Gala Dinners and Banquets tend to be formal large meals that serve a purpose, such as a charitable gathering, ceremony or celebration. But formal doesn’t have to mean boring.
When hosting a banquet you have the opportunity to open up guests to some extraordinary experiences, dramatic sets and theming. Great food, great drink, great atmosphere. Two of the most critical elements of the banquet are of course the food, and the venue. Get these right and your guaranteed a successful evening.
The venues and food you choose to serve are key to creating the perfect backdrop and atmosphere that will ensure your event is unforgettable for all the right reasons. It’s your chance to create some wonder and a touch of theatre. Don’t forget you’re bringing people together for a common goal. Banquets are popular because they effortlessly give an event a focus, whether it’s a party, a ceremony or a dinner dance. The act of sitting and dining brings people together to eat and get to know each other, offering somewhere relaxed and natural for people to network at ease.
But how do you pull off a spectacular Gala Dinner or Banquet event? Here are the 5 main areas you need to focus on:
Food Glorious Food
Banquets and Gala Dinners are all about the food. The quality, service and the delivery of your menu are crucial. With 42% of all event feedback being about the food; this isn’t just about filling tummies and quickly moving on to the next part of the evening, this is about food being a talking point. The food you serve will be the highlight of the evening and if it isn’t on point, guests won’t forget it in a hurry. Whether you choose to serve a traditional fare or something more creative, it has to be exceptional.
Food should be a conversation starter and a multi-sensory experience that delights. Think about how food will complement the evening at every stage. How does it make your guest feel? From when guests arrive to the entertainment and even the goody bags they take home, the food involved needs to be the star of the show.
Food can be served in a number of creative ways from sharing tables to pop-ups and dessert stations. Create a culinary experience for your guests that’s both delicious and out of the ordinary. You can also be inventive with the venue decorations to create an immersive environment for your guests to dine and socialise in.
The venue you choose needs to generate excitement around the event before the evening has even begun. Create a sense of anticipation around the evening by opting for a venue that intrigues and isn't usually associated with your sort of event. Many corporate events take place in hotels and stadiums and that’s OK, but deciding on a change of scenery and choosing a museum, music halls or bar could be the difference that makes your event ‘pop’. Consider architecturally celebrated and iconic landmarks. Somewhere with a real sense of place and wonder.
Secondly, you need to consider how easy it is for your guests to travel to and from your event. Is there appropriate space for parking? Is it close to transport links? Can your suppliers easily access the location with equipment and produce?
Whilst the majority of event organisers opt for the traditional black tie, introducing a theme can add a really unique twist to your event.
Try to avoid the same old overused themes such as Casino Royale, 1920’s Great Gatsby, Murder Mystery and get inventive. With endless possibilities and themes that complement the mood and purpose of your evening why opt for the overused safe choice that everyone has come to expect?
The right theme will help inform your menu choices, decor and entertainment and will allow your guests to dress up and celebrate in a way they hadn’t expected.
During the event, there shouldn't be a moment where guests are left wondering what next? Or what they should be doing. Gala Dinners and Banquets are the perfect occasions to create a sense of awe and pleasure, and take your guests on an unforgettable journey.
Providing entertainment doesn’t mean you have to lose the key message of the event in all the noise, it can reinforce it and even amplify it. Use the element of surprise to keep guests attention. Have multiple types of entertainment planned for the evening. Don’t be afraid to get guests involved and use your venue to its full potential moving between the spaces. This could be contributing to a graffiti wall or taking a selfie in a photo booth. Who doesn’t love participating in something a little out of the ordinary?
Don’t forget that creating a buzz around your event will get people excited and really looking forward to attending. Social media should be used on the run up to the event, counting down the days to the party and interacting with guests. Tease out competitions, details and other visual resources to get people talking. Have someone on hand to start promoting your event on all your social media platforms. Live Tweet and share photos and highlights from the evening. If you have entertainment planned make sure they’re also aware of the hashtag and social media channels so they can get involved.
And lastly… It’s time to get creative and throw everything you have at creating a sumptuous affair, but don't forget the purpose of your banquet. What will make it a success? How will you measure this? Having a clear purpose will provide you with a clear roadmap of how to get there.
And whatever the purpose it needs to resonate throughout the entire evening, from theme to dress code. Create an environment where your guests feel happy and relaxed and most importantly can enjoy themselves. The bulk of a banqueting event takes place behind a table, and where people sit will make a big impact on their experience of the event. Consider how you’re format is going to bring people together.
Want to find out more about how you can create ‘experience-driven’ events? Looking for an unusual venue for your next Banquet or Gala Dinner? Speak to one of our expert events team.
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