Wining and dining: A pre-Covid relic, or poised for a comeback?

The experience was marked by a new variable time – the Chief Commercial Officer of digital agency Incubeta said that he immediately returned to engaging with another person in real life, using the memory muscle of how to relate to them.

“Relationships continue to hold significance, especially in the present circumstances,” stated Henry, whose advertising agency has collaborated with renowned brands such as Disney and L’Oréal. “Although it may appear that the era of entertaining clients conflicts with the growing prominence of remote work, these two aspects are not mutually exclusive. Activities like dining out or attending sporting events will resume, but alongside comprehending a client’s business requirements, we must also show respect and admiration for how individuals choose to allocate their time. Commuting, being away from loved ones, and working beyond regular hours – time has acquired a value for most individuals that cannot be disregarded. In the past, time may have been taken for granted as an inherent part of conducting business.”

Professionals like Henry are exploring how to cultivate more intimate relationships, whether the room is the same or not. While the pandemic has forced us to pause face-to-face interactions and entertaining, it has also sent everyone underground before Covid, shelving the cherished traditional way of doing business and wining and dining clients across the adland.

The majority of people agree with Henry that relationships have developed into more profound, more personal bonds.

The time we spend together is focused on building trust and celebrating wins, ensuring that we only savor meaningful connections and moments with our clients in real life. We have replaced many coast-to-coast red-eye flights with the ease of clicking a link, thanks to our partnership with Superfly, an experiential shop that has worked with brands like Verizon and Bravo, as mentioned by Lauren Guss, EVP of client leadership. Now, we are struck by the humanity of it all, having seen the number of pets and babies in everyone’s homes. Chemistry and personal connection have always been important factors in fostering a successful partnership.

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USA Industries Mother, an advertising agency, headed by Gardner, Alex, has started hosting clients’ meetings and gatherings at their own headquarters, making sure they feel comfortable. They highly value the development and growth of the company and are looking forward to resuming in-person meetings.

Our agency was founded around the idea of minimizing Covid restrictions as a way to keep collaborative work going. It is extremely important to us as a team to try and get back to normal as much as possible. That’s why we prioritize having dinner together around the kitchen table, as it fosters a strong sense of teamwork and unity.

He emphasized that, especially in terms of pitches, the vitality of face-to-face interactions cannot be substituted, even though Zoom meetings and emails will remain the standard due to the agency’s widespread staff and clients.

Seve de Alexis, the client services director at Studios Stink, expressed, “While you may not be able to beat the connection and unique energy that comes from being in-person, we have proven that we can still be productive from home. Although we can’t replicate the experience online, I am also eager to return to the office halls or coffee workshops where people can meet.”

In the future, she hopes to strike a balance between efficiently working remotely and getting to know her clients on a more personal level. While arranging face-to-face meetings is essential for her agenda-driven and client-focused work, she recognizes that there is an opportunity to learn and collaborate with clients through video calls that can’t be replicated in other ways. This is why she sees planning ahead for safe in-person visits as a means to continue working for companies like Google and Riot Games, whose work revolves around client interaction.

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“Naturally, many clients prefer to continue agency accommodations, which Creative JOAN’s managing director, Sarah Collinson, said Virgin Hotels and Facebook have worked with. She mentioned that although it feels good to be back in person, we have handled Zoom excellently. We are heading out for dinner afterwards to discuss face-to-face work and it’s awesome to be getting back into rooms with clients.”

Collinson noted, “It provides a calmer approach to work and is beneficial for both individuals’ well-being and the environment.” The need for travel has drastically changed in the last couple of years and is now limited to “essential occasions.” Undoubtedly, there have been advantages to virtual meetings.

Janet Yen, the vice president of strategy and partnerships at Good Apple, a media agency that has provided services for companies such as Merck and Pepsico, stated that due to clients being located in different parts of the country, the agency has adopted virtual kick-offs for individuals who are unable to come to the office or meet face-to-face. The process of pitching and onboarding new clients has been difficult during the pandemic as the initial excitement of starting a new partnership is typically heightened by in-person social gatherings.

Despite the widely debated “Zoom exhaustion,” Yen emphasized that the connection is more important than the platform.

She stated, “Even a Zoom individual meeting is significantly more intimate than your usual video conference.” “The direct engagement — albeit via a digital display — still enables a more open conversation.”

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