Food & Beverages – F&B – as we call it - can make or break your meeting, conference or event.
Providing enough delicious, healthy, ... food and drink is an essential part of the success of a project in our world. Let's not forget that we work in the hospitality sector. Everything here revolves around providing excellent services and as a result, the question is: "Is the client happy?". So catering is never just an expense. Good planning and following up is not a luxury. There is a lot – really a lot – that can go wrong. Here are our 20 ultimate checks for organising catering. You’re welcome.
- Beware of too much noise. If the F&B zone is close to your meeting room or auditorium, tell the caterer that the sound of setting up and clearing up must not be audible. And double check if another large event with catering will be taking place in the same location.
FOOD / DRINKS FLOW
- For large meetings, ensure that there are several serving stations and that the stations do not prevent the flow of people.
- Make sure everyone is served.
- Make sure there are clear signs if there are several rooms with catering.
- Brief the personnel well, let them serve the VIPs first.
- Check that there is a space somewhere to store the dishes (temporarily) underneath so that the staff can stay in position.
- If there are several breaks in the day: offer some variety.
- Mix standing and sitting. E.g. a sit down dinner and a standing dessert buffet.
- Remember to also offer non-alcoholic aperitifs and drinks.
- Order lunch for your team, and agree with your team when everyone will eat . You do not want your team to answer the questions at the desk with a mouth full of food ...
- If possible, try to link your conference or meeting. “Exercise is Medicine” promotes a healthy lifestyle: Offering yoghurt for breakfast instead of buttery croissants, no mayo in the sandwiches, etc.
- Make sure there is water on hand between the breaks: for your speakers in the auditorium and for your sponsors in the exhibition area.
- Plastic tableware and/or cutlery? Don't do it. It looks cheap.
- Prevent wasting food by ordering slightly less food than you need in terms of the number of participants? You will need less coffee for the welcome coffee than for the first morning coffee break. Ask the caterer whether there is anything that was not eaten (fruit baskets for example), if they can be neatly presented again during the next break.
- Ask your caterer what will happen to all the leftovers.
- Organise a tasting session with the caterer (with or without your client). For the wines as well as the menu.
- Provide some nice extras. Live cooking, special bar or drinks, a meet & greet with the chef... Always work with healthy, local products and suppliers.
- Check if there are any allergies or dietary requests. If you provide a separate menu make sure your guests know what to expect and who to turn to for questions.
- Check the requested set-up and decoration for the catering area.
- Coordinate the timing of speech and entertainment with your caterer, so he/she knows when to be ready.