What do you need to consider when choosing your corporate menu?

Selecting a meeting venue or function space for your next corporate event will inevitably lead you to a choice on catering. But faced with what cuisine to offer and how it should be delivered, what should guide your decision making in choosing a corporate menu?

Self-service, cocktail or seated?

One of the most essential decisions you can make for a corporate menu is how you serve your guests. Whether seated, cocktail or self-service, each option comes with its own benefits

Shorter events tend to be more suited to cocktail or self-service arrangements. They offer guests an opportunity to have a chat and stretch their legs – a welcome break from long periods of being focused and seated. Additionally, self-service provides your guests with more choice in their selection of food.

Seated service lends itself to more formal events, while providing more intimacy and a less hurried approach to the meal. A seated arrangement is useful for evoking a sense of occasion around the event and will ensure the meeting is more memorable.

Consider the background of guests

Although it is increasingly likely that your guests’ background will be diverse, you are still in a position to make a judgment call on what is most suitable to be served.

Consider, also, that guests who regularly attend functions or meetings such as yours are likely to show an extra appreciation for food that offers a new take or a different slant on the normal fare.

Consider dietary requirements and current food trends

The simple request to your guests of their dietary requirements will go a long way towards making the event enjoyable for them and their showing of gratitude towards you.

With the increasing awareness of the effects of diet on health, your guests will be extra appreciative if some thought has gone into ensuring the food is nutritious as well as delicious. Health-savvy guests will appreciate a menu that is light on carbs and heavy on quality and flavour.

Consider the season

Although ideally your corporate event will be catered for using fresh, seasonal and local produce, you can employ your discretion to guide the menu towards foods that suit the time of year.

Warm, heavier foods are more likely to go down well in winter, while fresh, lighter foods are more likely to be appreciated in summer.

Select fresh, flavoursome and visually appealing food

A menu that provides fresh, flavoursome and visually appealing food is likely to spark comment and create engagement between clients, employees and colleagues. Such a menu will also boost energy levels and morale and ensure that the meeting or event is more memorable for your guests.

Utilise the experience of your event manager

Event managers are a fountain of experience that should not be ignored. They are the ones best positioned to provide advice on catering for business meetings and corporate events, and good event managers and function centres will always be happy to consult and communicate during the planning stage.

Ask your event manager about past corporate menus, the choices other businesses have made and whether they have any suggestions for ensuring an interesting event. These words of wisdom can be an extremely useful guide for helping you to decide what might – and might not – make the cut for your final choice of corporate menu.

The perfect small wedding venue Melbourne

One of the most important things about your wedding is deciding how to choose your wedding reception venue. Of course you’ll have an image in your mind of exactly how you want your reception to pan out, but there’s no doubt that some if not all of these 12 factors will play a part in the final decision you make.

Weather/time of year

Where you choose to have your ceremony, let alone your reception, can have a major impact on your wedding day. If you live in a weather prediction-challenged city like Melbourne, simply relying on the time of year – or even the forecast – might not be enough, especially when you are planning often up to a year in advance.

If you’re happy to play it conservative, an indoor reception is always the safe choice. The alternative is to hedge your bets and choose a venue that combines the option to take the drinks and dancing inside should inclement weather arise.

Catering

The catering provided by your venue should match (and ideally exceed) your expectations in terms of service, quality and presentation. You will need to temper this choice based on budgetary considerations, the number of guests and how flexible the venue is in tailoring a menu to cater for any specific requirements.

Size

The size of the wedding reception venue will be a key consideration. It must be suited perfectly to the amount of guests attending, along with factoring in whether you are having a sit down or cocktail type of reception, whether there is appropriate seating, and what spaces remains for dancing and socialising.

Budget

The costs of the reception should not exceed your budget, with all elements of the final quote transparent and the events management staff willing to go over this with you.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere for your wedding reception venue is influenced by a range of factors, including location, dimensions and ambience. After making an initial shortlist for your final choice, be prepared to inspect each potential reception venue and apply a bit of imagination to how it will feel on the day or night.

Personnel/management

From the first point of contact with a reception venue, you will ideally be able to get a feel for the professionalism and experience of the management team. A little bit of research into their social media and website should provide evidence of well-run and presented wedding receptions. Nevertheless, an events management team who is willing to offer ongoing communication and consultation is always likely to provide you with effective support and expert advice.

Technical support

The wedding reception you end up choosing must be able to match your technical needs. Whether that is from the perspective of offering audio-visual support in terms of screens for slideshows or for the provision of speakers and microphones, these aspects can be crucial to both the formal and convivial elements of the evening.

Accessibility

Wherever you decided to hold your wedding reception, they will need to be able to provide for those guests who have limited movement and require assistance in access to the venue and its amenities.

Proximity to parking and transport

This becomes a key factor of your wedding planning depending on where the majority of your guests live. If guests live in the same city or state, but in its outer suburbs or regionally, they are more likely to need to drive and park their cars. Guests who live locally are happier to take public transport, taxis or an Uber.

Reputation

Word of mouth is a powerful indicator of reputation. Even if a venue hasn’t been referred to you directly, you need only ask a few in your social circles to see whether anyone has had any experience with it. Failing that, the internet provides a decent indicator as to a venue’s reputation; a significant amount of negative feedback with similar complaints is a red flag!

Decorations

Some wedding receptions call for added decorations to the event space, particularly if there is a theme uniting elements of the wedding. Whether it’s as simple as floral arrangements and table settings, or a more complex element such as lighting, balloons and wall and ceiling decorations, ensure your reception manager is willing to offer pre-wedding access and assistance in erecting these.

Entertainment facilities

Your chosen reception venue must be able to cater for any entertainment you choose, whether band, DJ or otherwise. Some venues have their own recommended providers, while you might be able to hire these externally. The latter choice will require increased planning elements and communication, but a good reception venue will be amenable to helping you through this process.

Meeting and conferences Melbourne

If you already have the space at the office, heading offsite for a work meeting or for a training day might seem counterproductive. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are many far-reaching benefits for your business and employees that you can reap simply by scheduling your training day or work meeting offsite. Here we look at 7 reasons why you should consider a change in scenery.

New scenery, fresh thinking

You might have already experienced it yourself day-to-day, but the physical act of changing your scenery can also change your thinking. By moving out of your regular four walls, you can free yourself, your employees and your colleagues from the same old way of getting things done. This will allow you space to discover different ways of looking at problems and more diversity in the delivery of solutions.

Break down the barriers of hierarchy

Our workplaces are set up, either consciously or sub-consciously, to support artificial barriers of hierarchy. These barriers include offices, desks, chairs and cubicles – even which floor employees are located on.

Away from these barriers and on an even footing, employees are given the chance to relax around each other. This provides the perfect opportunity to use to the full extent the human resources available. Employees are given the chance to open up to their bosses, management can be more open to new ideas and everyone can start to think outside the box.

Increase productivity

Any way that employees can break up their routine working week will be welcome. An offsite meeting or training day mid-week is likely to result in employees getting more and better work done on the days falling either side. The change in scenery is something to look forward to and to reflect upon afterwards, which will naturally increase the benefits arising from the meeting or training day.

Increase morale

Employees like to know that their boss cares for them with a catered day or afternoon away from the office and in comfortable surrounds. And when employees know that an extra cost is involved, they will repay their boss with a boost in morale – good for staff, good for their boss and good for business.

Amenities and service of event provider

Good event management teams run like well-oiled machines in the background, especially if this is something they do on a regular basis. Events run efficiently and effectively, from planning right up through delivery, allow you to focus simply on the presentation or delivery of training – and your staff on the content therein.

Build team and team culture

People who share a common experience tend to come away from it with increased lines of communication and better relationships. Not only are these better for team cohesion in the workplace, but these relationships mean that people discover the different human resources around them, which leads to increased productivity back in the workplace.

Boost team health

Looking after the ongoing health of employees in an office setting is too often shunned. While this may be due to the low risk of acute injuries, there is no difference between acute or chronic injuries when employees are taking sick days.

Having an offsite meeting or training day outdoors or away from the inner sanctum of an artificially-lit office will provide movement, fresh air and vitamin D to your team. These intangible benefits translate to boosted morale, increase productivity and fewer sick days, which is an all-round win for employees, bosses and the business.

Christmas party venue Melbourne

The stereotypical image of a Christmas party is one of overindulgence, regrets, bad dancing and worse karaoke. But work Christmas parties are important for many reasons, and besides marking the anticipation of holidays and a break from work, Christmas parties serve some essential workplace functions.

Incentive

Not many businesses have the resources to grant cash incentives or Christmas bonuses to their employees. By pooling resources together, however, smaller businesses can effectively reward their employees all at once with a Christmas party celebration. This is an effective way to mark and recognise contributions while also providing an anticipatory incentive to employees in the lead up to the day.

Team building

Yes, alcohol can grease the wheels of conversation and open new relationship pathways, but team building is a tremendously important part of business success. People who know each other through shared experience are more willing to work harder for each other and are more likely to seek help when needed. Not only this, but a greater understanding of the human resources available in the company means there is more likely to be a better usage of those resources and skills.

And while it might not be appropriate or healthy to engage alcohol as a regular social facilitator, the work Christmas party is a widely acceptable occasion for socialising over convivial drinks.

Connection to the community

One of the intangible benefits of throwing a Christmas party is its place in culture and tradition. By tapping into this shared experience of the festive season and everything it means to families and the community, employees are likely to feel engaged and a part of something greater than simply another day in the office.

Mixing business and pleasure

Many businesses now operate in a non-stop cycle, or are responsive to increased demand over the summer and holiday period. Holding a Christmas party either earlier in the year or well before Christmas Day is one solution to these demands, while another is to use the party as an opportunity to mix business with pleasure.

An increasing number of businesses do this by using the first half of the day to conduct meetings, hold recognition presentations, establish goals for the new year or map out strategies for the holiday period. After getting through the day’s business, they use the opportunity of being offsite to get the Christmas party celebrations underway.

Contribution to work culture

The above benefits combine in a cumulative way to contribute to healthy workplace culture. This is something that may seem intangible and hard to identify, but is one of the most essential parts of a successfully-run business.

If employees feel that their efforts are recognised, that they are treated and viewed as human beings who are allowed to express themselves, if they are given the opportunity to celebrate and socialise without impediment, chances are that your workplace culture will be healthy and your business can only benefit.

Valensia Function Centre has some of Melbourne's finest seasonal food.

It’s one of those things: we’re aware that seasonal food is good for us and that we should make more efforts to source it. Often, however, if we’re out and about we cave to the convenience of our smashed avocadoes in July or, if a recipe calls for it, our mangoes in May.

But what exactly are the benefits of seasonal food? Why should we be more diligent in sourcing seasonal and, ideally, local produce?

Cheaper cost

The most tangible benefit of buying seasonal food is its cost.

The cost of transit, refrigeration and even simply producing a food outside its natural life cycle and far from its natural climate is expensive. And there’s no second prize for guessing who those costs are passed onto.

Fresh, local and seasonal produce is cheaper than the alternative. With a higher natural supply, and reduced transportation and storage costs, the result is cheaper, better quality food for you.

Better for the environment

The lower costs associated with overland transit to urban centres mean a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and refrigeration. Not only this, but food produced in season takes more advantage of natural sunshine and rain cycles. Seasonal food requires fewer or no chemicals for artificial growth stimulation, which means less impact on the surrounding natural environment.

Improved quality and taste

Food that covers large distances needs to be preserved so that it doesn’t rot. There are various methods for doing this, and one of these is harvesting the produce before it is ripe. Other methods of preservation include spraying the food with chemicals to delay ripening, or spraying them to facilitate ripening once instore.

Food harvested early doesn’t get the chance to reach its full flavour and nutrient potential, and you will be able to see this in its appearance. For one of the best arguments for seasonal food available, compare the pale, out-of-season store tomatoes to those sitting ruby-red in the marketplace come summer.

Better for the community

One of the best reasons for choosing locally sourced and seasonal fruit and vegetables is that it supports local producers. These producers are a part of our community, not foreign-owned corporate interests. The simple decision to choose their produce over chemically enhanced and imported food has a positive impact on their lives and the communities they service and support.

Better for you

More nutrients and fewer chemicals in the produce means more nutrients and fewer chemicals in you.

Produce picked and packed out of season, and transported over large distances, can be coated in wax or even zapped with radiation to prevent it rotting. While these processes aren’t known to cause great harm, ask yourself what you’d prefer to eat: an irradiated apple or one freshly picked?

Fortunately, living in the internet age means that discovering which foods are in season has never been easier, with easy-to-read seasonal charts in abundance. So do your hip pocket, the community and yourself a favour, and start to make the shift to buying seasonal food.