You want the very best experience for your attendees, whether at an offsite corporate event or an onsite meeting. That experience should include catering. Here we offer five tips that create a memorable, on-budget event.
Tip #1: Use food as a way to encourage networking
One of the most frequently mentioned dissatisfiers at corporate events is insufficient time for networking. Often employees are meeting each other for the first time, even if they may work together on the same team. With small plates that can be filled with a variety of flavorful bites, conference participants can easy meet and greet. While many prefer to stand, it’s always a good idea to provide cozy tables for that let’s-write-it-down-on-a-cocktail-napkin conversation.
Tip #2: Plan that things will go wrong
Corporate event planners, whether functional specialists or volunteers, believe in Murphy’s Law: Anything that could go wrong, will go wrong. The building for your event burns down. The CEO or guest speaker is stuck at the wrong airport. You get a flat tire on your way to the event. Make sure you have contingencies incorporated into your plan and even contingencies for your contingencies.
When it comes to working with your caterer, planning for the worst can translate to ensuring you have food suitable for most needs: vegetarian/vegan, low salt/low fat/low sugar, gluten free, nut free, etc. You want your colleagues (and executives) to not have to worry about what they’re eating.
Tip #3: Food does create a memorable event
A study conducted by AT&T once indicated that a successful event depended on the experience participants had with the food provided. Happy stomachs and satisfied palates make for attentive listeners. Work with your caterer to select menu choices at lunchtime that renew, not zap, energy. Your after-lunch speaker will be grateful for your undivided attention.
Tip #4: Check your guest list and check it again
Especially if your event is at your site, make sure Security has your guest list, including those people from whom you haven’t heard. Nothing is worse than someone who perseveres through traffic or bad weather to get to an event and then he or she can’t seem to get past the reception desk for lack of being “on the list.”
Tip #5: Let conferees know what to expect
It may be obvious to share the agenda and perhaps lodging accommodation suggestions, if needed, with your conference participants. But you may also want to share the menu, including timed snacks. And always plan for the 3:00 pm sugar dip.
Bonus: Know your support staff
Whether onsite or offsite, get to know the people you can contact when mikes don’t work, when the room is too cold or too warm, or someone has a medical problem.
You want your corporate event to go smoothly. By working carefully and thoughtfully with your caterer and facilities staff, you can make it happen.