Once of the elements of meetings and conventions that captures the imagination of attendees is the notion of "swag" - free stuff, often useful and sometimes expensive, given out as gifts or promotions. Hardened industry veterans of a thousand press conferences will drop their air of experience and claw through a crowd for a free tote bag; there's just something appealing about free stuff.
Holding a golf event can be a terrific way to combine business and pleasure for your company’s own staff or for your clients and customers. Because 18 holes of golf takes about four hours, golf makes a great foundation for an all-day meeting format. Participants get to enjoy a round of their favorite game, while there’s still plenty of time to take care of business. Here are some tips on planning your golf event to get the most out of it.
Business or Pleasure?
Is your event going to be a substantial business meeting with some golf thrown in, or a golf game accompanied by some business? Most courses will accommodate a large event with either an 8:30 AM tee time, or a 1:00 PM start. Paradoxically, if your meeting is intended to be more business-oriented, you should get the golfing done first: golf in the morning, lunch and the meat of the day in the afternoon. That way, participants aren’t yearning to fast-forward through the business to get to the golf. For a lighter, more recreational event, have your business events in the morning and then let folks head to the links.
Know the Numbers, Know the Players
Beware the course sales executive who tells you that her facility can easily handle 144 golfers a day. It can, but at the cost of long delays and a lagging play experience that will leave golfers grumbling. To keep the pace smooth, a limit of 72 or 108 golfers (18 or 27 foursomes) should be observed. In addition, if your event is intended to foster a lot of company-to-client interaction, you will want a company representative in each foursome, so plan your guest count accordingly. In addition, realize that individual golf skill will vary widely, and highly-skilled players will not have much fun if paired up with duffers. Query your invitees about their skill level (“novice”, “intermediate” and “expert” should be sufficiently granular) and try to match foursomes accordingly.
Food and Drink: Fancy or Functional?
The catering budget for an all-day golf event can go up like a skyrocket if you let it. If your company is intending to present an affluent, lavish image this might not be a problem, but most organizers will want to keep the budget low where possible. Consult with the facilities staff at the club to find the most economical arrangements; breakfast buffets and boxed lunches are one good way to shave the food budget. Most courses will gladly provide water or soft drinks on a pay-for-consumption basis, so these items can be offered to guests without having to buy a fixed amount up front. Finally, it’s a good idea to check with your company’s executives to find out what clubs they already belong to. Many courses will give steep discounts (and not just on food) to events hosted by their own members, and you can leverage your people’s connections to keep the company’s costs down.
Exhibits at trade shows are a strange breed. The best spots generally go to companies who have long track records for exhibiting at the show. Frequently these are not only premium floor placements but also the larger exhibits. So what's a first time exhibitor to do when you're stuck in a less than desireable spot, can't afford a mega-booth and need to make contact with attendees? The answer is promote, promote, promote your presence in advance. Think about it: the average trade show attendee doesn't know that space 2301 is a less desirable space than 231--or vice versa, depending on the hall. Before the show, the trade show is an even playing field. Create social media buzz before the show opens; social media, for all we hear about it, requires work but little cash outlay. Create a special e-newsletter to send to clients and prospects that are already in your data base, and if show management has captured pre-registration email contacts, the value of that list is definitely worth whatever the price.Get on the phone and call hot prospects or people you certainly wish to see at the show. Even if you leave a well-scripted voice mail message, you are raising awareness. Consider spending the money on a 'room drop'--a special invitation delivered directly to attendees' hotel rooms. There are many ways to connect before the show that are only limited by your imagination!