Growing numbers of corporate meeting planners are using technology, preferred dining programs and event companies to simplify service and control costs for large parties. How should restaurants respond to this growing need to manage expenses?

Top corporations report that controlling dining expense is a priority. In April 2016, 48% of corporate travel card and expense managers reported that they have or were considering steps to better manage meal spend.1

Clearly, private dining and events is big business for corporations. Dinova, the exclusive marketplace for business dining, estimates $750,000,000 is spent on private dining, meetings and events by companies in its network each year. Dinova represents 40% of the top 100 corporate companies in the U.S.

For restaurants, the stakes are high. Large business parties are highly profitable. Events also mean referrals and return visits from valuable business guests. Without doubt, being found by – and responding quickly – to event planners and corporate admins is crucial for restaurants to attract and retain this type of business.

Here’s a few tips from seasoned corporate event planners on ways restaurants can enhance their service:

MedForce Technologies:

  • Use email to respond quickly to inquiries. Planners can seldom wait two or three days to hear back on available dates.
  • Post photos of private dining spaces online. They can be easily screened for compliance and give planners working long-distance a good sense of the space.
  • Offer text and email options for itemized printed receipts. Electronic receipts breaking down spend by type simplify record-keeping.
  • Make events tech-friendly. Have internet and connectors for TV and projectors. Don’t charge extra for equipment already on-site.

Graphic Packaging International:

  • Staff private events appropriately. Dedicated servers ensure everyone in attendance feels cared for.
  • Keep pitchers of water or iced tea on tables for self-service. Wait staff won’t need to interrupt as often and guests won’t wait for refills.
  • Use text or email to confirm final headcounts.

Accenture:

  • Identify guest dietary and physical accommodation needs ahead of time.
  • Ask if any attendee is celebrating something special. Recognition during events adds to a festive atmosphere and makes events even more memorable.
  • Put your best foot forward. Genuine pleasantries from wait staff go a long way to make guests feel welcomed and appreciated.

1 Source: The BTN Group/Dinova online survey of 114 corporate travel card and expense managers about meal expense policies, conducted in April, 2016.

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