Be the event professional that client’s and guests trust!
One of the most important key ingredients (get it?) to guest satisfaction at any gathering is food and beverage. In fact, the majority of a client’s budget is spent wining-and-dining attendees. As event professionals we are responsible to ensure that each guest experience is unique and fulfilling, this includes ensuring that their experience is seamless, and they are fed and watered to their satisfaction.
Unlike in years past where guests with dietary restrictions or special needs would either eat before coming or just not attend, we are in the position to communicate and execute their needs, thus improving their experience. Each event or conference is different, but here are three key points to remember when creating your next menu to ensure ultimate guest satisfaction and safety. – Written by Afton Koutzun
1. Know the demographic!
There are many religions and cultures that require specialized preparation, a vegetarian diet or prohibit alcohol and certain types of meat or fish. While some groups may want to embrace our local delicacies, you still need to be aware of what may offend your guests. Ask questions as to how stringent regional or religious food preferences are and work with your caterer to integrate cuisine that your guests will be familiar with alongside our Canadiana fare.
2. Be prepared for day of requests
With food allergies on the rise globally, and a new diet out every week, the amount of “day of” requests is unpredictable! You know what we are talking about – those guests who leave the dietary restrictions/allergies section empty when they register and either the guest or their date can’t eat the meal you prepared for them. Suddenly your catering staff is hustling to prepare more specialty meals all while keeping service on time. To prepare for this situation, ensure your vegetarian meals are gluten free and order 3% more than your total guest count. If they are not used, offer them to your volunteers, staff, and suppliers.
3. Communication is Key
As the conduit between the guest and the caterer a great guest experience starts with your relationship with the Chef and culinary team. Pairing this with a comprehensive and detailed registration system and special needs communications plan will ensure success! When in doubt label everything! Generally only the most common allergies and dietary restrictions are listed – gluten, nuts, dairy, shellfish. It may a bit more work for your caterer or print shop, but being clear on every label for every item can save you a lot of work answering questions. Be sure to decide with your caterer whether you will be phrasing the labelling as “contains ___” or “___-free”, and don’t forget about sauces, dressings, and dips.
Be the event professional that client’s and guests trust and take the extra time to ensure that attendees needs are detailed, executed and guaranteed.