In today's global marketplace, chances are excellent that at some point, you'll be visited by an existing or prospective customer from out of town. The impression you make will be indelible, and how good it is will depend on how well you plan.
Whether or not you're paying for their accommodations, check out the hotel carefully, says David M. Colter, vice president of finance for General Alum & Chemical Corp. in Holland, Ohio. Be sure it offers all the necessary and appropriate amenities--including shuttle service to the airport.
Be prepared to play the role of host for the entire time your visitors are in town--not just when they're in your office. To find out what they want and expect from you in terms of after-work entertainment, the best approach is to simply ask, says Colter. Be prepared to make some suggestions about local attractions or events.
Although business travelers occasionally bring along spouses and family members, Colter says its unlikely they'll expect you to provide entertainment for them as well--but in case they bring it up, be prepared.
The key to successful entertaining is moderation, says Colter. "Don't scrimp and look cheap," he says, "but don't be so extravagant that the customer questions your ability to make good decisions."