Corporate Gifts- Ideas that Work

Tiger Woods has yet to swing club in this country but his appearance at the New Zealand Golf Open next year already looks certain to set new records.
Companies are feverishly seeking or creating corporate hosting opportunities around what is arguably the biggest corporate sporting draw card this country has ever seen. But who will join the elite bunch at Paraparaumu, how much they will have to pay, just what will the packages include and who will score the deals all remain unknown at this stage. The chance to see the world’s greatest golfer in his prime has caused clamour for corporate hosting which some say will outdo even major events like the America’s Cup.
Ian Fraser, managing director of Corporate Host, New Zealand’s largest hospitality company, commenting on the NZ Golf Open suggests that if corporate hosts were involved in the event there would certainly be an exciting range of packages on offer. Undoubtedly the whole hospitality market is waiting expectantly for more details but it is clear that the event will set records.
“I believe we could see level of corporate entertaining and required investment never before reached in this country. People are clamouring to take part in such prime opportunity.”
Bronwen Nelmes, sales and marketing manager for Stag Concepts, promotional products and marketing company, is rather more circumspect. She believes that while corporate golf events are normally well supported at all levels, in terms of the level of interest overall, the extent of the target market and the opportunities for corporate gifting, it would be difficult to imagine that the Golf Open could be bigger than the America’s Cup.
Fuelled by the forthcoming golf event and the next America’s Cup Challenge with several other special events and Christmas in between, hospitality companies are enjoying positive times with many reporting significant growth. But it’s not only due to major events according to John Farrell, the senior director of client strategy at Carlson Marketing Group. Farrell says that slowing economy is prime time for incentives. “Now more than ever, relationship marketing, performance improvement and incentive programmes will help corporations produce solid business results. Continued investment in programmes targeted to employees, channels and consumers results in stronger relationships with each audience and ultimately healthier bottom line.”
Organisations worldwide are learning the benefits of incentives and rewards realising that keeping staff and clients is huge priority.
Carlson’s strategy director Stephen Pye says it is noticeable today that the recognition and rewards are spread throughout an organisation where once they were retained at CEO and MD level. “All staff and those who have contributed to the relationship are recognised.
“And it isn’t always about hard benefits. Soft benefits like saying thank you and recognising people on daily basis means lot. Some people still think rewards equal big lollies but many organisations get very good mileage out of small measures – it doesn’t have to cost lot of money,” says Pye.
Taking your staff away on cruise might sound like big reward at the top end of the scale but Lance Green, of Creative Cruising, says it is becoming popular option with an increasing number of New Zealand companies. “We have just taken two different corporate incentive groups on cruises out of America – one from Sovereign Insurance and the other group of customers and suppliers for Carters – and they were very successful.
“Cruising is cost-effective way for corporate client to develop reward and know exactly the upfront cost. It’s growing market because people like the luxury of cruising but at the same time the costs often work out better than land-based product. You’ve also got people in controlled environment so they can’t go off down the road and do something else,” says Green.
New Zealanders may be embracing new ways of building relationships but old favourites remain just that – such as hosting clients at rugby match. Based on Corporate Host’s numbers, rugby remains the most popular form of corporate entertaining… fact endorsed by Karen French, commercial manager for Eden Park. French says that the bigger the match the bigger the demand and despite the 80 corporate suites at Eden Park, there’s always greater demand than space for major event.
“Corporate entertaining is important – it’s the way clients network and it is much easier to bring people to an event and build relationships in nice surroundings while watching something of interest,” says French.
Introducing “The Front Row”, new lower priced point brand at rugby stadiums, also works well, according to Ian Fraser of Corporate Host. He says new facilities at many stadiums have prompted the move, which is aimed at both blue and white collar corporates who couldn’t afford to buy hospitality. “You don’t need minimum of 10 people – two can come along and enjoy the experience, which broadens hosting for number of people,” says Fraser.
The same concept has been applied to netball and hockey, which Corporate Host moved into since Lion Nathan purchased 51 percent share of the company. Both are new forms of hospitality and proving extremely successful, said Fraser.
The hospitality industry does, however, concede that the wide range of different opportunities now available is spreading the business thinner. Nevertheless, some events always sell themselves and creative, value for money packages, or those with ample “wow factor”, win favour.
When Kathy Cunningham, of Empire Event Marketing and Media Relations, came up with ‘breakfast at Tiffany’s’ theme for Project K – the Graeme Dingle charity to benefit children at risk – function last year she optimistically set her sights on raising $100,000. In fact the event raised $120,000 inspiring Cunningham to push her target to $150,000 this year. The black tie dinner, dance and auction is prime example of hosting opportunity that gives companies chance to entertain clients while supporting worthwhile cause.
Now Cunningham’s creative juices are flowing again. “This year our theme is ‘diamonds are girl’s best friend’ and Michael Hill has donated two $3000 diamonds and 348 zircons which I will personally set in individual ice cubes. When each one of the 350 guests is given special cocktail on arrival, they have the chance to win the real thing – but they won’t know until they have the stone checked with the jeweller the next day,” says Cunningham.
Corporate hosting and entertaining provides an opportunity to be different, says Cunningham. “People are invited to things all the time and it is important to make everything from the invitation to the entertainment, enticing.”
Inviting partners is must and interactive entertainment really works. There are phases and trends which are influenced by seasons and sometimes can be budget driven. Many trends are developed in the northern hemisphere and perfected in New Zealand.
Christine Young, marketing manager for the Auckland Philharmonia, says the venue for an occasion can play significant part in selling an event. In Auckland, for instance, some groups prefer hosting corporates in the Aotea Centre rather than the Town Hall. Young says that while there is always the perception that the orchestra is an ongoing attraction, people are increasingly aware that each concert is an event in itself and picking and choosing the programmes that suit them best.
“There is such variety of concerts. If people are nervous about taking clients to classical concert then they should realise that ours are not heavy and serious but light and popular. If there’s any question about the appeal, we will talk them through it. We can put whole package together – dinner, interval drinks, supper and so on. There are all kinds of opportunities to host with the Philharmonia and it makes great change from the rugby,” says Young.
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