Make More Impact For Events
Considerations for better first impressions in banquets and catering.
We all know first impressions have a lasting impact, whether you’re entering a restaurant, arriving at an awards reception, experiencing a conference’s afternoon break, or attending a welcome breakfast. The style, design, finesse, and functionality all play an impactful role in the guest’s impression of the event, food quality, and even service. Selecting the right types of buffetware and accessories can be tricky and expensive, so having the right plan is critical to attain the right look, service strategy, and functionality while balancing the budget at hand.
Prioritizing the Opportunity
Budgets are always tight, and buffet equipment is not cheap. Instead of trying to spread the money over the entire operation, prioritize the opportunity to identify the area with the biggest guest and financial impact. This could be breakfast, coffee breaks, evening receptions, buffet lunches, etc. In addition, evaluate how the service strategy will create a competitive advantage. The event experience is changing rapidly, with multiple chef action stations, individually plated small plates, and interactive experiences. Determine which is best for the operation while creating a strategy to prioritize the area opportunity with the available funds to create and build something special.
It’s a Marathon not a Sprint
Annual budgets are not magic wands; they will not solve all your problems in one swish. So, it is important to leverage both annual budgets and monthly operating statements to identify when and what amount of funds will be available. Plan on setting aside funds from the monthly operating statement to continue to add to the equipment to complete the look. Know that this is an ongoing process. Once one area is finished, it is time to move to the next. In some cases, where equipment such as chafing dishes have gone well past their active life, it may be necessary to submit a plan as part of the capital investment process to acquire additional funds.
Know Before You Buy
Buffetware and their accessories are unique to most other food and beverage supplies in that they usually don’t have a place to be stored. Glasses have glass racks, plates have dish dollies, and buffet equipment usually goes wherever there is space. They don’t have special containers to store them in and can get easily damaged and destroyed in the first few weeks. Before buying any new equipment, take a look around and figure out the storage plan and process.
Style or Substance
When buying buffet equipment, should you be more concerned over durability or style? The easy answer is: it depends. It depends on the type, style, and brand messaging of your operation. A select service hotel may rely more on a durable product that has a design element that aligns with the hotel and is appealing to their core guest. In a luxury resort or urban lifestyle hotel, the experience is more about creating bespoke, unique experiences. In these operations many of the accent pieces may be one-off items found in the local markets or created specifically for the hotel by local artisans. Regardless, it is important to understand your positioning and find the right balance than meets your style. Don’t mix textures (glass with wood, rounds with squares, contemporary with traditional). That may sound basic but it works.
Talk and Look
There are many products available in the buffetware category, with more and more coming out each day. Some look really cool and innovative but wear quickly. Others have amazing designs and can prove to withstand the bang-bang of the back aisle but come with a price. In many cases, the innovation is coming from adjacent industries, such as retail, artisan markets, design stores, and even local caterers. The inspiration is all around us.
Member, Hotel F&B Corporate Editorial Advisory Board
President, LJ Trope & Co. LLC