Catering and event managers aspire to exceed planners’ expectations and create an event guests will rave about. Whether it’s an elaborate black-tie affair, an intimate party, or a corporate board meeting, numerous elements go into making a memorable catering event. With so many details to juggle, what should you focus on first?
Before we dive in, be sure to visit our ultimate guide to grow events and group business for an all-encompassing rundown of events, sales and catering tips, data points and best practices.
Here are 7 tips for creating a memorable catering event:
1. Make an Impeccable First Impression
Before the wheels are set in motion for an event, it’s vital to remember that first impressions matter. How quickly did you respond to the planner’s request for proposal (RFP)? Was your response at all customized to the information they previously provided? By focusing on the details planners need up front and incorporating them into the venue showing, it will not only have them excited to sign immediately, but make everyone’s job and expectations easier. Being attentive and thorough will establish the tone between you and the planner from the get-go.
2. Personalize From the Beginning
When you’re meeting with a planner to craft the event, suggest areas where they can add personalization so they feel like the event is genuinely theirs. You can even go one step further and request a copy of their current event itinerary to advise them on adding elements outside of the main event like room accommodations, transportation, and evening events.
At that same time, it can be helpful to recommend vendors who have worked at your venue before so they can suggest details that no one else may think of. For example, using a florist who is exceptionally familiar with the details of your venue can maximize the florist’s creativity in the space while providing money saving ideas.
3. Facilitate Seamless Communication
While planners hire you to handle all of the logistics and the “heavy lifting,” your planner also has to approve everything, requiring frequent communication. This is where a banquet event order (BEO) is essential to tracking and updating details – from menus and vendors contracted, to delivery schedules, payment due dates, and so forth.
It’s advantageous to keep all planner and vendor correspondences, such as emails, contracts, and planning notes in a centralized online location so you have instant access to information no matter where you are. Additionally, developing a timeline of daily and weekly tasks—and the person(s) assigned for each—will help to ensure that action items are planned, on schedule, and completed.
4. Wow With Food & Beverage
The food and beverage that will be served can elevate an event from good to great. The menu can also be a clever way to differentiate your venue and entice planners to book. Using organic or sustainable food, for example, can help to drive specific business in your area. Gaining an understanding of your competition’s offering and then collaborating to offer a menu that is appealing, unique, and priced well will make all the difference.
It’s also becoming more critical for catering managers to address any specific allergies or dietary restrictions early on. The more sensitive you can be to those guests for instance, knowing their name and what table they are seated at, the more comfortable those guests and their planner will feel during the event.
5. Make Great Use of the Event Space
People are extremely visual by nature. Help planners achieve their vision by creating a diagram of the event space during the booking and planning phases. If the event is for team building, you may want to arrange tables closer together with lunch served “family style” to create an atmosphere more conducive to bonding. For larger events such as weddings, for example, you’ll want to demonstrate to planners that there is sufficient room for food service items such as buffet and dessert tables. Mapping out the space and configuring where tables, chairs, and food service items will be placed to the final detail empowers planners and reduces pre-event anxieties.
6. Prepare Your Staff Ahead of Time
Your catering staff is essential to making your event stand out, whether it’s briefing team leaders at the BEO meeting or the serving staff the day of. Holding an in-person team briefing so everyone understands the flow of the event, key moments, and people is critical. Keeping in mind that service is at the core of an event, the catering staff and servers need to be aware of the importance of reducing wait times for food and drinks. The team also needs to create a seamless transition from one part of the event to another, thus creating a natural flow between food & beverage service and activities.
Additionally, making sure that the Banquet Captain is attentive to the planner is essential. Does the planner have everything they need during the entirety of the event such as water, food, drinks, Wi-Fi, climate control, and more? Being visible or easily accessible to the planner is crucial.
7. Plan for the Unexpected
As the adage goes, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” However, if you’re properly prepared, you can circumvent most issues that arise during an event. Ensuring you have a list of “back-up items” such as additional extension cords, chargers, adaptors, walkie-talkies, lighters, and tablecloths, for example, will help in preventing any noticeable mishaps. Making extra food, stocking extra beverages, and having cocktails pre-mixed to avoid a bar rush is also a good idea!
Creating a memorable catering event is only possible when the communication and collaboration between all of the teams involved and the planner is on point. Sales and catering software can significantly assist in tracking and storing all communications you have with your team, vendors, and the customer. Having the ability to access vital information day or night from anywhere can streamline the entire event process.
Learn more about how Amadeus Sales & Event Management can make a dramatic impact when it comes to assisting your catering and sales teams in creating a memorable catering event that planners and their guests will enjoy.