The changing face of hospitality

The business of hospitality is an established and acknowledged form of building relationships for companies. But as companies and industries change, does the nature of the hospitality experience change with them? And how do hospitality providers cope with this change?

We caught up with Andy Vinsen, MD of corporate hospitality provider Keith Prowse (pictured), to get his thoughts and find out what the next chapter for business entertaining holds. 

“Since the introduction of the Bribery Act and the changing economic landscape, we have become aware of a shift in how, who and why premium experiences are purchased,” says Vinsen. “The advent of the Bribery Act has also had a positive impact on our business in that compliance departments will only acknowledge a bona fide supply chain.

“Increasingly termed ‘face to face marketing’, entertaining at key occasions continues to be used to cement client relationships or to reward and recognise a job well done by an employee or influencer: the demand continues to grow while the demographic of purchaser and guest is evolving. 

“Even the most cursory of glances at our website shows a very solid state of play with ‘Sold Out’ or ‘Selling Fast’ labelled on numerous dates across our events. As the officially appointed, and in many cases, sole hospitality supplier, our year-on-year web traffic has increased since 2014, this is reflected in our conversion of enquiries too as we see an emergence of clients in a broader range of industries than before, including FinTech.”

And these new audiences are purchasing hospitality differently, says Vinsen.

“While more established companies book well in advance, the new online economy books with a much shorter lead time and in more intimate groups,” he says. “It’s all about the experience. To respond to these expanding guest types, we have created a greater diversity of tiered packages and price points, and in cases transformed formal seating arrangements into more casual dining and live experiences.

“With organisations far more readily purchasing online and through mobile browsing, it means that we have evolved to real-time transactions of inventory. Not only does this help companies with their procurement and accounting process it also helps create a more secure experience for the budget holder, host and guest. Automation has also helped with far greater transparency, including the provision of guest data. This helps the host know who has been entertained and more importantly ensures that events where the tickets are ‘non-transferable’ remain so.”   

But while compliance has undoubtedly resulted in tighter constraints on business entertainment spend, Vinsen still believes the need to be ‘face to face’ remains a major business factor.

“This new generation has differing needs, and today’s guest is far more conscious of the environment and the wider community,” he says. “It comes as a great surprise to many that the investment and revenue generated through business entertaining is heavily reinvested into grass roots sports.  

“We’ve adapted and embraced the changes to the evolving market; the one thing that’s not changed is that an average day’s hospitality still equates to 7.5 hours of face-to-face time. A valuable asset to develop any client and stakeholder relationships.”