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    Many businesses hold seminars for key clients and/or prospective customers. These seminars are often used as a way to inform clients about the company and its products/services, secure new business with existing customers and generate leads.

    Each seminar will have its own unique agenda and set up depending on the objectives and target market. But whatever the goal of the seminar the guests need to be well taken care of. Whether you are aiming to generate new business, secure renewable contracts or simply inform customers about your company, each guest needs to feel special, cared for and valued. This does not necessarily mean expensive corporate gifts, it does mean that all staff attending the seminar need to be there 100% for the customers.

    The Invitation
    Before the seminar, each invite should go out as personally as possible. For key customers you may wish to personally visit or phone them to make them feel special and increase the chances of them accepting.

    The Reminder
    Close to the seminar date each guest should be reminded of the event with a pack containing transportation options, maps, the agenda, accommodation options if necessary and any other information that they might require. No one likes to get lost!

    Staff Briefing
    Even seasoned sales and customer care staff should be reminded to be alert, conscious of the guests' comfort, outgoing and polite. All staff should be well dressed as befits your company's image with tidy hair and understated jewellery and make up.

    Buddy Up
    If necessary and feasible, different members of staff can be given responsibility for certain key customers. This is especially important if the guest has an established rapport with a member of the sales team for example.

    Bare Necessities
    Make sure someone is responsible for the little things that too often get overlooked. These include tissues, extra pens and paper, water and juice, etc… Guests don't like to ask for little things, especially if it's something that might cause embarrassment so try to think of everything and make sure it's all on hand.

    Have a greater meet each of the guests as they arrive. Name badges can be handed out along with information packs. Have an extra person or two on hand at the reception area to answer questions such as, "Where's the toilet?".

    Break Times
    Make sure staff members are on hand during break times to network, mingling with the guests to make new contacts and secure existing ones. Have extra handouts and brochures on hand near the snack/drink table in case guests lost theirs or want extra copies. Set up a large monitor displaying the company's website or a purpose designed mini-site or presentation. The guests are here to learn about your company so make it worth their time.

    Silence Please
    Any staff members that sit in on the seminars should be reminded to be quiet and attentive. They may have heard the presentations many times but they need to take care not to distract the guests by talking, writing or generally moving about.

    What About Me?
    One of the most common problems is staff members chatting amongst themselves instead of actively seeking out the guests. Not all guests will approach you to talk, some are shy, others tired. Staff members need to be on the look out for the solitary guest and make a point of engaging them in conversion.

    Party Time
    Some companies include a period for entertainment be it a meal, a party or some form of sports activity. Staff members should be encouraged to enjoy themselves but to remember that they are 100% on duty. Alcohol consumption should be kept to the absolute minimum and behaviour must remain professional although relaxed. This is the guests' party, not theirs. You can always have a staff party later to celebrate the success of the seminar!

    Good Bye
    Some seminars are only an hour or so, others last several days. However short or long yours is make sure you say good bye on a positive note. Staff members must be careful not to look worn out, especially if it has been an especially long or tiring seminar. Organisation needs to be as tight at the end of the seminar as it was the moment the guests walked through the door. Your customers' last impressions are nearly as important as their first. So send them home happy.

    Follow Up
    A day or two after the seminar each guest should be sent a note thanking them for attending. Any significant leads should also be phoned to secure deals and/or grow the relationship. Hopefully each guest gave permission to be added to your company's newsletter list but don't wait for the newsletter, send each of them an information pack, product sheet or some type of communication reinforcing the content covered during the seminar.

    Guest article contributed by Conference Venues UK