All Work and No Play…

By William Kendy

If you think sales meetings are always a bore, consider this: Steve Lowe, director of sales for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, believes that managers can make sales meetings exciting and fun. How? He says that spicing up meetings is a simple matter of blending meeting content with social or fun events.

“We create entertaining and interactive theme events,” says Lowe. “The idea is to create an exciting, energetic play environment where people can have fun while they learn.” According to Lowe, this doesn’t mean just having a cocktail party and a golf outing. It’s important to be creative. To that end, Lowe has orchestrated programs ranging from a “wacky” casino night, where the CEO is a blackjack dealer, to a personalized cabaret show.

“We created a Moulin Rouge theme for an insurance company, which on opening night included a ‘visit to France’ event, complete with cobblestone streets, French shops and an Eiffel tower named after the company,” says Lowe. “On the final night of the meeting, we hosted a gourmet banquet with an actual recreation of a Moulin Rouge cabaret show.”

“For another meeting, we turned our game room into an arcade. People enjoyed drinks, hors d’oeuvres and played virtual reality games. It was like being a kid again,” adds Lowe.

Concerned about the cost of such whimsy? Lowe says not to worry. “These types of events don’t have to break the bank. They can be tailored to fit any budget.”

According to Lowe, companies are missing the boat if they don’t incorporate the meeting theme into the work sessions.

“Always think in terms of your theme. If it’s the ‘magic’ of the ABC company, build everything around the theme of magic,” says Lowe. “At a work session present a five-minute introduction with a slight-of-hand magician, for example.” The key is to use the event to grab and keep your sales team’s attention so they learn, but make sure that they have a ball doing it.