The Art of Corporate Entertaining

Corporate entertaining is about more than a round of golf at the local country club.  It’s about innovating, inspiring, and offering one-of-a-kind experiences that say “Look at us.  We’re different.”  That’s why more and more businesses reinforce their brand by associating with people and products that exude similar qualities.

Whether you’re prospecting new clients or thanking employees for their hard work, the old adage of mixing business with pleasure is as valid today as it was 50 years ago.  But not everyone is savvy enough to consider using the performing arts as an innovative tool in their sales and marketing arsenal.

As a hub of culture and creativity, Michigan’s capital region is ripe with opportunities to mix the arts with corporate entertaining.  All it takes is a keen eye and a willingness to try something new.   Take, for example, Wharton Center’s recently announced 2006-07 season line-up, which is packed with star power and world-class attractions from Broadway blockbusters to classical masterworks to programming for the entire family.   On the surface, an evening at Wharton Center may seem like nothing more than a leisurely outing with family and friends, but behind the scenes it’s all business.  At every performance, local businesspeople just like you are mixing and mingling with clients and colleagues under that the guise of entertainment interlaced with savvy schmoozing, carefully-crafted sales pitches, and employee retention strategies.

Imagine for a moment trying to close the deal with Mr. Smith, president of a multi-million dollar company.  What’s more memorable – another round of golf, or an intimate reception for Mr. Smith, his wife, kids and colleagues before a performance of the Broadway mega-hit Wicked, a laugh-out-loud evening with Lily Tomlin or an elegant evening with the London Philharmonic Orchestra?  And imagine how impressed your clients will be when you’re able to entertain them at hottest sold-out shows, like many businesses did for the recent run of The Lion King.

The modern businessperson is looking for ways to balance work and family life in creative ways.  Utilizing the performing arts as a sales tool lets you enjoy your time away from the office while fulfilling your corporate obligations to make the sale and set yourself apart.

Wharton Center prides itself on accommodating the most discriminating tastes with flexible spaces and on-site catering options.  Plus group buyers get some of the best seats to the hottest shows before the general public and discounts of up to 10 percent to most shows.

Highlights from the 2006-07 season include a Broadway line-up featuring the mega-musical Wicked, Pippin, Legends starring Linda Evans and Joan Collins, All Shook Up, Sweet Charity with Molly Ringwald, RENT, Jesus Christ Superstar, and everyone’s favorite Mamma Mia! Dance and classical presentations include the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Audra McDonald, the Joffrey Ballet, and the return of Michigan Opera Theatre.  Contemporary jazz and vocal performances featuring Emmylou Harris, CeCe Winans, Branford Marsalis, and family programming like Barbie Live in Fairytopia, AntiGravity, and Where the Wild Things Are.  Choose from over 60 world-class attractions in all.

To learn more about incorporating the arts into your corporate entertaining or to receive an invitation to Wharton Center group sales preview event, call 517-353-1982, ext. 122.

Kent A. Love, APR is the director of communications for the Wharton Center for Performing Arts at Michigan State University.








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