Guide to Hosting a Business Lunch or Dinner
Hosting a business lunch or dinner takes precise planning and close attention to details. The amount of effort involved may depend on whether you’re responsible for six, 60 or 600 guests. Just stick to your original plan, and no matter what the size of the job, you’ll get through it successfully.
A step-by-step guide can help to get your hosting job done right.
1. First, be sure to get answers to the basic questions after determining the time of day or night, and most convenient location for attendees. Some of the questions may include:
a. What restaurant should you select?
b. What will be on the menu?
c. Who pays for the event?
d. If one party pays, what will be the budget?
e. If individual attendees pay, how is the money to be collected?
f. Who computes entire cost and pays, including tips?
2. Poll the attendees at least several days in advance for menu choices, including vegetarians and others requiring special diets. Notify the restaurant management of the information to help in the preparations.
3. If transportation is required to be booked for attendees, including those with special needs, make arrangements on the times and places for pick-up and return.
4. If your dinner or lunch event will be attended by families with small children, you may have to arrange a private area for the children, hire a babysitter, and also determine a menu featuring children’s items.
5. When arranging for seating for your group, if there are eight or less, ask for an isolated area of the regular restaurant facility. If the group is larger, rent a private dining room, or for a very large group of attendees, book a hotel auditorium.
6. If hosting duties also include arranging a special program to take place during the event, find out what is expected. You may have the extra duties to book live music, disc jockey or other type of entertainment.
7. If there will be a live speaker, you’ll need to arrange for the required microphone and other audio equipment, and if necessary, video projection. Be sure all of that required equipment is in place and tested by the time the lunch or dinner begins. Determine if those extra expenses are included in your budget.
8. Before the event takes place, go over your plans thoroughly, to be certain you’ve accounted for every detail, as well as the unexpected. For example, you should have a back-up plan in case the event must be canceled or postponed at the last minute because of weather, work strike or other reason.
9. If special security is needed, you’ll need to check if restaurant management will provide it, or hire one or more guards just for your lunch or dinner group. Their duties may include quietly and gently taking care of possible problems caused by guests who have had too much to drink.
10. Keep a detailed account of your planning, producing and costs of the event, including what went right and what went not so right. Learn by the experience, and if required to host another business lunch or dinner, the next time it can run more smoothly and successfully.
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