc. Each image told its own story every time the client looked at it. He shared that it was a constant reminder of the great experiences he was fortunate enough to give to his prospects, clients, and staff.
How much do we know about them personally? Do we create an opportunity to “wow” them?
When consulting at Madison Square Garden, then Director Lisa Banbury Vogel helped the staff members learn what a “wow” moment could be. They were assigned a colleague at the Garden that they were to “wow”. To do so, they had to learn things about that colleague that they didn’t know and create a total surprise for them. That assignment led to being able to find out about their premium clients and wowing them.
For example, a rep learned that his client was sad he missed so many dinners with his family because of work, so he created a “wow” moment by scheduling a lunch meeting at the office. Instead of being the person the client was meeting with, he brought in a complete catered lunch, along with the client’s wife and kids for an hour and a half of uninterrupted time with them. The client was so touched by such an emotional and memorable “wow” moment.
From finding a client was a standout athlete in high school, which can lead to letting them do some drills on an off day, to the lead in the school play, which the community’s Broadway theatre is performing with a chance to meet the cast after, there’s always something unique we can do if we simply learn more about them.
Engaging the premium client throughout their tenure with us is key to keeping the relationship alive and healthy. Numerous touch points are necessary. Being there for them when they have needs in their hospitality area is not only desirable, it’s required. Being there for them all year, each month, in unique ways is healthy relationship building.
Kathy Burrows is the President and Owner of Sold Out Seating.