Client Appreciation Versus Client Referral Events

Clients sometimes confuse client appreciation events with client referral events and while the difference seems subtle, done correctly a client appreciation event will bring in referrals naturally as a result of the feeling of goodwill it generates whereas a client referral event is very much a business development exercise.

Client Appreciation Event is to thank current business clients.

Client Referral Event is for clients to bring one or more of their “qualified” friends to meet you.

noisemakerA Client Appreciation Event assists businesses in retaining existing clients and developing repeat business, whereas a Referral Event is a vehicle to attract new clients. But remember, clients go where they are invited, and they stay only where they are appreciated.

Here are some ideas for a Client Appreciation event ranging from a few dollars per client up to about $ 100 per client. All of these need “fleshing” out to make them work, but they give you some food for thought.


  1. Put on an old-fashioned family picnic (bouncy castles etc)
  2. Take clients to sports events (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc.)
  3. Put together a Wine & Cheese tasting at a local restaurant or wine store
  4. Chocolate tasting at a local Chocolatier
  5. Host a dinner cruise
  6. Invite clients to a theater event
  7. Have a mobile spa come to your event (in Dallas try A Spa Affair)
  8. Rent a movie theatre for a first-run movie
  9. Host a holiday party
  10. Have a wardrobe consultant give a presentationGolf traffic jam
  11. Casino Night with proceeds to a charity
  12. Invite clients to a cooking class
  13. Rent out a public pool for a family swim night
  14. Host a tail gate party at a sports event
  15. Organize a family hike with a picnic after
  16. Invite people to a tournament (golf, baseball, croquet etc)
  17. Hot air balloon rides
  18. Weekly dance lessons for clients
  19. Create a Scavenger Hunt for clients and a have a party after
  20. Rent the IMAX Theatre for a special showing
  21. Take them to the horse race track and give them $ 25 to gamble
  22. Have a Magician teach clients magic tricks
  23. Hire a relevant Speaker
  24. Reserve cars or go-carts at the local car race track and invite clients to drive them
  25. Sports Fishing charter
  26. Dinner & Private showing at an artists home
  27. Whitewater rafting trip
  28. Rent out a spa and provide 2 treatments per client
  29. Evening golf lessons with a Pro

Have fun and make sure your clients feel appreciated.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy Love says:

    What a wonderful list of ideas! You make a great point about clients staying where they are appreciated- and that they will then bring in referrals naturally. I own A Spa Affair, a mobile day spa based out of Dallas, Texas. We work with many companies on client appreciation events and from what I’ve heard from our clients, all these events have been extremely successful and well received by their customers. Thanks for the great posting!

  2. Great list, appreciate you sharing them. We heard of a great idea: Use disposable cameras at these types of events. This way, the attendees can take lots of photos. Afterwards, we get the pictures developed and mail them to the attendees with a handwritten note. It makes a lasting impression and has generated many referrals for us!

  3. Caroline says:

    I’m planning an appreciation cocktail party for two of our catering affiliates on our vendor list. We’re a unique event venue with a lot of history. We were going to do a “Hot Seat” questionaire for the two owners. We invited 30 of their employees to attend as well. Any ideas for other activities for the evening?

    1. Mike Blaney says:


      What about asking them all to bring their favorite recipes which you in turn copy and then create a cookbook to give to each attendee. If the recipes were emailed it would be even easier.

  4. Wafa says:

    Can someone help me with the wording…I am doing a client appreciation party and want to make sure that my clients know that their children are invited ( family friendly event ) I am having a face painter should I mention that?

    1. Mike Blaney says:

      I think the term “family-friendly” communicates the message perfectly.

  5. Lauren Linn says:

    We do an end of year Client Appreciation event – the clients that are invited, are the clients that have given us referrals throughout the year. Throughout the year, we do Client Referral events and we ask that our clients bring a friend – how do we word such an invitation without insulting, offending or alienating any of our clients, but in a way that they get the purpose of these events?

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