Catering to a business crowd is hospitality on steroids. Because so much work gets done in business socials, food service and incidentals need to be top notch.
The importance of corporate hospitality has risen in recent years, so much so that some of the best universities offer MBAs that have everything to do with the topic. This might relate to the fact that a half-trillion dollars of the American economy is given to hospitality overall. So it stands to reason that economics guide the advancement of Los Angeles corporate caterers in particular, because of the nature of the industries based here.
Note that California State Polytechnic University in Pomona has one of the top-ranked hospitality management schools in the U.S. – and it is where many corporate catering careers are launched.
Stanford University also places a premium on catering and events, publishing a checklist of what its own departments must do when hosting events on its fabled Palo Alto campus. Its office of special events and protocol could be a checklist for anyone planning to serve a meal to five or 500 guests. We offer the highlights here as a best management practices to catered business events:
- Budget: Know what it is before you begin planning.
- Site: Is it appropriate for food and beverage service? What on-site food preparation is possible or restricted?
- Alcohol: Observe location licensing policies.
- Competitive bids: Talk to three vendors if over a set amount (for Stanford, it is $1500)
- Specify extent of services beyond food: tables and chairs? Staffing? Floral arrangements? Etc.
- Designate the menu selection person/persons: And identify if special dietary restrictions are to be catered to.
- Style/format of service?: seated, passed trays, buffet, etc.
- Site walk-through: Make sure your corporate caterers know the lay of the land in advance of the event by visiting the site, mapping out and confirming arrangements.
- Document in writing: Put everything on paper for clarity – and to cover your legal/financial commitments.
- Permits: Your business caterers need food and alcohol permits (think about this relative to food handlers and parking valet attendants as well, as required by the city of Los Angeles).
Even if these rules are followed to the letter there is no guarantee the food quality and selections will be up to expectations. This is where the softer side of business comes into play. The menu and how it is executed matter. The menu should be age appropriate. It should also be right for the time of day, for the venue, and (as hinted at in item #6 above) be right for the audience. If a noteworthy number of people in attendance abstain from eating pork due to their religious/cultural background, pork items in the menu are strongly discouraged, for example. Smart corporate caterers with a good reputation are skilled at accommodating diverse guest lists.
A great deal of hospitality, catering in particular, is learned at the school of hard work. But there’s nothing wrong with taking cues from those who study it – and, it seems, those who practice business-worthy catering in an academic environment.