What's the purpose? Austerity is still in the air and jollies are out, so consider how this can benefit your business, says Nick Hamilton, managing director of Manchester event agency Inconnection. 'Instead of speculatively booking tickets, people are being told: we have a budget - but only if you can determine what the return on investment is.'
Think the R word. Focus on building relationships, which could equally lead to sales, loyalty or closer partnerships. A day at the cricket is perfect, says Megan Collins, head of marketing at agency Paragon. 'In seven hours of face-to-face time you can learn more about your client than in any business meeting.'
Who to ask. The biggest challenge is getting the people you really want to come to attend, especially if they are senior, says Hamilton. 'People at C-level are in demand, and they have the budget to do their own thing, so the key attraction for them will be networking,' he says.
Make it personal. 'If someone senior declines, don't automatically invite their junior assistant, who may treat the event as a jolly and not help your company image,' says Marilyn Levi, of Corporate Entertainment Consultancy.
Pick carefully. Choose an event you're interested in - but only after you've sounded out your target group. 'If you offer something quite exclusive like Centre Court tickets for a Wimbledon final, it will be more of a draw because for some this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity,' says Collins. Celebrities - such as former players - can help clinch attendance.
Get the basics right. Logistics, refreshments, ticketing - all need to be ticketyboo on the day. 'Whoever is host should be given a profile on each of the guests,' says Hamilton. 'Make sure you top and tail the event to make it convenient; companies spend tens of thousands but then won't fork out £50 for a taxi.'
Talk business. Don't bash your guests' ears, but they will expect to talk a certain amount of business during the day. 'Be prepared for that "aha" moment when somebody mentions that they're building a new data centre. Ask if you can call them next week, and make a note on their business card,' says Hamilton.
Be weatherproof. Have a contingency plan in case play is rained off, such as screens set up with alternative events.
Track results. Use your CRM system, says Collins. 'As well as measuring sales uplift, it can monitor how your company is perceived, through your Net Promoter score.'
'We are hosting our most valued clients at an exclusive event where you will meet other industry leaders and enjoy front-row seats.'
'We're gonna fly you to Monaco for a slap-up Grand Prix weekend to discuss our tender.'