Waiters with welcome drinks

Whether you’re catering for a party of 10 or a party of 500, if you’re hosting an event, it’s a serious investment – of your time and money. The result you want to achieve? A roomful of happy, satisfied guests.

I’ve learned that people will forget what they saw, people will forget what you eat and drink, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

The very first thing people will comment on is your hospitality, did I get a drink when I first arrived, did I get it topped up, how was the food, could I eat it easily and was there enough for the occasion? In order to make sure nothing goes wrong, you need to know what can go wrong. Here are a few ideas:

  • Where’s my drink? People need to be occupied to feel comfortable when they enter a function. Being occupied means having a drink in your hand. People feel more comfortable when they have a drink, alcoholic or not in front of their chest . This is why it’s a good idea to have drink waiters standing at the entrance with a good selection for guests to choose from. If they’re not at the entrance, they better be nearby.
  • Where’s my next drink? The first drink will go down quickly, so make sure you have wait staff ready to top up glasses within a few minutes of the event starting. The only thing worse than no glass, is an empty glass to glance at every few seconds.
  • I’m hungry. Serve the first round of canapés quickly and at the same time as the drinks service so that people don’t compensate with a second or third drink. Take the food to the people and not the other way around, after all ats all about service and hospitality – don’t make them hunt for it.
  • Top me up. Ensure staff are alert to any top up or other needs, ask the staff to look around not just were they are going to they will notice someone is looking for them– and again – take the drinks to the people, not the other way around.

Once your guests have a couple of drinks, and a few canapés to nibble on, they’ll start to relax and mingle – their basic needs taken care of. The same principles apply once guests sit down for a meal

There are of course a few considerations to make sure these things happen. First of all, that you have sufficient wait staff for the number of guests attending, staffing ratios are important to service, the more staff the better the service and the guest experience. Secondly that the wait staff are properly briefed and trained, and most importantly, that you have a service plan to follow.

I often will write a out a service plan and ensure that the staff are briefed on what will happen and what is expected, I recently wrote a Front of House service plan of some fifty pages long for 150 staff and ran training sessions leading up to the event to ensure this was planned and not shot from the hip.