Golfing in the rain. Priceless.

March 15, 2010 at 1:13 pm 3 comments

by Mike

Greens fees for two at ritzy golf course: $360
Golf club rentals: $100
Lunch at the clubhouse: $55

Entertaining a client on the rainiest day of the year and letting him finish the round after one hole with a score of 1-under par. PRICELESS.

You’re probably thinking, “$515 to entertain a client in these tough economic times?” That’s right.  Even a stickler like Tony D will back me on this one. The shared experience I had with this valuable partner (even during a torrential downpour) will be mutually beneficial to both our companies for years to come. Whether or not you are not investing in your client, partner, and employee relationships, your competitors are.

Client entertainment still remains one of the travel industry’s dirty little secrets. Everyone does it, but no one wants to discuss it, and more importantly, few manage it properly.

Last week I met with Eric Holzheimer, founder and president of Global Sports Access (GSA), a company that specializes in meetings, incentives and event tickets. He shared with me that entertainment spending, the “E” in T&E, is only down between 5-15% over the past few years. I wasn’t completely shocked, but I was a little surprised by this stat.

In fact, GSA recently secured a $70,000 Super Bowl package for one of our customers who was thrilled with the outcome.  As a result, our TMC partner made a sizeable commission on the deal, and I’m not talking about a few transaction fees on some airline tickets. The commission represented a significant percentage of the net revenue this client generates for the TMC on an annual basis.

I’m certain that there are more of these opportunities out there for all of us. The client gets a true value and peace of mind by using their trusted supplier, while the TMC gets appropriately compensated.  What a great model.

I know that many companies are looking for packages to these events. It’s not just about tickets; it’s also about lodging, transportation, dining, and other logistics. What kind of a company excels at organizing these types of events? You guessed it, a TMC. If you are a TMC, I encourage you to ask your clients about their meetings and incentives plans for the year. On the flip side, if you are a corporate executive looking to plan an event, I urge you to speak with your TMC.

After all, if it’s not PRICELESS, then you’re not getting your money’s worth.

UPDATE: After Tiger’s big announcement, is your company looking to entertain clients at The Masters this year?  Maybe GSA can help you out with a ticket package.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tim  |  March 16, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Dear Mike and Tony, thanks for the forum because I too carry a lot of baggage — about 250,000 traveled miles a year for more than 20 years.

    I am one of those end-users that all of you are talking about in many of your newsletters, blogs, tweets, and forums. My job is to convert “priceless” customer time into both top and bottom line for my company.

    I double dog dare any of the bureaucratic, pencil-pushing, desk-jockey’s (and I mean that in a good way) in HR, procurement, or administration to go on the road with me for 1-month.

    A single week-long trip would not be sufficient, as the novelty of travel tends to wear off after a few weeks with delays, TSA personnel, or back-to-back 6am/redeye flights, hotels that will not assign you a room because they were full last night, lost bags, etc. all begin to take their toll.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE MY JOB AND LOVE TO TRAVEL — but, I think that those in isolation make policy based on people=cost, instead of people are an asset — not a resource.

    This brings me to why I’m so keenly interested in today’s topic.

    While I understand that “they” can not give me a Black AMEX and tell me no limits, I think the “dirty little secret” that they all count on to pay their salaries needs to be brought to the forefront, have assigned purchase and allocation parameters established, and be part of management metrics just like marketing and advertising.

    I say this because the knife cuts both ways — if the people that interface with customers are not constantly spending money building relationships outside of the office, then your customer pipeline assigned to that individual is much more subject to attrition and the company is ultimately at risk for those accounts.

    I love the old saying: “you’ve got to spend money to make money”

    I’ll add — regardless of the economic times, climate, or conditions. And, you can not control or manage it, if you do not measure it.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.


    • 2. Tony D'Astolfo  |  March 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm


      Great riff and thanks to taking the time.

      There has been a lot of chatter in the industry about the ROI of travel and it sounds like more companies are starting to measure the impact travel has on the bottom line.

      When my kids were younger and they saw me leaving for work they would ask “Daddy, do you have to take your shoes off today?”, because they knew that a “yes” meant it would likely be a few days before they saw me again, so let’s not forget the personal impact that logging 250,000 miles a year has either.

      I like to ask those we do business with how much they travel and often get the response “not much”, which is telling because building or managing a travel program, is a lot different than “living” a travel program. And I say that with the utmost respect for what they do because I know it’s not easy, but neither is life on the road.

      As to expenses I agree you have to spend a buck, hopefully to make five, and as anyone who has worked for me knows, my motto is “cheap and cheerful” when it comes to that.
      And that has never stopped Mike D who is our company’s CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) from making it work.

      Safe travels, and see you on the road!!


  • 3. George  |  March 17, 2010 at 6:54 am

    If facing Mother Nature’s wrath of torrential downpour, hail and lightning while huddling under a tree with your business partner doesn’t build a lasting business relationship, I don’t know what does!

    Faced with fire and brimstone while arguably shooting the round of my life (as much as one hole can be an indication of that) combined with thoughts of “I could break the club record” and voices in my head distinctly telling me “I don’t think the heavy stuff will come down for a while”, I was forced to make a fight-or-flight determination. Though a difficult decision to make, given the circumstances, it was soon reinforced by the mass exodus of water-logged golfers not fortunate enough to have the aforementioned huge tree as refuge…so we reluctantly called it quits.

    While subsequently reflecting on the day, I forcibly convinced myself that the wheels would’ve come off, eventually plunging me into double-bogey purgatory or that it would’ve been terribly difficult to locate my thunderous drives when camouflaged amidst copious quantities of golf-ball sized hail. Thus it was that I made my peace with the failed outing, eventually realizing that there is NO WAY that I could’ve similarly experienced this sort of professional bonding via web conference! Additionally, there is the everlasting comfort in the fact that I can honestly say I finished my round at 1 under…

    More importantly though, the targeted business sessions before and after this debacle were validated by the personal and professional interaction with Mike and his team as the on-site visit allowed us to pull in resources as needed during the course of our meetings. With the face-to-face interaction as well as the ability to put a face to a name, we were undoubtedly able to accomplish far more during our time together and genuinely solidify a mutually beneficial long term bond. Furthermore, I contend that there truly is no way to fully experience the intensity, passion and sincerity of Patrick Grady unless you are seated directly across from him!

    I can’t imagine that there is a better definition of “priceless” in today’s business economy, so the cost of a plane ticket and a round of golf are indeed small prices to pay!

    Incidentally Tony…the round was refunded so not only do I deserve a rain-check to recreate my mastery of the links but I highly encourage you to double-check Mike’s ExpenseWire report to confirm that fact….


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