Mid-March, winners of the ACE awards took the stage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. To enter, each contender was asked to identify the two events the company completed that it felt best represented the company, as well as challenges and favorite aspects.
Note: Friday, November 3 is the last day to enter! Click on the link at the end of this article to enter!
Client Appreciation Event
Individual pecan pies. All photos courtesy of the caterer
Every quarter, C2 Catering holds a Client Appreciation Event at its exclusive venue—Coles Garden Wedding and Events Center—so that future brides, grooms, and their families, as well as other prospective customers (corporate and social), can sample and experience food, bar, presentation, décor, and service. C2 also collaborates with other vendors to put on a full reception production showing examples of everything from flower arrangement and place setting inspiration to wedding cakes, possible seating arrangements, and entertainment (DJ, photo booths). This event is free of charge to all attendees and is meant to draw more business, enable account executives to close sales (as well as upsell), and provide clients with answers to questions, recommendations for upcoming celebrations, and of course, individual and collective tasting opportunities.
“This event is very representative of who we are as a company inasmuch as it gives us the opportunity to show our talent in many ways and cooperate with other event professionals acting therefore as a good network of referrals,” said Younes Rebbaj, director of operations. “In fact, it is this collaboration with florists, venue organizers, event planners, and a variety of other services that shows what it takes to pull off a successful event.”
These events are budgeted as event marketing, encompassing a third of the overall marketing budget. “Our continuous challenge is to come up with ways to save money (food cost, labor cost) and shoot for a good ROI,” Rebbaj said. For this event, “We invested $10K in a return for a $100K as we booked three upscale events.”
The Client Appreciation Event comes with a variety of challenges, Rebbaj noted. For one, “Getting innovative with food versus offering Oklahoma-style food that Oklahomans grew up eating (such as BBQ pork, sausage and gravy, mashed potatoes, chicken-fried steak, cornbread, fried okra, fried onion burgers).” Plus, “our seasonal approach can be hard to showcase,” explains Rebbaj. “Our menus evolve with the seasons, and showcasing a fall menu might be irrelevant or might not attract spring or summer couples/clients.”
Another challenge for the team at C2: “Using our best catering equipment and human resources without compromising the quality of other operations.”
“Our favorite aspect of catering is fitting the design and placement of food stations to the event objective,” noted Rebbaj. “The ideal setup will dictate how quickly people move through the lines and make spaces for networking and small-group interaction.”
Other favorites for this event included:
Food/service diversification: After checking in, guests walk directly into a tasting area that featured action stations.
Taco bar with mango margaritas
• First, a taco bar where guests build their own with different combinations of meats, condiments, sauces, and spreads. For refreshment, fancy bottles of the company’s special “Mango Margarita” were incorporated.
• Displayed in the center of the ballroom was an elegant martini bar. There, attendees were able to taste traditional cheddar creamy mac & cheese, rich creamy garlic mashed potatoes, and the company’s cubed smoked brisket along with a variety of condiments presented in martini glasses.
• From there, guests could enjoy the huge paella pan filled with classic smoked brisket, bacon wrapped chicken, and coconut confetti rice.
Shrimp cocktails, crudite shooters
• Venturing inside the ballroom, attendees encountered a large ice station hosting vegetable crudité martinis and jumbo shrimp cocktail shooters.
• The finishing touch was a full mimosa bar. This interactive experience was a guest favorite as each person was able to grab a glass, add a selection of fruit and herbs, and then muddle their own mixture. After that, the bartender took over and added select tequila and other special mixes to complete the concoctions.
Enter your best catering and events into the ACE awards by Friday, November 3! Click here for more details.