How many times have you gone to an event and the first thing you hear people talking about is the food? It happens all the time! Even years after the event took place guests will still talk about how great or awful a meal was. Food is the basis for every type of event, whether it’s a wedding, a corporate meeting, or even a small gathering in someone’s home. Food and beverage is the one part of the event that hits every sense and will most likely make or break the guest experience.
It’s true that most events are taking place in a banquet hall or a catering service is providing the food. These five tips will benefit any event planner to make sure that the food and beverage provided are executed to perfection.
- Define the Service – There are an abundance of options to choose from when you are deciding on what type of service you would like to provide at the event: sit down dinner, buffet, cocktail reception, etc. The best way to choose the perfect service for an event is establishing a budget for food and beverage and thinking about what ambiance you want to create for the event. For instance, an event with a tight budget may benefit from having a buffet dinner versus a sit down dinner. However, a sit down dinner is preferable for a more formal event. Maybe the purpose of the event is for networking and promoting conversation. A cocktail reception with passed hors d’oeuvres or food stations would be the best choice in this example.
- Review the Menu – Event planners will usually work with a banquet hall or catering company to provide the food and beverage for the event. They will provide menu options for you to choose from or help create a custom menu for your event. Whatever the case may be, you must review the menu from the perspective of your client and their guests. Are all the dietary restrictions covered? (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc.) Does the menu fit the theme of the event? Are your client’s requests being offered? Is there enough food or are they providing too many options for the budget? The catering vendors are the experts at what they do. It is important that you trust their guidance, but always remember to keep your client’s needs in focus when discussing the menus.
- All About That Bar – Sometimes the most important part of the food and beverage is the beverage! Budget and ambiance need to be factored in for selecting the appropriate beverage offerings. A limited bar package, i.e. beer and wine only, may be a great offering for your clients who want to provide alcohol, but can’t afford the full premium bar. Maybe you can suggest to your client a specialty cocktail that will tie in to the theme of their event. Alcohol at an event is a popular idea, but remember it’s not always a great idea. For example, a client who is hosting a professional seminar may not benefit from having an open bar. You can always suggest fun and exciting beverages sans alcohol. Think seasonal aqua fresca stations and virgin cocktails! Don’t be afraid to discuss these ideas with your caterer and see what they can do to execute.
- Think BIG Picture – Food and beverage is not limited to just the meal. We also need to think about tablescape, presentation and execution! How are the tables going to be set? What color linens will you be using? What style of china and flatware best ties into the ambiance? How will the food be presented? Does your caterer have things in their inventory that can be used for a cheaper price or will they need to rent from a third party vendor? How will the food be served throughout the event? What’s the timeline of serving out? These are such crucial questions to discuss with your client and caterer to make sure that all aspects of the event are in line with the client’s expectations and are reasonable for the caterer.
- Stay Trendy – Food has taken a spotlight in events over the past few years. There are so many innovative and exciting new trends in the food world that can be implemented into your events. It is super important that an event planner stay in the know on all of these popular food trends. Take advantage of the local restaurants and stores in your community and try out their food. Follow food blogs and Instagrams to see what people in the food community are talking about. Visit industry websites like catersource.com to see what the experts are accomplishing in their businesses. Bringing these new ideas in food to your clients and caterers will make for some really fun and delicious memories! And hey, who doesn’t want to indulge in some delicious food and drink? 🙂
Guest Post by Allison Tiberi.