What are the rights and wrongs of event catering?
So, you have everything set for your big event; guest lists, speakers, sponsors and an amazing event management platform however you are still working out the second most important thing- event catering! This is something that even the most experienced event organizers need to pay close attention to. Food is essential to an all-day event and what guests often look forward to the most, a bad caterer will equal unhappy guests as we enter an era of ‘the foodies’.
According to Eventbrite's One Poll survey, 74% of Americans are guaranteed to show up to an event if they know the food will be good. This shows the impact food can have in terms of event attendance.
However, we know there are many different factors that go into event catering meaning it can be daunting to organize. It is important to research and plan your catering properly for an event so as not to make any large mistakes. This is why we have done the work for you and put together our 24 rights and wrongs for every element of event catering. Going into detail on what types of food to serve to please everyone and make an impact, what service should be provided to the guests when catering and how to impress your guests whilst still sticking to a budget.
What food are you serving?
Ensure your event catering suits everyone's dietary needs, your guests are likely to have intolerance's and allergies to different foods. So make sure to offer many different options such as gluten-free and vegan. You can even check this before the event by adding a 'Dietary requirement' box on your Glue Up registration form for your guests to fill out.
Be innovative with the food choices, trends are forever changing so make sure you keep up with the times. A spectacular food showcase could even bring you in some user-generated content on social media- think avocado's on toast in rose shapes at breakfast and Bento boxes for lunch.
Double-check that your food choices reflect the seasons, your guests probably won’t appreciate a hot pot in the middle of August.
Support your local trade shop, buying fresh produce locally will help your community along with tasting better. It is also a way to promote sustainable event catering by reducing the food miles.
Ignore health regulations, these change in every region so be sure to check out the local laws so you don’t end up with a hefty fine. Even worse- end up leaving your guests with food poisoning. No one wants their event to be remembered for the time half the guests ended up in a hospital!
Allow the food to be cooked too early, this could mean that it goes cold and loses flavor. It may leave your guests with a 'cheap' and 'unprofessional' impression of the event management. This also has the potential to ruin the overall event atmosphere.
Event Catering Service, The rights and Wrongs:
Arrange enough food for all of your guests, nobody wants to be left hungry and disappointed.
Make sure you have enough staff for the event, this is important not only to serve your guests but also to keep the area clean and tidy. Guests will not appreciate trying to eat their dessert with a dirty dinner plate still in front of them.
Be specific with your caterer to make sure they understand exactly what you want to be served, write everything down and double-check this over. Event catering is very important and is something that will definitely be remembered by guests so ensure it is correct.
Revise everything thoroughly, rushing your events catering could leave your guests hungry and upset.
Hire caterers who are more than just catering companies, they can also double up as entertainers through a variety of activities from dancers to comedians. There are endless possibilities to keep your guests entertained and give the WOW factor.
Ignore the technical details of the event- if you are offering a buffet-style meal be certain the room is large enough for your guests to walk around. If a knife and fork are needed to eat make sure that you have tables for guests to sit at- if they must stand cocktail style canapés are best.
Let your guests wait around in long lines for food, instead its best to make sure you have enough servers to fit with your attendee size. If the meal is buffet style rather than sit down take care that there are enough serving stations for lines to quickly move through the dining area. A tip for very large events is to phase meal times into different groups of guests.
Forget to leave intervals between dishes, guests will want the opportunity to socialize and rest in between eating. Also, during large events guests are likely to receive their food at different times meaning that you risk one table eating their dessert whilst the table next to them begins their main.
Leave dirty plates and glasses lying around, the appearance of the room is important and adds to the overall event atmosphere. It is bad practice to leave guests with dirty plates in front of them whilst they drink and socialize.
Keeping to an event catering budget, Rights and Wrongs:
Offer a buffet-style meal, this can cut costs on catering staff and create a more sociable environment. Guests are often just as happy with a buffet as they are a full sit down meal as it offers more flexibility and options. Buffet style meals work especially well over breakfast and lunch.
Focus on the dessert, even if the main was very average a great dessert is a cheap way to impress guests overall. As a dessert is the final course of the meal, therefore, the final thing which will stay in your guest's minds from catering.
Offer a tapas-style selection of foods with drinks rather than a sit-down meal, this will again save on catering costs whilst still leaving guests happy. If you choose to do this make sure the tapas do not require cutlery to eat. Be warned-a common and frustrating catering mistake is serving food which requires a table when accompanying standing networking drinks.
the majority of your budget on fancy decor, as much as everyone enjoys a nice looking room, they will appreciate the event catering more than the decorations. A few flowers and fairy lights can create a great atmosphere at a fraction of the cost from processional event decorators.
above your budgeton impressive ingredients, don’t sell a $20 attendee ticket whilst promising guests lobster. Guests will be expecting the menu to reflect the price paid for their ticket.
more tickets than people you can afford to feed, it is essential you think about both the venue size and your budget here.
your caterer's suggestions to reduce costs- you have hired professionals and they want the guests to be happy just as much as you do! If they suggest serving tea and coffee after dinner they are recommending this from experience not just to make more money from you.
your event caterers are flexible and experts in the field. This is not an area to cut costs down in, using non-professional caterers could cause many problems including poor service, ignoring guests' dietary requirements, food which is cold or poor quality, food which has not been cooked thoroughly, last-minute cancellations and impolite guest interactions.
over the catering, after planning the caterers will do the work for you so relax and let them do their job.
Whilst Event Catering is fun and exciting it does take a lot of planning and organization. Make sure when planning an event that you pay close attention to all of the above time to avoid the wrongs and enhance the rights.
Of course, each event is individual however with catering there are always general practice elements that must stay the same. Including: keeping to local laws, food safety, not leaving any guests hungry and offering professional service.
If you are planning a large scale event, it may be a good idea to hire an event planner to organize elements such as the event catering. Be warned sometimes things do go wrong so just be sure to keep lighthearted about the situation and always have a backup plan.
Smooth event catering is not what makes an event successful as well. Consider Booking a Demo with us today and we'll give you a tour of our end-to-end event management platform that helps make your event run as smooth as possible.
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