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How to navigate corporate hospitality in the regulatory environment?

Gone are the days of buttering up the Head of Department in a financial institution to sign off on some corporate hospitality tickets to football/rugby/cricket etc because “we want to keep this guy sweet”.  Corporate entertainment has taken on new levels of responsibility in the increased regulatory environment.  With that now comes a real duty to deliver measureable, profitable growth from the hospitality investment made.

Corporate hospitality of yesteryear was deemed a success if everyone had a jolly good time and a roaring hangover to boot.  This ethos has now been altered.  The reasons for that are two fold:

1) That little thing called The Bribery Act [1].  Made law in 2010 it has changed, and continues to remodel the parameters in which corporates can entertain potential, and existing, clients.  As Criminal Law, Compliance departments understandably monitor its enforcement with rigour.  Ignorance is not an excuse.

2) Marketing budgets post 2010’s recession are now under greater scrutiny to deliver versus tangible objectives.  Entertainment budgets are based on true strategic objectives, and are duty bound to deliver on those goals.  Thus, a comprehensive approach must be devised and implemented to assess the impact of the marketing investment and measure hospitality ROI.

Technology can assist in the quest to demonstrate clearly measurable results of brand partnership activations, hospitality and events.   Often we find the rigour of the system, and it’s output capability is put under greatest scrutiny in the pitch process.

Our Financial Services clients, governed by their procurement and compliance policies, now rely upon our web based tool to manage their assets effectively.  Every request for use of a sponsorship asset/ticket and hospitality must be entered into the system accompanied by a business justification for its usage.  Once the business case has been registered the request then filters to the next layer of approval, namely the Business Head or Compliance Lead.  Once considered, the order is confirmed, denied or a request for further information sought.  Business justification takes on both quantitative and qualitative information and will be monitored throughout the various ‘touch points’ of the guest journey.  At the end of the guest experience the original business reason is then called back into play in order that asset use measurement can be gauged and a true hospitality ROI tracked.

In addition to these key Bribery Act compliance attributes, the system also offers reporting and communications.  Key business information can be emailed to the guest in advance offering further brand exposure/education, an event specific App devised that offers guests useful information, brand education, and on the spot in-event feedback.   In addition the reporting can flag, for example, if the same guest has been invited to more than one event, ensuring that inventory is effectively used to maximise exposure and return and to make sure the same old faces aren’t benefiting from the hospitality experience.

In summary, now that hospitality engagement with key clients and prospects can no longer be judged on the extent of the fuzzy head the next day real measurement techniques need to be employed to demonstrate quantifiable return.  The good news is with a robust system, the help of technology, a truly on brand immersive experience and a clear understanding of the rules of engagement this can be delivered.