In-person experiences are the secret to successful events. This is what has kept the events industry afloat in a world where we are slowly becoming more and more isolated and detached because of technology.
Live experiences keep people engaged during events and offer them an array of sensations, emotions, and new thoughts. You already know this. However, have you ever wondered what an event experience actually means?
According to event expert Kevin Van der Straeten, “An experience must stimulate the senses. This will provoke a physical reaction amongst the audience, such as laughter or amazement. The experience must also induce a sense of involvement and commitment amongst the audience."
Obviously, there’s a multitude of activities that will help you stimulate your attendees’ senses. But one of the most important is event catering.
As Kevin notes, "The culinary aspects of an event play a large part in determining overall guest satisfaction. Eating has a direct influence on the perceived experience of the event. It therefore pays to give this important element of your programme the attention it deserves."
The way you design the catering experience can make or break your entire event. You can provide a standard lunch break or a dinner, or you can offer a 'WOW' experience to your attendees that they’ll remember and talk about months after the event.
If you decide to go with the latter, here’s a list of recommendations you may want to consider:
Arrange a self-service bar
You want to avoid giving people too many options because they’ll face “analysis paralysis” and not be able to make a decision. The multitude of choices might overwhelm them.
However, this doesn’t apply to food and an open service bar, because when it comes to food and drinks, people will go after what they want in no time.
An important detail to remember, though, is to make sure to add a few self-service bars so people won’t have to wait in long lines. You can even set up different bars with the various types of food to create a better guest flow.
Invite a cocktail pro for a quick master class
Mesmerize your guests with cocktail master classes. Yes, we’re talking about people who play with fire and take the acrobatic skills of a mixology expert to an extreme.
This show will entertain a large crowd and rejuvenate the attendees’ energy after a long, tiring day. However, you’ll want to schedule the mixology master class at the end of the day. After all, people will want to try the cocktails and enjoy the exciting show.
Run a culinary show
Do you know what type of online content has one of the highest levels of views and engagement? Food-related content. People love spending hours and hours watching others cooking or baking, even though they might never try to recreate the same dishes at home.
Why? Who knows? But watching others create elaborate dishes may be an extremely interesting and entertaining experience you can provide at your event.
Offer bento box launches
A bento box is not your typical packed lunch. The idea comes from the Japanese culinary tradition and represents a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal. Just do a quick Google search of Japanese bento boxes and you’ll see how carefully and thoughtfully the food is placed in these containers.
So why not combine the Western idea of a bento box with the Japanese version and give your guests cute food packs? I guarantee it will get almost everyone to take out their phones and snap a photo of their lunch.
Serve slow coffee
By “slow coffee,” we mean providing a totally different coffee break experience. Usually, during a coffee break, your attendees will go in the hall or wherever the coffee is stationed and pour some coffee or tea from a thermos into a small little plastic or Styrofoam cup.
But instead of the traditional, boring coffee break, invite a few coffee experts who could use different types of brewers (from cold brew to Chemex) and demonstrate specific coffee-serving rituals.
Obviously, this kind of coffee break might be a bit more time-consuming, but your guests will definitely appreciate this thoughtful ritual that will get them to slow down and connect with each other more.
The culinary experience of your guests doesn’t need to be complicated or overly sophisticated. Providing your guests with a riveting catering experience should be a combination of both familiar and new. That’s why we recommend you incorporate a bit of a show or entertainment into the catering to catapult it from just “typical food and drinks served at an event” to a long-lasting memory.