The feedback we receive from delegates clearly shows that people remember two things about their venue experience; one is how they were treated, and the other is food.
Being made feel welcome and respected gives us all a warm glow. As for food, the quality of what is on offer at a venue can have a significant impact on overall satisfaction levels - and can even compensate for other weaker elements of the experience.
The thought and effort that goes into every booking is only ever truly appreciated by the booker and the venue team. Every detail is scrutinised, from technology and facilities to guest speakers and security. But when it comes to food, is it enough to know that lunch is included in the day delegate rate and the menu choices sorted, or should venue bookers be slicing through the layers to ensure the very best for delegates?
Here are some simple tips to ensure that the venue you are about to book has the right craft skills and a strong food development policy in place to meet your delegates’ tastes and expectations.
Share your vision
Consider how important the food is to your delegates and to your event. Share your vision with the venue team to give a clear specification of your expectations so that they understand your ethos and standards. The quality of the food will be remembered, and if it is poor, there is every chance that it may bite you right back by word of mouth.
Make a site visit
A good site visit should give vital clues and insight into a venue’s approach to food. Sample the food and keep an eye on the service and ambience. If possible, try to meet the executive chef or a member of the brigade. A happy, motivated team in the kitchen has a direct impact on the quality of the food on the plate.
From farm to fork
Seasonality, provenance and sustainability are all key ingredients behind a good menu so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask questions about where the venue sources its foods. Find out if they use farm assured meat and if their fish come from sustainable sources. Traceability, due diligence and health & safety kite marks all tell a story of a venue with high standards.
Keeping on trend
Check that the venue is tuned into the range of preferences and healthy eating styles beyond the specific dietary requirements. Well thought-out, balanced menus that reflect the current season and trends will give everyone a little of what they want. Presentation is important also so check out how the food is served. Contemporary over-sized china bowls, the use of wooden boards and slate all add to the eating experience.
Balancing price and quality
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of low prices as this can mean low craft skill levels, less scrupulous purchasing and the use of convenience foods such as bought in cake mixes.
Safe and healthy
Last but not least, before you commit to your booking, check out the venue’s food safety ratings. A high ranking shows best practise, ensuring that you and your delegates can enjoy the food with confidence and peace of mind.