Thinking outside the box is part of being a caterer, so it was not surprising at all that many of you reported alternative events as an area of growth in the 2016 ICA annual survey. These aren't your typical wedding, social, or corporate events—they're often more hands-on and innovative.
Though there are so, so many occasions that fall under this umbrella, we spoke with a few ICA caterers to learn more about the most popular events they're seeing and what makes them so unique.
Read on for alternative revenue stream event inspiration!
Wine dinners in the kitchen
Our first event idea comes from Jerin Dunham, chief operating officer and part owner of Funky's Catering in Cincinnati. He shared with us that they host five dinners a year in their kitchen, where guests can "explore new food and wine pairings."
Funky's Catering began hosting these events to "connect with guests" but learned quickly that "it gives clients an opportunity to enjoy cooking and service without having to plan an event." Dunham added that "they can be very popular and during the first quarter it gives a little boost in revenue."
Sometimes bigger is better when it comes to alternative events. Jesse Williams and Lisa Richards, sales and marketing manager and owner, respectively, of Picnic People in San Diego, advise that sometimes it can be good to "take chances." They added that "with proper planning and execution, it will pay off!"
Each year, they host the Heroes Brew Craft Beer Fest, a festival full of creative food and—as the name suggests—incredible beer. Though it involves "constant evaluation" and much planning, they said "it does show Picnic People as a creative and capable large event producer, which could potentially lead to promoters or others looking to hire or partner on other public events."
It might be best to pick a versatile format for your alternative events—an occasion that is relatively easy to host but that you can change when inspiration calls for it. Tobe Finch, director and owner of Happy Day Catering in Lewiston, ID, hosts a series of pop-up dinners based around different themes like "Valentines and a Taste of Peru."
Finch also added that these dinners provide "a great opportunity to highlight a guest chef, the work of an artist, a winery, a musician, a unique venue or dining experience." He also gave the advice that in some markets, "the concept is new," so you can't "expect that your first dinner is going to be an overnight success...they may have to grow over time."
Do you have a cool alternative revenue stream event idea? Tell us about it and come visit our booth at the upcoming Catersource Conference & Tradeshow.
To learn more about the ICA, visit http://www.internationalcaterers.org.