Have I Got Schmooze For You: Bonding with your contacts can lead to some lucrative deals. But what is the etiquette of corporate entertaining? Greg Hughes gets busy with his expenses

Today’s the day. You’ve got lunch with Mr Big, media director of Duolever and guardian of its purse-strings. Both you and he know that your competitors are more than keen to get their mitts on his moolah.

Today’s the day. You’ve got lunch with Mr Big, media director of

Duolever and guardian of its purse-strings. Both you and he know that

your competitors are more than keen to get their mitts on his


So how best to convince him that your space is the place? Welcome to the

schmooze zone.

The schmooze in its most standard form is conducted over lunch or


Rule number one is to decide what you’re trying to get out of the


Obviously, the idea is that every lunch or dinner should cement your


However, most people agree that booking forms should be left at your


According to Nick Fawbert, sales account executive at TDI, you should

never make a sales pitch when schmoozing a client. ’If you’re taking

someone out, you’re taking them out to entertain them, not to impose the

professional world on them. This business is all about building

relationships of trust and confidence, and a key part of that is getting

to know who you’re doing business with.’

However, those higher up the pecking order may want to cut the crepe and

get straight down to cases. ’The people who tend to discuss business in

a direct way over lunch are the more senior people,’ says Fawbert.

’That’s principally because they’re very busy and have constraints on

their time.’

Jaqueline Euwe, advertisement director of Harpers & Queen, sees nothing

wrong with talking business, as long as you avoid the temptation to go

for the jugular. ’I don’t think there is anything wrong with chatting

about business over a business lunch. I would discuss ideas with

clients, although I would never go for the heavy sell.’

For Martin Corke, group sales manager on IPC’s music and sports titles,

schmoozing is a matter of quality, not quantity. ’There are a lot of

piss-takers out there. As I’ve become more senior I’ve realised that

some people are just after a free lunch, and a lot of junior agency

staff expect to be wined and dined. I encourage my sales executives to

spend money on proven clients. I now go to fewer lunches than I used to,

but I try to have them with influential people and go somewhere nice

like The Ivy.’

So how should you behave when you’re combining business with


Ask the man in the street about an advertising lunch and he’ll doubtless

describe a scenario that would make Oliver Reed blush. Everyone knows a

story about someone who got so pissed he was sick on his client’s shoes,

but does the modern-day sales person really live up to the


’Hardcore drinking was really an early 80s thing’, says Miles Lewis, ad

director of Esquire. ’That said, you do get people who want to cram in

five bottles of wine over lunch. My policy is always to stay two glasses

behind your client. That way you’re never worse than them.’

Many people have separate codes of boozing practice depending on the

time of day. TDI’s official daytime drinking ban is infamous but,

surprisingly, many employees are in favour it.

’Everyone thinks we’re slightly weird because we can’t drink at

lunchtime’, says Fawbert, ’but, to be honest, that makes us a bit

different from other media owners and anything that makes us stand out

is a good thing. Of course, it’s a different story in the evening.’

The question of whether to drink when you are lunching on company

plastic also depends on cultural factors. Mike Segrue, Poster Publicity

International’s managing director, finds that ’etiquette varies hugely

from country to country. You wouldn’t dream of ordering booze if you

were having a business lunch with a German or Italian client.’

At the end of the day, the decision is likely to be left to the person

you are trying to woo. As one sales director puts it: ’I don’t give a

monkey’s if a client is drinking petrol, as long as he’s happy.’ The

ultimate reason for being at a business lunch is to improve the business

of the company and, if you’re not doing that, there’s no reason to be


’One thing you’ve got to watch out for is what I call ’cash

marketeers’,’ says Corke. ’These guys base their careers around going

out and getting plastered on the company. You often see them when you’re

interviewing for new people. They claim to know loads of agency staff,

but when you speak to their so-called contacts and ask them what good

deals they’ve done, they can’t tell you, although they’ll insist your

candidate’s a really good bloke.’

This kind of behaviour is being clamped down on. WCRS’s finance boss

Gary Bickerton has laid down the law by introducing a rule whereby any

lunch expense claim submitted with a time on the bill of later than 3pm

will not be paid. It’s also rumoured to be last orders at More Group,

where alcohol is only allowed to make up 15 per cent of a lunch


But when it comes to paving the way to a tasty deal, lunch and dinner

dates can only get you so far. Although most schmoozing still takes

place over restaurant tables, unusual locations have gained popularity

as salespeople strive to achieve standout. Golf is a long-standing

favourite, while a newer contender is the football match (if you can

handle being accused of ruining the sport for real fans). Other

activities include everything from powerboat racing to opera, as well as

all-expenses paid trips abroad for big spenders.

While sporting entertainment seems like a good bet, bear in mind that

one of the few things you can rely on in life is Sod’s Law. One

salesman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was sure he would impress his

client when he invited him to see Manchester United play Chelsea. The

client, who was a Reds fan, had to suffer his team losing five-nil.

An alternative is to take your schmoozee to the golf course - you can

always let him win. Or at least you can if you don’t floor him with your

premature backswing, knocking out two of his teeth in the process. ’At

the time I thought it was disastrous - but he certainly never forgot

me,’ says the ad manager who survived this unfortunate incident.

Lawson Muncaster, the new director of sales at CNN International’s

London office, is a firm advocate of the golf course as bonding venue.

When he worked for Scottish Television, he met so many London media

agency types on the local courses that by the time he got a job in

London - at Eurosport - he had a ready-made list of key contacts.

’Where else but on a golf course can you spend an entire morning with

somebody, away from any distractions?’ he says. ’Of course, you can go

to the pub - but then you tend to talk bollocks.’

A vital part of the corporate schmooze is making sure you’ve invited the

right people. It’s no good setting up a brilliant event if you’ve got

the wrong guest list. An activity has to suit the participants in order

to work well.

’We tailor our events to fit a certain group, and then we invite people

who are part of that group,’ says Fawbert. ’If we are going

powerboating, instead of just inviting a particular agency, we’ll get

the young, up-for-it blokes and girls from a variety of different

companies. In the same way, the people we invite to the opera tend to be

the older or more sophisticated types.’

At the flashiest end of the entertaining spectrum are the trips


Although they are no doubt enjoyed by the invited few, such jollies can

prompt mutterings in certain camps. Overseas breaks handed out ’as a

thank you to our biggest spenders’ are dismissed by some as pointless


Many feel that this sort of schmoozing can easily escalate into a

contest to see who can spend the most.

As with all business entertaining, it seems pertinence is the key.

Corke offers some final words of wisdom: ’(Corporate jollies) have to be

relevant. It’s fine to take people on a yachting trip if you’re working

for a boating magazine. However, if you fly 20 people to New York for a

shopping weekend, someone else will fly out 30 people for a week. The

thing to remember is that someone always has a bigger expense account

than you.’


The Ivy

The Ivy is still one of the hardest places in town to get a table - even

if you’re Mike Tyson, who, according to one recent redtop revelation,

found the Maitre d’ less forthcoming than Jack Straw.

A combination of succulent grub and amiable service has ensured that The

Ivy has stayed top of the gastronomic tree for years, while its

popularity with celebrities should keep star-spotters happy.

The menu is truly international and there’s a wide range of dishes

available, so you can tuck in to bangers and mash while your client

enjoys the Sevruga caviar at pounds 48.50 for 50g.

The restaurant has a light atmosphere despite its slightly gothic


There is a main dining room and a small bar, both of which serve


But be warned: you’ll have to book approximately two months ahead to

secure a table.

1 West St, WC2 (0207 836 4751)

Covent Garden or Leicester Square tube

Lunch served noon-3pm Monday-Saturday; noon-3.30pm Sunday

Dinner served 5.30pm-midnight daily

Average price pounds 30-pounds 40 per head

Set lunch pounds 15.50, three courses (Saturday and Sunday)


For golf fans, you can’t do much better than a weekend away at the

Kildare Hotel and Country Club, the exclusive Irish golf course and home

to the 2001 Ryder Cup.

This is where Sky hosted its three-day media industry golf tournament

last year, a jaunt described by one participant as ’just like the Ryder

Cup, but at a far lower standard and with loads of booze’.

Activities other than golf include salmon, trout and coarse fishing as

well as indoor and outdoor tennis. There is also a health and beauty

centre for those who have over-indulged the night before.

The club is 23 miles from Dublin airport but if you really want to

impress, you can fly by helicopter straight into the grounds and be

greeted by a traditional Irish piper.

Winter delegate rate (per night)

from pounds 249 per person. Price includes full Irish breakfast, morning

coffee, light lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Green fees approximately pounds 40

Contact Margaret Cooney

Tel 353 (0)1-601 2700

E-mail hotel@kclub.ie

European Championships

If you prefer to enjoy your sport sitting down, this summer is the time

to take a schmooze-cruise over the channel to catch Euro 2000.

The championships kick off on 10 June with Belgium taking on Sweden.

Belgium, together with Holland, will host 31 games played at eight

locations during the championships. The final takes place on 2 July at

the Rotterdam stadium. England’s first game - against Portugal - is in

Eindhoven on 12 June.

Hospitality packages are available, featuring a champagne reception on

arrival at the ground, a complimentary bar, silver-service luncheon and

a hot post-game buffet. Also included are match programmes and

’uniformed hostesses at your service’.

Tickets available from


Tel 001-404 364 9797

New York on Concorde

If a weekend spent shopping on Fifth Avenue or strolling in Central Park

isn’t enough to impress your client, why not add the incentive of

returning home by Concorde.

Goodwood Concorde has deals offering flights out on a British Airways

747, three nights accommodation at the Plaza Hotel, and a return flight

to Heathrow on Concorde at twice the speed of sound.

The delights of the Big Apple need no introduction, but some recommended

places to eat, drink and dance include the River Cafe, Twilo, Cafeteria

and Asia de Cuba.

Price pounds 2,395 per person (supplement payable for first or club

class upgrade on 747)

Contact Goodwood Travel

Tel 01227-763 336

Fax 01227-762 417

E-mail: goodwood@concorde.co.uk.


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