The holidays are coming up! That means NOW is the time to start planning your holiday client appreciation party. And today’s blog is here to help!
No matter where you’re from or what you believe in, the end of the year is a time for being with the people who are important to you, giving back to the community, and celebrating together. For real estate agents, it’s an opportunity to leverage this energy to spread some love to your clients – particularly in the form of a holiday client appreciation party.
I know, I know, I know… October has just started, but the planning and preparation need to begin RIGHT NOW, especially if you haven’t thrown one before.
As I always say, there’s no better way to learn to do something than by observing and replicating (or ripping off and duplicating) someone who is already doing it at a masterful level. In this regard, allow me to introduce you to one of our coaching members, Donna Molet, a Rockstar agent from Leominster, Massachusetts.
Last year, Donna shared her strategy for planning her holiday party in a post in one of our private Facebook Groups. Since this is such a powerful way to not only obtain referrals but spread goodwill and optimism during this time, Donna has actually agreed to share her strategy with you.
For a glimpse into just how special her holiday party is, just check out this video recap of her 2022 party:
In this blog, I’ll be covering some of the strategy and philosophy behind Donna’s party, so you can show your clients the love they deserve during this critical point of the year. Whether you want to follow her strategy to the T or simply use it as inspiration to create your own party, it’s up to you.
Let’s dive right in…
Holiday Client Appreciation Party Tip No. 1: Provide a Memorable Experience
Hosting a holiday client appreciation party at your office is a kind and thoughtful thing to do, but it doesn’t exactly scream “memorable experience!” And while hosting a holiday movie screening is a fun and popular idea, Donna believes it doesn’t allow you the opportunity to talk and connect with the people who are there to see you.
For her, it’s all about leaving a lasting impression; that’s why her parties always take place at a unique location which provides an experience that her clients can’t get anywhere else.
“Your holiday party is about rewarding your clients for being a part of your business and your life,” Donna says. “Come up with something that’s actually going to reward them.”
Her’s takes place at the botanical garden in her area, which hosts a magnificent holiday lights display every year. The experience is open to the public, but tickets sell out quickly, and that’s why Donna works with the venue to arrange her party and secure a block of tickets ahead of time.
By hosting her party here, she’s offering them free access to a sought-after experience they would’ve otherwise missed or had to pay for. “People may want to come and hang out with me a little, but they REALLY want to get access to this venue.”
Start thinking about what experiences are available in your area that you could take advantage of. If you live in Orlando, Disney could be an obvious location but not entirely necessary. You might be surprised what treasures your city or town hold once you start looking for them. What local events could you take advantage of?
But note here that I (and Donna) say “holiday” and not just Christmas. To ensure everyone feels included, you may opt to choose or hold a religion-neutral “holiday” event. Of course, that decision is up to you and what best fits your clientele.
Holiday Client Appreciation Party Tip No. 2: Consider the Space
As we’ve already covered, the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill’s “Night Lights: Starry Skies” event sells out almost every night from November 25-December 31.
A full house is about 500 people, and on the night of Donna’s client appreciation holiday party, about 80 of that night’s attendees are with her party. This requires her to get the tickets two months in advance, as soon as they become available.
As you can probably guess, this is only the beginning of her logistical planning. For the past two years, her event has been open to all past and current clients, with invitations that allow them to request as many tickets as they’d like. RSVPs are required of course, but if someone wants to request six tickets to bring all their children and other members of their family, this is allowed (though not ideal considering the 80-person cap).
80 tickets at about $30 a piece is just the beginning of her expenses, as she also rents a function room to house her gathering and then arrange for catering. This is not a cheap event – with catering and everything, it cost her about $8,500 – but for Donna it’s more than worth it as it allows her to build lasting bonds with the people in attendance. In a brilliant move, she also co-shared these expenses with the lender, closing attorney, and a moving pod company.
Holiday Client Appreciation Party Tip No. 3: Get a Greeter
Because her party is held in partly the same space as the public event, it could be relatively hard to get into. There is a reception area set up at the front where Donna’s party guests meet and greet for a while before being escorted to the function room.
During this time, they’re also given blinking green and red neon bands to wear around their necks – which she orders in advance. This distinguishes members of her party from the general public, allowing them to get together and meet each other. These bands are also useful for keeping people together while they’re walking around in the dark to see the lights.
One thing that Donna did last year which she plans to change this year is that she stood at the reception area and greeted everyone herself. Doing this allowed her to speak directly with clients when they arrived, but it also cost her a lot of time waiting which would’ve been better spent mingling in the main room. Because she lost so much facetime at her own party, she plans to hire a greeter this year.
Holiday Client Appreciation Party Tip No. 4: Think About Food
You don’t need to provide a four-course dinner or lavish entrees to have a successful party. All you need is a variety of carefully selected appetizers – with “carefully selected” being the key phrase here.
Donna’s holiday party is geared towards families, which means that so is her catering. She suggests considering the tastes of both kids and adults. Grownups can enjoy the charcuterie board and the open beer & wine bar while kids go for the soup and grilled cheeses. Donna’s code here is: “Pay attention to what you’re offering your clients.”
Beyond the basics, she also sticks to her belief that this party is about offering a unique experience which breaks away from the everyday, and this even extends to the food.
Sure, kids might go for hot chocolate on a somewhat regular basis, but how often do adults get to indulge in a hot chocolate bar? The one at Donna’s party is a hit with both kids and adults, featuring an assortment of toppings like marshmallows and sprinkles which allow people of all ages to experience a sense of child-like fun.
Holiday Client Appreciation Party Tip No. 5: Promote the Holiday Party
When it comes to scheduling and then promoting your party, the timing is vital. As we’ve already mentioned, Donna buys up her block of tickets and secures the function room two months in advance, as soon as tickets become available.
A big mistake she often sees is scheduling parties for Fridays or Saturdays, when people are likely to have conflicting events around this time of the year. That’s why she usually opts for scheduling hers on a Thursday, which also aligns with her focus on having a family friendly event.
Comms go out three weeks in advance, starting with an e-vite (175 sent) and followed by text messages to all of her past and current clients. Both the e-vite and text state that while this event is free and extended to the people you’d like to bring, an RSVP is required for everyone in attendance and there are a limited number of spots.
Last year, she bought 80 tickets and received 95 RSVPs, but, anticipating several no-shows, she decided to let it ride and everything worked out. But as her network and the demand for her party grows, this is something she intends to develop a contingency plan for.
For Donna, filling her party isn’t an issue, but for less established agents, I’d recommend also promoting your party on social media in order to build hype and spread the word.
Holiday Client Appreciation Party Tip No. 6: It’s All About Appreciation
How could we possibly talk about a client appreciation holiday party without talking about referrals, right?
This is where a lot of agents are split as to whether you should mention them at your party or not. Some insist that it’s the nature of the game and provides astounding results. Donna however, does not mention referrals during her client appreciation holiday party. Her reasoning is in the name of the event itself – “It’s about showing appreciation and genuinely thanking them for working with you, not turning a thoughtful event into a reciprocal deal.”
For her, this strategy works. Not only does the party naturally lead to referral business but it establishes her as more than just an agent in the minds of her clientele.
In your case, I’d say do whatever you feel is right. If you’re comfortable using this opportunity to ask for referrals, go for it. But like I said, R&Ding (ripping off and duplicating) the strategies that work is the fast-track to success, but Donna’s strategy is not one to be ignored.
Holiday Client Appreciation Party Tip No. 7: Use for Marketing
Donna’s client appreciation holiday parties have been such a success that it’d be insane not to leverage that success in her marketing (I mean, they’re so good that even I’m doing it for her now!).
The videographer she works with is there to capture the entire night, including client testimonials about Donna’s services. The footage is edited into long and short videos for Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, and she even shares it with her entire email database in her newsletter. She’s always sure to tag the people who were at the event and share the videos with them.
Her first year of doing this party, she hired a photographer to take pictures of the families which she could then email to them, but this strategy turned out to be time consuming and difficult to maintain, so Donna wouldn’t recommend it.
How Will You Celebrate Your Clients This Holiday Season?
Donna is a shining example of the type of agents who I’m seeing thrive in this market – those who give freely without expectation (although they always do receive greatly in return), not just to her clients and community but also to other agents.
She believes in the kind of contribution in which everyone rises up together, and that’s why she’s agreed to share all of this with you.
If you’re looking to get a lot more strategies shared directly from some of the top agents in your area, there is absolutely nothing that comes close to my Roadmap events. During these one-day events, myself and some of the top agents in regions across the country are sharing the winning plays that are working in TODAY’S market.
Throughout October, I’m making my way through New England before shooting out to the Western desert in November, so if you live near Annapolis, Boston, Phoenix, or Vegas, you’ll want to secure your place as soon as possible.
Hope this has helped! As always, you know where to reach us, and also, feel free to reach out to Donna with any questions (or referrals!) at firstname.lastname@example.org.