Corporate events are often designed for various reasons. It may be to impress clients, to treat your employees for a big project you just snagged or to celebrate a certain milestone that your company achieved.

An unplanned corporate event though may become a recipe for disaster and corporate nightmare because even in prepared occasions, little mishaps will always happen. And what thing can cause more embarrassment than any other? The food of course. Some attendees may not remember what you say but they will always remember how the food tasted, how it was served and how everything looked like it’s well thought out and not just a last minute thrown-together detail.

First thing’s first, how do you choose a provider?

How do you choose a catering provider?

catering managerphoto: audiolucistore

Things to consider includes:

  1. Availability. Is your caterer available at your chosen date?
  2. Budget. Can your caterer meet your needs at a given price?
  3. Food quality. Does your caterer have good reviews in terms of food quality?
  4. Tasting Sessions. Does your caterer offer tasting sessions?
  5. Visualizations. Can your caterer visualize what you want?
  6. Experience and references. Is your caterer experienced in the field and who in your local area have they served?
  7. Service. Is their service as commendable as their food?
  8. Health and business permit. Do they have all the necessary permit to operate?
  9. Contract. Is their contract phrased the right way at your own request?

Event and Catering Points to Consider

For a corporate event to be successful, it needs to hit the goals set without compromising the “fun” and the “memorability” factor. For this event to be successful, certain factors may need to be considered. The whole article is focused on big corporate events, for small events, some tips and options below can be omitted.

Goal

An event needs to start with goals. What would you like to achieve with the event you will be putting on? No event or party happens for no reason, no matter how little it is. This is where you will design and base your event happenings.

Budget

Corporate events need to be budget focused. And often, some of the top executives may visualise a high end party but may only give a small budgeted financial plan. If you’re in-charge, there are things that you can do to make everything fit. Look for caterers that are not so expensive but still offers very a good package.

Focus on details and ask caterers questions. Further on, we outline questions you can ask your caterers.

Demographics

Who will be attending the event? Your food and venue should be based on your guests and attendees. The number should be estimated. Some big corporate events may use their websites to have guests log in and RSVP. Although it won’t be  100% accurate, still it may give you as an organiser a number to expect. Just make sure you indicate the RSVP process in your invitation.

Always talk with your caterers the chance of having extra for food since the expected number will not always be the same with the real numbers.

Themes

This one is an option if you have the budget for it. Before you go for it, consider the amount of time needed to fine-tune the details needed for a themed event. From invitations to food, decorations, invitations, props, giveaways etc.

On-site or off-site

Where’s the best place to hold the event? In your company building or somewhere off-site? Both may have advantages. On-site may help you reduce costs but off-site will give employees and guests the chance to get away from work and socialise in another place. You may also need to consider things such as parking and transportation, stage area, lighting, etc. Again, everything boils down to your budget.

Event room choice may also affect the way your event will turn out. Will it be in an open venue? On your building’s rooftop? Or in a big hall?

Sit down or buffet and food

food

Ottoman Carrot Fritters with Pistachio Sauce at The Bazaar by Jose Andres photo: Larry

Sit down menus are good for structured events and best when you want to ensure that a large number of guests can be served quickly. Buffet style is the best way to keep everybody socializing. They will have the choice of what to eat and when they want to eat it.

Either way, most caterers provide various options.

Linen

Linen is usually offered free or as requested, by caterers. Some caterers may offer it with an additional fee. They can be a costly addition to impress guests.

VIP Pre-party

In the situation where you have a small budget and are trying to impress, you can opt for a VIP pre-party and treat the VIP’s as such. You can treat the bigger event no less, there can be ways to cut costs without it showing and without your guests feeling left out.

Drinks

drinks

Champagne spread. Photo: Didriks

Will you serve alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages? It will depend on the event. Or you can schedule a bar tab for it. You can even serve regulated wine and reserve the cocktails for later.

Another thing to score big points for your event is to give it a bang or a fun detail that your guests will surely remember. The “wow” factor usually gets your party remembered for a long time. Here are some cool ideas for it.

Some Cool Tips to Incorporate for a WOW factor

Drink-pouring ice sculpture

A free pouring alcoholic drink will ensure more drunken guests and employees after, which isn’t good if you have other goals in mind after the event. Instead, ask your caterer if they have some interesting non-alcoholic  ways to incorporate an ice sculpture.

Fondue fountain

chocolate fondue

Now, who can resist chocolate fountains? Photo: Paul Gorbould

A fondue fountain is a not so expensive addition to your menu. And caterers often have it as an option. Imagine strawberries with white chocolate, or dark chocolate. Or a meat or cheese fondue. Delicious!

Include Fun Trivia on Every Table

Trivia on every table can break the ice among your guests. It can keep them talking and socializing with each other. Your trivia can be theme related or company related.

Dessert to-go or Espresso bar for coffee to bring home

This addition can be added if you have the extra budget for it. Having coffee in the espresso bar will help cut costs since those who don’t drink coffee won’t be served one or won’t be included on the prior head count. Dessert to go can be a souvenir option for your guests too.

Souvenir

Event souvenirs are a good way to make the event more memorable. It can be pieces that are relevant to the event or your company. Make sure it’s properly labelled and dated and everybody gets to have one.

Entertainers

You can have various options for entertainment when your party is themed. But if it’s formal, you can opt for a singer or a simple band fit for the crowd (i.e older executives will appreciate bands that integrates music from past rather than focusing on one genre). If the party is lighter, dance entertainments can be good. Games with prizes are also recommended. Local college and young and upcoming talents are often lower in price but can be just as good.

Wow Factor

You can choose among confetti blasts, small pyrotechnic display or a magician. Again, it all depends in the party atmosphere you opt to have. Just make sure everything is relevant to the event theme.

Cost Saving tips

Watch time. Keeping the event short and timely will also help you cut costs.

Limit bar offerings

Usually, an extensive bar offering is one of the things which will inflate your budget. You can limit drink options or limit the bar time.

Choose food wisely and consider food portioning

No, it’s not what you think. Don’t ever make your guests and employees feel that you’ve cut food on them. Instead, you can opt for seasonal menu ingredients and local produce. Passed appetizers for example can be less expensive than buffet options at cocktail hour. Trends today have veered away from the traditional; cuts of meat for the main course, instead farm to table options, charcuterie focused menu are replaced. These may include vegetables, stews, and braised meats. Ask your caterer.

Reduce labour costs

Quality service is one thing that can make your event a huge success. But there can be ways to cut service and reduce labour costs. Buffet requires no servers. Un-staffed events are good for small and limited dinners.

Be smart on venue selection

Some venues may charge extra for space you may use like the kitchen or the parking area for your deliveries. Choose venues that have flexible times, have a pre-existing kitchens and flexible load-ins.

What to ask your Caterers

Sometimes you may forget details since planning can occupy so much mind space. A pre-made list of questions will make sure that you won’t miss anything. So here’s an example and suggested questions you may ask your caterers.

  • Will the catering be finished on site? Cooked ahead? Or will be put in hot box to stay warm?
  • For past caterer’s clients: How many times have you asked the caterer to cater for you? What is the best thing about their service or the worst thing if there is any?
  • Is your catering price inclusive of everything I asked?
  • Is tax included already in the quotation?
  • Will the price vary if additional guests are added later?
  • How do you charge for the service?
  • Will the tip be from the caterer or do we have to give it?
  • Can you do specific meals for some person? Like gluten free meal?
  • Are you flexible if there are mishaps in the program, like we started late?
  • Who will be the over-all in charge of your catering team?

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The above questions are just few of the things you might think to ask. And based on your own event, you can add more questions to the list.

Have you had prior catering event that you organised? Have you got any cool tips to add?

We’d love your comments below.

featured image: Sebastiaan ter Burg

About Author

Roelen researches, creates, tailors content for outreach and content promotion campaigns as well as social presence management. She likes poetry, blues, The Walking Dead and crime books.