When you’re a New York event planner, you know the value of having all the best vendors ready to partner with you for any event. But your catering roster of partners may be one of your most valuable. Meal service at your event can make or break the experience entirely. And even with the best catering providers in your corner, there is still room for mishaps and mistakes. So, how can you be sure to deliver award-winning, Instagram-worthy dinner service for every event? You can take advantage of these insights, for starters.
1. Communicating Expectations to Caterers
Whether you have a trusted catering partner on speed dial or not, communication with your chosen service provider is essential. You’ll need to lay out every aspect of your menu selection, guest preferences, and event dynamics. Caterers won’t deliver the way you want if they don’t know what you want. So, be thoughtful and deliberate about sharing the details, including:
- Attendee Headcount
- Venue Layout & Offerings
- Event Themes & Aesthetics
- Customer Service
- Meal Service Timelines
- Setup & Clean Up
2. Communicating Expectations to Your Event Clients
Remember, your clients may not be as versed about event planning as you are. So, when your client says they want to have coffee at their event, you’ll need to verify if they mean a self-service coffee station, coffee service at the table, or a custom coffee bar. Communicating the event details and ironing out expectations with your client will ensure you know precisely what to ask of your event partners and caterers.
3. Communicating Expectations to Your Event Guests
You don’t want to fall short with your event guests at meal time, either. Once you’ve determined what your event client wants and shared those goals with your chosen catering partner, you can then share those meal details with your attendees. Avoid disappointing those who think they’re coming for a prime rib dinner when in fact, it’s a buffet-style serving of BBQ ribs. Don’t promise custom cocktails if your event client is only providing draft beer. When you’re able to deliver what the attendees expect, they’ll be delighted.
4. Collaborate for Contingency Planning
Even with the best intentions and complete transparency in communication, meal service issues will arise. Today’s event planners know the most important aspect of any catering plan is the contingency strategy. What can you do to prepare yourself should there be an equipment breakdown during dinner preparation? What can you do to substitute if your dessert table collapses and ruins every last tart and cupcake? Work with your caterer to create a backup plan and problem-solving strategy to tackle whatever problems arise.
What are some of your best practices for delivering top-notch meal service at your events? Consider these key elements for any event planning strategy and hit a home run with every coordinated catering effort.
Don’t forget, too; it’s time to get on the waitlist for The Event Planner Expo 2023! Get all the meal service insights and find all the best catering partners this October in New York City.