Host Your Client in This 4 Unexpected Places!

When you’re hosting a client meeting and trying to land a new account, shouldn’t you be doing your best? You should approach every meeting like you’re trying to court a beautiful man or woman who you have had your eye on for months. In other words, anything less than impressive just won’t do.

There’s nothing wrong with a lunch date at the cafe down the street or a coffee meeting at Starbucks, but is there really anything about those choices that will impress your client?

Lunch and coffee meetings are safe and easy. They require very little planning and virtually no risk. However, if you want to do something a bit more impactful, try hosting your next big client meeting at one of these destinations:

Whale watching. The key to hosting a memorable client meeting is to put yourself in a unique surrounding that offers easy entertainment, while also allowing you to converse privately among yourselves. Can you think of a better place than a whale-watching boat?

Most whale-watching trips go for about two to four hours, a very good time frame for a follow-up meeting in which you can discuss business details or to present a proposal. Find a table on the top deck of the boat, watch the whales, and then get down to business. While there will inevitably be a few distractions, this is a good thing—small breaks in conversation can relieve pressure and provide common ground.

When your client (or prospective client) goes back to the office and weighs your proposal versus the myriad of other proposals they’ve received in coffee shops and diners, which one do you think will stand out? Probably the one that happened during a breathtaking whale-watching excursion.

Golf. While not quite as exotic or unique as whale watching, a day on the golf course is different enough to produce positive results. The great thing about a golf course meeting is that it’s low-stress. You and your client are both focused on your golf game, get the opportunity to make small talk, and can talk business here and there.

The key is to let conversations come naturally—don’t start talking business in the first tee box. In fact, it’s a good rule of thumb to not even bring up business on the first nine, if possible. Wait until you make the turn, and then bring up topics you want to discuss. This allows you to build some credibility and shows this isn’t just a sales call.

If you need more time after the round finishes to discuss details without distraction, grab a drink at the clubhouse and have some intentional conversation. Do be aware of time, though. Eighteen holes of golf can take a few hours to play and you don’t want to hold your client up for another hour if they need to get back to the office.

Rented office. Did you know that you can rent luxury offices in most cities for a few hours–or even a full day? If you work out of a smaller office, or even out of your home, and want to make a good impression on a big client, try finding an executive meeting space.

Depending on the company you work with, it can put up your company signage, print off materials, provide an assistant, and even bring in fresh flowers. The client won’t ever have to know that this isn’t your full-time office. However, the goal here isn’t to deceive them. It’s to show them that you’re successful and serious about their business! Sometimes getting out of your office and moving to a new location for the day can help with this.

Hands-on class. There’s something super effective about finding common ground with a client and working together to solve a problem, create something, or accomplish a task. And while this tends to happen in the context of business-client relationships, you can accelerate the process by having some sort of objective in the meeting itself.

Many professionals have reported positive results from having meetings at hands-on classes involving things like cooking, pottery, painting, woodworking, and more. The beauty of these classes is that you’re both learning a skill that most likely isn’t in your repertoire. As a result, you’re having to help each other along and you get to see a finished product at the end of the class. Ideally, this gives the client an idea of how you work through problems and can be a catalyst for more relevant conversations.

Which Will You Try?

Will it be a Hyatt or Serena ? A cheeseburger with fries or a frothy beer on the 10th green? Some meetings are best reserved for coffee shops and cafes, but go out on a limb every now and then and host your client in a totally unexpected place.