Have you ever ran a banquet, or even attended one, only to wake up the next morning in the cold light of day, to list what you put in your body (or other people’s), and really analysed the return you, or they, got from the whole experience?
It’s a pragmatic exercise and either justifies or exposes the experience; on the good side, three or four bottles of champagne knocked back by a table of eight shortly after seeing a year’s worth of work justifiably rewarded at an industry event? OK, indulgent, but a fair trade off, a nice reward for a team, and a chance for them to come together and bond.
How about a monstrous five-course banquet; indulgent, creamy, big flavours, sweets, coffee, all washed down with bottles of wine, champagne, and cocktails in the bar after. Some decent conversation, shouted towards the two people either side of you, but never really being heard by anyone further away, bit of a dance, a hangover, maybe even a bit of ‘post enthusiastic’ dancing embarrassment. Business cards for people you can’t quite remember meeting.
A strong mantra from a well-respected publisher in the industry says, ‘if you’re p*ssed, p*ss off’; maybe you should have followed this advice before moving onto shots. At best, this is an expensive booze up that’s very difficult to justify to anyone, either in your business or personal life.
This booze culture at major banquets is being attacked from all sides, not least since the Presidents Club exposé at the beginning of the year which shone a light on waiting staff being openly assaulted by drunken revellers. The question was justly asked, who are all these people, eating and drinking in luxury settings across the UK, and what value do they add?
The truth is, for many, these are incredibly important charity fund raisers, team building exercises and reward programmes. No one should ever criticise business for rewarding and motivating staff, customers and clients. There is clearly value otherwise these events wouldn’t exist, but surely there is another way.
It’s interesting to project how societies of the future will view these banquets. In the same we picture Roman Orgies, Georgian Soiree’s; fat gentlemen drinking until they need to vomit in order to fit in more food, women treated as objects, wastes of food, money and resources. A pretty ugly picture, but you can imagine how a sceptical onlooker could see it, is it any wonder that during the 2008/9 financial crash, it was these events that were cut first.
Essentially, this sort of banquet is not really a faithful representation of an otherwise contemporary, ethical and ‘good’ industry; one that stands for information sharing, open communication, knowledge transfer, medical progress and creative enterprise.
It’s time to take a new look at banqueting and to drag it at least two centuries forward into a modern-day events landscape with modern day attendees. It’s about understanding that modern delegates are after more; ethical, authentic, no-wasteful events, that provide them with the opportunity to be social, expand their network and take business and personal value from the experience. A modern delegate who either has no option for healthy food, or non-alcoholic beverage, or worse, feels pressure to drink when they don’t want to, will quickly switch off from an event.
Equally, delegates in 2019 are social and connected, they want to talk (not shout) to a table of like-minded individuals, when the entertainment is not on, so the atmosphere needs to be right. Are they boring? No. Food can still be rich and delicious, but the option for health needs to be there, alcohol can and will be served, but not mandatory. They also want to dance and have fun, but with stimulating entertainment, and interesting content.
It’s time to send Bad Banquets into the history books, it’s time to get rid of the ugly parts of these events for good, and to develop events with a better culture, more heart, and a greater respect for those that are attending. At Lime Venue Portfolio, we’re running a campaign to ‘Ban Bad Banqueting’ and shine a light on the new wave of banquets that are getting this right.
It doesn’t take a complete revolution, just a new approach from the event organiser from the outset. The question should be, what sort of banquet do we want to organise? One from 2019, or one from 1819?
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