Business meetings have changed considerably over the years. Sure, it’s still about crunching the numbers, motivating the troops, and laying the groundwork for your company’s future successes; but it’s also an opportunity to reward the hard work of your stalwart employees, and maybe woo a few high profile accounts in the bargain.
So business meetings, and all corporate events really, have taken on a kind of party atmosphere. There’s often entertainment to break up the brainstorming sessions and sales pitches, as well as refreshments to keep everyone’s energy up and promote a little goodwill and camaraderie.
When it comes to catering an important business event, it is vital that you have a plan of action. You can, and should, rely on your caterer’s advice as you plan your event, but it helps to know what you want and need before the catering staff get’s involved. Let’s review a few simple catering tips to help make your next business event a refreshing success.
Hiring a Caterer
Before we review our helpful hints, we should talk a bit about hiring a caterer. Depending on your business, and your annual entertainment budget, you may want to engage a single catering service for all of your events. For example, if your business stages quarterly events, working with one catering service can help streamline the planning process because your caterer will already be familiar with you and your company. They will have records of your previous events, and so will be better able to keep their service fresh and exciting.
An ongoing contract with a local caterer can also help save you money. Caterers rely on repeat business, and will often provide discounts to companies that book multiple events well in advance. Take advantage of these benefits, because they will pay dividend in the end. Now, on to our helpful hints….
Start With A Head Count
Before you can start making any major catering decisions, you need to have a rough idea of how many people will be attending your event. The total doesn’t have to be final, and you should allow for a little wiggle room, but an approximate head count will help you and your caterer set the budget and start designing a menu.
Say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the Wet Bar
Depending on the event, you may or may not want to provide an open bar. If the event you’re planning is a business meeting or training seminar, you’ll probably want to forego the alcohol. However, if you are planning a sit down dinner, with presentations designed to woo new contracts or business partners, an open bar might be a good thing. Either way, you need to decide early, so you can figure the cost into your budget and make arrangements to hire licensed bar staff.
Schedules and Timetables
Naturally, you’ll be planning out the day’s activities as part of the preparation for your event. Timing is important, and if you are going to have multiple speakers and presentations you’ll want to schedule food service around those activities. The sooner your event’s itinerary is set the better, as it will allow your caterer to decide on cooking and service times so that everything runs smoothly. Obviously, the day’s business takes precedence, but with a firm timetable in place it will be easier for your caterer to seamlessly schedule cocktail service, hors d’oeuvres, and the main course.
Plan a Variety of Options
A sizeable corporate event can play host to hundreds of people, each with their own dietary wants and needs. It is important to provide enough variety to satisfy all of your guests. Remember, more and more people are going vegetarian, so you should advise your caterer to provide a few vegan options. Variety should also extend to the drinks menu, as many of your guests may prefer to avoid alcohol during the event. Remember, a diverse menu shouldn’t adversely impact your catering budget. If you are working with a reputable service, they should be able to deliver a diverse menu at a reasonable cost. Yet another reason to find a caterer you like and trust, and work with them exclusively.
Planning any corporate event can be a handful, but your catering decisions shouldn’t add to the stress. If you plan ahead, make a few key decisions early, and book a catering service with a good reputation, you can stage a business event that is both productive and entertaining. These few catering tips should help to get you started, and ensure that your entertainment budget is well spent and your event well remembered.