Business meetings and conferences have changed considerably over the years. Many of these business events and conferences are moving out of the board room and into new off-site locations, offering better menus, a better atmosphere and utilizing better technology.
The bottom line is still about discussing business matters and motivating team players for the company’s future successes, but it is also an opportunity for you to treat your employees, attendees, and clients to a bit of an out of office experience.
A large proponent of that experience is the meals that are served. Meals and refreshment breaks are used to keep everyone’s energy levels up while promoting a little goodwill and camaraderie. When it comes to catering for conferences or important business events, it is imperative to plan.
Here are our top tips on our Ultimate Cheat Sheet on catering for conferences:
This is a simple, obvious but often overlooked aspect of catering. When given the budget, be clear with what are reasonable expectations within the budget. Often, a client will set a budget and menu and then look to upgrade the menu but at no extra cost. If there are any other additional costs that you may incur, such as catering for halaal or kosher attendees, let your client know up front. The budget is often a point of frustration when catering for a conference, so getting all your numbers in a row will allow for the roll out of the event to be smooth.
To Bar or Not to Bar:
This depends entirely on what type of conference you are hosting. If your client has requested alcohol; go through a wine and drinks list with them and select their drinks of choice before hand. On the day of the event, make sure that only the available drinks are on display and that the bar staff are aware of this. There is often misunderstandings and confusion when people ask for drinks that aren’t on the list and the waiter isn’t aware of it. The additional charges may cause friction with the client. Help your client choose a balanced drinks list that caters for everyone’s needs. If you intend on having a cash bar, make sure that there are card and cash facilities and that everyone is aware that it is a cash bar. Bare in mind that when hosting a cash bar after a meeting, approximately 50% of the attendees will participate and when having a hosted bar, 75%+ of the attendees will participate. Your choice of bar will be dependant on the type of event you are hosting and the objectives of the conference.
When catering for conferences, be mindful of the theme and the vibe that the conference is going for. Food is a major component when setting the scene of an event. If you are having a festivalization styled conference, the food should be playful, fun and trendy and it should be served in the same way. The food should speak festivalization as well. For a sit-down conference for board members, a sit-down, traditional lunch may be more suitable. The secret to nailing this is to gauge your audience correctly.
Caterer’s play a more important role than their clients think. Feeding attendees at the right time can determine whether they take in the information you are imparting on them or it gets lost in translation due to a lack of concentration. Having your client’s agenda will help you plan accordingly; enabling you to serve the food when it is hot, chilled or freshly prepared.
Keep it green:
With more and more companies going down the green carpet, and with the imminent threat of global warming, caterer’s need to offer their service in a more sustainable manner. This is not only good for your brand and the environment, but also for the budget. Using packaging that is biodegradable, serving foods that are locally produced and sourced and that are eco-friendly to produce will go a long way. To make sure that your leftovers don’t go to waste, use an app like Olio to get those leftovers to people in need.
There will always be a few niggles when catering for a conference but if you follow our cheat sheet above, your catering game will be on point. Happy Catering!
If you are planning a conference or business event, get in touch with us today. We are at your service!