We’re all hearing it loud and clear–corporate events are back. Workers want corporate meetings and conferences this year, and events teams are happy to oblige. But what’s that going to look like, in this new post-pandemic world? What does the corporate event catering field look like now?
Don’t worry—we’ve got the answers to your burning questions.
As companies race forward with corporate meetings and conferences, things will look slightly different–this is to be expected. To plan well-attended events this year, embrace these popular corporate event catering trends and leave the rest aside..
Hybrid and Virtual Corporate Meetings Are Here to Stay (For Awhile Longer, At Least)
It’s been over two years since virtual events took the corporate world by storm. Technology has stepped up and made managing virtual events like meetings, fundraisers, and galas easier to pull off and more interactive for attendees.
Surprisingly, virtual events opened the door to new possibilities and advantages to corporate meetings. In fact, a recent survey of industry associations found that 70 percent of them intended to make permanent changes to how they run business events.
However, while everyone is now comfortable with virtual gatherings, people miss meeting co-workers in person. According to Forbes, 84 percent of executives say they prefer in-person meetings, which is why hybrid meetings are set to be the next big trend for catering services. Hybrid events combine the best elements of hosting in-person meetings and virtual events—multiple venues for multiple audience types.
How can you meet the catering needs of virtual and hybrid event attendees?
Everyone’s gotta eat—so if you’re virtual, keep in mind that your product team needs to be fed.
Mobile catering solutions like boxed lunches may be your go-to, and with our partner network of 320+ food trucks and restaurants, Off The Grid can help you feed your virtual attendees wherever they are.
For the in-person corporate event catering and company holiday parties, consider prepackaged meals and similar small share plates. Pop-up tents and food carts can provide a more fluid space for attendees to mingle and while wait staff can keep their distance easily.
Take Those Corporate Retreats Outdoors
With travel restrictions lifted and vaccinations available, corporate retreats will be making a comeback this year (though perhaps, slightly more al fresco than years before). Rather than sit inside an event space, companies will look at options in the great outdoors to host all kinds of upcoming corporate meetings, retreats, and events.
Expect to see yoga, wellness, and healthy nutrition taking center stage in corporate gatherings. When you’re planning the corporate event catering for your outdoor retreat, focus on inviting open-air dining options like pergolas, tents, and mobile food trucks. Keep in mind that while corporate events might be smaller this year, it won’t slow down the pace for larger events in the years ahead.
Corporate Event Catering Geared Toward Millennials
Millennials make up the largest segment of the U.S. labor force, which means they’ll be calling the shots when it comes to company events and meetings in 2022. Since corporate event catering is shaped by who shows up to events, meeting planning will need to focus on what Millennials want if it’s going to be a hit.
So what do Millennials want out of their events? The top things are networking, experiences, travel, sharing on social media, and new technology.
As you plan your next corporate meeting or conference, focus on event spaces and corporate event catering that can meet these needs and facilitate those experiences. Tented spaces provide a comfortable outdoor environment for networking face-to-face in a safe way. For photogenic options, think local food trucks (with their often Instagrammable logos) to create decor for a share-worthy brand experience at your corporate gathering.
And if you’re wondering what to feed hungry Millennials? Top catering menu trends include sweet and spicy, plant-based foods, meals in bowls, bbq, gluten free appetizers, and farm-to-table eating. Mix up these options with savory hors d’oeuvres and entrees that meet a variety of Millennial appetites.
A New Focus On Sustainability For Corporate Event Catering
Event food trends have shifted in recent years, focusing on healthier options and sustainability. There has been a significant shift in what is desired at events in terms of menu options and event styles.
New research shows that sustainability is a top priority for corporate-event planning. Aspects of sustainability include total distance traveled by attendees, electricity consumption, carbon dioxide emissions for travel and on-site activities, and the environmental impact of the corporate catering services.
Companies that take note of what type of tableware is used and what trash options are available will go a long way. Off the Grid only uses compostable tableware and always has bins out to sort trash, recycling and compost.
So, what can you do to make your next corporate event more sustainable?
- Partner with event spaces and rentals that use clean energy.
- Consider avoiding one-time-use paper products, choose reusable linens for indoor receptions and meetings onsite.
- Host special events in outdoor spaces that are environmentally friendly.
- Eat local—select a caterer that has sustainable and local delicious food and create a custom menu for your event.
- Use sustainable materials and trash disposal practices.
Corporate event planning is changing rapidly, and event planners will need to keep up with these changes to stay on top of their game.
Put Health and Safety First For Meetings and Events
In 2022, mask and vaccine ordinances will be at the forefront of hiring event catering services and planning future corporate meetings. Check with your state and city to ensure that your event complies with recent ordinances.
For California corporate meetings and events, that means masks are required indoors for all unvaccinated workers, and employers must document employees’ vaccination status. And if you’re in surrounding Bay Area cities like Oakland or San Francisco, the ordinances may go further in their requirements.
How will these requirements change corporate event catering?
Choose a top-notch catering company that serves food efficiently and safely. Not a lot has changed since last year, but with vaccination rates higher, you can now expect higher attendance at in-person meetings, so there will be a heightened priority of health and safety measures.
This includes sanitation and hygiene planning, flexibility for postponing events, and more use of outdoor spaces.
Savor Success With Off The Grid Corporate Event Catering
Need help with your next event? We help our clients with corporate events and celebrations, conference planning, employee benefits, “surprise and delight” moments, and everything in-between.
With access to our network of the best San Francisco Bay Area food options, we streamline your event with a dedicated full-service Catering Producer that coordinates every detail for your event date.
Curbside, inside or outside, we curate moments that are as diverse and thoughtful as the local, small food businesses we work with. Let’s chat.