In an ever-changing landscape, event planners need to stay up-to-date with the latest in experiences and event catering. Get this right and your guests are guaranteed an unforgettable experience. Here's our top tips for organising your banquet or gala event...

1. Think Destination Specific Food

For large events it’s likely that guests have travelled to get to your event, so it’s the perfect opportunity to show off all your venue’s location has to offer. This could be local produce, culinary experts, or local attractions. Venues such as Bristol Zoo situated right next to Bristol’s famous Clifton suspension bridge offers your guests something a little different and can create a unique ambience or experience they won’t forget.

79% of consumers are open to trying new types of cuisines they’ve not had before, so why not hire a native restaurateur to serve up lunch or dinner featuring your destination’s famous foods and flavours.

2. Serve up some Local Beverages

At your event, your attendees might want a drink or two. Just like location and flavours, they’ll love to experience something out of the usual. Beer and wine from nearby microbreweries and distilleries will provide your guests with a truly local experience. There’s currently a huge buzz around English wine which is growing in popularity, with approximately 1,800ha of land under vine, more than 450 vineyards and around 3.15m bottles produced a year. However, it’s not all about the plonk, locally produced soft drinks and craft sodas are becoming increasingly popular and are a great alternative for non-drinkers and designated drivers. Why not partner with a local supplier and put on a tasting session during your event.

3. Include Nutritional Information

There’s currently a greater demand for more detailed nutritional information. Two thirds (67%) of consumers want to know the nutritional information of every dish on the menu and an increased demand for transparency around how our food is sourced.

More and more restaurants are adding nutritional information to their menus, or displaying the information on their websites, despite it not yet being a legal requirement. Guests are becoming ever savvy about what they’re eating and its effect on their health and wellbeing. The food you’re serving will make a real difference to the experience your guests have and take away from your event. And that all starts with spot-on menu planning.

51% of diners are more willing to try an unfamiliar ingredient if it offers a health benefit, so why not plan your menu around wellbeing and health benefits introducing new and unusual flavours and ingredients.

4. Leave Time to Grab and Go

At more corporate focused events, guests are likely to be there for one reason: networking. Give guests an opportunity to grab a meal and get back to work quickly. Heavy sit down and sleep-inducing meals will hinder productivity and convenience remains king in the eyes of today’s consumer. But convenience doesn't mean menus have to be unhealthy or simple, ‘quick and easy’ fixes. Why not bring in some unique pop-ups to let hurried diners get a taste of local flavours on the move.

You could also try introducing innovative and environmentally savvy ways to serve and hold food while working the room. 

5. Provide Experiences not Products

In today’s climate It’s all about experiences, not products. Your food can be the focus and event itself. Food can be the star of your event through immersive experiences that serve up your message with a side of fun. Jump on board the latest trend and provide an experience guests can’t get anywhere else. Food festivals are more popular than ever and music festivals are upping their foodie game so why not incorporate this angle into an event.  

Attendees of all generations love the experience of learning how to cook what they’re eating. Why not offer a tour of your professional kitchen plus an interactive cooking class of local produce can give attendees memories they won’t forget. 

6. Say No To Boring Buffets

Rubbery chicken nuggets, soggy lettuce salad and rock hard garlic bread. Boring buffets are on the way out. Food needs to be highly personalised leaning more and more towards letting your attendees choose what they want to be served. The latest food trend ‘Eat With Your Eyes’ observed the potential for food and drink to involve more of the senses through colour, shape, fragrance, and other formulation elements. In 2018, the sound, feel, and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important to companies and consumers alike.

Why not pledge to ban the boring buffet! Event trends are leaning toward providing real choices, and younger generations are expecting it. Adding exciting, unusual branded elements to food and beverages will ensure your event is photographed and shared on social media.

7. Introduce a Sugar Levy

It’s 10 pm and your attendees have sat through the awards and presentations and they’re hungry again. It’s snack time! With buffets traditionally offering high-glycemic food and drinks — sugary snacks might not be the best idea. The inevitable crash will leave your attendees lethargic and cranky for the journey home. With the implementation of the sugar levy, reformulation to reduce sugar has been one of the key drivers of new product development (NPD) in the non-alcoholic drinks market. Over a fifth of new product launches in the UK the carried a low/no/reduced sugar claim in 2017, compared to just 16% in 2014. Why not... put the focus on protein if you don’t want to host a snoozefest.

8. Provide for a Range of Dietary Needs

It’s a huge disappointment when a guest arrives at an event and can’t actually eat anything that is served due to dietary restrictions. This causes logistical headaches for the participant and takes away from the positive experience they have at the event as a whole. Vegan food is crossing into the mainstream like never before, popping up on the menus of popular restaurants and even fast-food chains. As consumers begin to realize the effects of meat on their health, as well as its carbon and water footprints, diners, are demanding a full “A la Carte” dining experience and rise in hyper-personalisation.

Expectations are high to meet dietary needs. During the event registration process, why not ask if guests have any special dietary needs. Then follow up with them before arriving on site to make sure they are comfortable that they will have meals they can eat—and enjoy. Create specialized menus that take into account all the possibilities: gluten free, nut allergies and more.

9. Reduce Your Food Waste

According to recent research, there are around 10 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK. If you put a financial figure against that’s about £17bn a year. Large hospitality industry players need to commit to reducing their environmental impact by cutting down on carbon, energy, water, and waste. the hospitality industry’s environmental footprint will only expand. Effective waste management practices will become critical to maximizing profits and reducing resource consumption. Why not try and identify your restaurant menu items that usually have the most leftovers and consider reducing the portion size of these menu items. In this way not only will you reduce the quantity of waste but also reducing the food cost of cooking and automatically increase profit.

10. Cap your Bottled Water 

With the plastic pollution crisis and the rising trend for ‘raw’ water (untreated, unfiltered water) - consumers are turning their backs on bottled water. While we wouldn’t recommend drinking water from rivers and stagnant ponds, tap water is increasingly becoming the prefered choice of consumers. Six in ten UK adults who buy bottled water would stop buying water that was harming the area’s natural resources.

Millennials are also much less likely to drink and the more health conscious wellness-focused consumers are also turning their backs on alcohol, but still looking for a premium nonalcoholic experience. Why not try including some interesting and unusual alternative to alcohol and bottled water like the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits from Seedlip.  

Want to plan a unique banqueting experience? Take a look at our banquet and gala venues here. 

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