Taking excellent care of your out-of-town clients when they’re on your turf is vitally important to the business relationship. While we could sum up the entire philosophy of how to host them with the age-old adage of ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’, it can be helpful to have a few concrete ideas, which is what we’re serving up below.
So here are eight simple but important guidelines on how to ensure your out-of-town clients enjoy their trip and return home with a good report of both you and your company…
Ask about preferences and requirements
Once the visit has been confirmed, straight up ask the client if they have any accommodation and dietary preferences, and if there is anything in particular they would like to do while in your neighbourhood. If putting them up near the beachfront will add to their overall enjoyment of the visit, then why not make that happen?
Moreover, some folks cannot stand traffic sounds at night, others have dietary restrictions that matter greatly to them, and still others might have a tourist attraction in mind that would make the trip truly memorable for them. It’s better to know these things ahead of time and make the necessary plans around them. No one has ever been annoyed by the fraction of time taken to inform another of their specific likes and dislikes.
Plan good transport
Do you really want to impress your client? Why not send a limo or other such smart car to fetch them from the airport? Not only do you save them the hassle of going through rental car queues and forms, but those who have flown a long way will really appreciate the opportunity to stretch out and have a drink.
Make sure of course that the car is already waiting for them – having to stand on the pavement waiting for a car is teeth-grindingly annoying. Or if they’re going to get a rental, ensure that everything with the rental company is 100% organised, and then phone that morning to confirm.
Choose a GOOD hotel
When you fetch a client from the hotel, do you want the one who’s raving about the excellent furnishings and service, or the one who had a bad night’s sleep and so is grumpy and secretly wondering why you’d stick them in such a dump?
One of the best ways to tell your clients that you value them without actually saying the words is to provide them with really great accommodation. To do this, scout out the hotel before you book it – don’t rely on the recommendation of others, as their standards may not be your standards.
Be organised and relaxed
Guideline number four: be organised and relaxed. With out-of-town clients, you’re the host, and it’s good if you think in terms of an old-fashioned hostess welcoming people into her home. If you appear in control, prepared and at ease, they will feel confident that you have been anticipating their visit and have made the necessary provisions and preparations. You don’t want them to feel they’re a burden, an afterthought, or that the trip is a waste of time and money. Spend some time thinking about how you will manage their time with you to make it seamless and relaxed. On that note, be friendly.
Make sure things are not so rushed that there’s no time for the personal element in your interactions with the client. You can take your cue from them as to whether they want to engage more or less on a personal level, but remember that you ideally want the client to like you as a person, so make an effort to get to know them. At the end of the day folks prefer to do business with those they find amiable.
Brief the entire staff
When the whole company is oriented towards being friendly and looking after a client, that client will feel truly valued. Brief everyone about the pending visitor, that way you won’t have staff members walking past the client with blank stares, or acting or speaking rudely!
Plan a welcome package
You might want to prepare a welcome package for your guest, as this is another unspoken message that you’ve been anticipating their visit and that you value them. You could include company swag, edibles, and local area tourist pamphlets.
Plan some after-hour entertainment
You could even plan after-hours entertainment to offer your out-of-town clients. They don’t have to take you up on the offer if they’d prefer to chill at the hotel, but they will appreciate the thought nonetheless. Think about sport matches, shows, shopping options, scenic spots, and other tourist attractions…
Do of course consider the culture of your client though so that you won’t suggest activities that are counter to that person’s tastes and beliefs. Offering clients some distinct recreational options will show that you’ve spent time thinking about and planning for their whole trip.
When hosting out-of-town business clients, you want the visit to enhance the business relationship in every possible way. If you follow the above guidelines, we’re confident that you’ll do just that!