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Jan 2024

Your Easy Checklist For Planning A Corporate Dinner

If this is the first time you've been tasked with planning a corporate dinner for your team or boss and you're panicking, don't fear.

We get it, it can be overwhelming with the myriad of details to consider, from choosing the right venue to creating a menu that appeals to all attendees.

This is why we've created this simple checklist to planning a corporate event to see you through the panic. With a bit of careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a sophisticated, seamless event that impresses your clients (and most importantly your boss), leaving them talking for all the right reasons.

1. Get Clear On The Objectives

Before you begin planning, it's crucial to understand the purpose of your event. Is it a networking event? A client appreciation dinner? A company-wide celebration? 

Knowing the objective will guide every decision you make, from choosing the restaurant to selecting the menu. 

Ask questions like: What message does the company want to convey? Who are the attendees, and what are their preferences? What is the desired outcome of the event?

Pro Tip: Never be afraid to ask lots of questions at the start, your boss would far rather you get it right the first time than have to make expensive corrections the day before the event!

2. Selecting The Perfect Restaurant

The right restaurant can make or break your event. Consider factors like location—is it easily accessible for attendees?

Also, consider capacity, can it comfortably accommodate your guest list? Here at LoveLife, we cater for groups of up to 60 people with private hire options available as well, so if you're in the West Midlands, then consider LoveLife in Birmingham's city centre as a possible venue for your next corporate event.

Don't forget to assess the ambience, the restaurant should reflect the tone you want to set for your event. The menu should align with your attendees' tastes and dietary requirements, and importantly, the venue should fit within your budget. You'll likely need to visit the venues in person to get a true feel for the place. You could even score a cheeky lunch on behalf of your company under the ruse of tasting!

Selection of food & drink on a table with work colleagues sitting around a table.

3. Budgeting For The Corporate Event

Budgeting is an essential part of any event planning process. It's crucial to clearly understand your available funds and how best to allocate them. Consider all potential costs: venue rental, food and beverages, decor, entertainment, and contingencies. Prioritise your spending based on the event's objectives and your attendees' expectations.

4. Become Besties With The Restaurant Management

Establishing a good relationship with the restaurant management will be key to smooth operations on the day of your event. 

Discuss your requirements early on, does the restaurant need to provide a specific setup? 

Who will be responsible for the cleanup? Do they have plans in place for emergencies? Clear communication is key to preventing misunderstandings and last-minute surprises.

5. Planning The Menu

If the food isn't up to scratch, then the whole dinner will be a bust. 

We know planning a menu that appeals to all attendees can be challenging especially when you have to consider your guests' different dietary restrictions and preferences. 

The best way around this is to choose a restaurant that is known for it's excellent vegetarian or gluten-free options, this way you can cover most dietary needs with fewer options. If applicable, coordinate with the restaurant chef to create a menu that reflects the event's theme or purpose. 

6. Logistics

The layout of your event should align with its objective. If networking is the goal, arrange seating to encourage conversation. 

If there will be speeches, ensure all guests have a clear view of the stage. Don't forget about technology, ensure the restaurant can accommodate any audio-visual requirements you might have.

Hands holding Prosecco glasses with gold confetti falling around.

7. Ensuring A Smooth Flow Of The Event

In our opinion, there's no such thing as too organised, it's time to bring out your planners people!

A detailed event timeline can help ensure smooth transitions between segments and keep the event running on schedule. Include time for introductions, speeches, breaks, meals, entertainment, and closure.

Share this timeline with your team, the restaurant staff, and any external vendors to ensure everyone is on the same page.

8. Entertainment

When planning a corporate event in a restaurant, it is essential to consider the entertainment aspect as it has the power to transform an ordinary gathering into an extraordinary experience. Entertainment not only adds a fun element but also leaves a lasting impression on attendees, making the event more memorable.

The choice of entertainment should be carefully tailored to suit both the venue and the audience. Depending on the atmosphere of the restaurant, live music can create a great backdrop that sets the tone for the entire evening.

Alternatively, bringing in a guest speaker that aligns with your event's theme or objectives can get people talking about the event for days afterwards. This could be someone renowned in your industry or even a motivational speaker with a crazy story to tell.

Ultimately, whatever form of entertainment you choose should seamlessly blend into your overall objective for hosting the dinner whilst still appealing to all guests. Whether it is creating an enjoyable social environment where people feel at ease mingling or offering thought-provoking content that sparks insightful discussions – striking this balance ensures maximum engagement from every attendee.

9. Preparing For The Unexpected

Even professionals can experience surprises which is why having a contingency plan is crucial. From last-minute cancellations by key attendees to unexpected dietary requirements or technical glitches, be prepared to handle common issues that can crop up during events.

10. Post-Event Follow-ups

Don't forget about post-event tasks like follow-ups and feedback collection. Send thank you notes to attendees, solicit feedback for improvement, and track your success against the event's objectives. These tasks can provide valuable insights for your future events.

Final Takeaway

Hopefully, this easy checklist will be useful in planning your first corporate dinner. With these tips, you're well on your way to planning an event that impresses your clients and creates a memorable experience for attendees. Happy planning!

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