Planning the company’s next meeting or corporate event takes more than just choosing the best venue and amenities.
The same level of attention and detail must be given to the food. Corporate meetings with a long list of scheduled presentations can take their toll on the participants, which is why keeping them happy with great food is a priority.
It isn’t just about providing a satisfactory dining experience for your bosses and coworkers – being successful in your catering responsibility makes for an excellent first impression.
Fortunately, you don’t have to shoulder all the hard work; by working with a catering company, you’ve got things covered. All you have to do is take care of the intangibles.
Here’s a list of ideas and tips:
Do a Headcount First
You can’t plan on anything or explore the available options without an estimated headcount. The caterer needs a rough estimate for them to provide a menu option. Although the estimate may change over time, the best approach is to provide updates as the corporate event or meeting draws near.
Setting a budget for catering in a corporate event or presentation is different from that of a family gathering or party. You don’t serve the company executives with burger and fries when they’re expecting steak and wine.
Come up with a list of food preferences and then work out a budget based on those choices. Everything must go through management before you present it to the catering service. If you’re working with an event planner, then it’ll be easier to cover all the bases, including the tables, flowers, and linens.
Work Around the Theme
Relate your food choices to the theme of the corporate event or meeting. Although these events all focus on business and formalities, it doesn’t mean there’s a general or universal rule on the type of food and beverages to serve.
For instance, a buffet goes over nicely if one part of the meeting is meant to surprise the team for an excellent sales performance this year.
Food at the business meeting must be good enough to keep the energy high. You need the participants to be awake, focused, and energized. With preferences and the budget on hand, you look at the menu options with one thing in mind: high energy lunch.
Even with a limited budget, food in a corporate meeting doesn’t have to be bland. Sandwiches and wraps are a practical option, to begin with, followed by fancy lunch fillings. You’ll need to work closely with the catering service (some brainstorming if necessary) to come up with food and beverages that serve the “high energy” purpose.
Buffet vs. Wait Staff
Your choice depends on the number of participants and how busy the meeting or presentation is. Lean towards a full-service wait staff if the participants’ attention is on a presentation or speaker.
The wait staff prevents the participants from standing and walking up to the buffet, which is a distraction. A buffet lunch makes sense if the meeting requires a break, thereby giving the participants a chance to loosen up a bit and chat.
Platters and Finger Foods
A corporate event that lasts the entire day could quickly overwhelm some participants, especially seniors. One of the best ways to break the lethargy is by offering finger foods and platters. Work with the catering service to come up with an attractive display across the boardroom.
With finger foods and platters, you’ve got a ton of choices, ranging from crackers and mini sandwiches to meat and vegetable skewers. It’s a fun way to break the monotony of a rather serious-minded business or corporate event.
Drinks and Sweets
A full menu from your caterer means that everyone enjoys healthy and filling meals. It’s the reason why most corporate meetings aren’t too high on desserts. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean you completely take it off the menu.
Drinks and desserts complement each other, and they must be present to wrap up a sumptuous lunch. You don’t need to overspend on them – a fruit platter, chocolate fountain, or even a plate of brownies gets the job done.
Aside from coffee and tea (corporate event staples), throw in some fresh fruit juice and cold bottled water, too. Remember, everyone must be hydrated for a long day ahead.
Mind the Restrictions
Variety is critical when serving food to company executives and coworkers in a corporate meeting. You can’t assume that everyone eats meat; some participants might be vegetarians or on a strict gluten-free diet.
When planning the food, inform the catering service that you’re hoping to incorporate some gluten-free and vegan options. Being informed of dietary restrictions is a showcase of respect to everyone.
No Boxed Lunches
From the moment you decided to work with a catering service, it means you’re doing away with boxed lunches. There was a time when it was a trend in corporate meetings since it’s convenient. Nevertheless, there must be an emphasis on the versatility of the menu and the presentation.
Although a corporate meeting is about business, your bosses and coworkers will certainly remember the gastronomic experience.
With the right caterer, you’re assured of great-tasting food that’s presented and set up in a way that it leaves a lasting impression. Don’t skimp on food, especially when it’s a big-time event like a corporate gathering.