While we are all excited to get back to business and start creating magical events that operate safely in our new normal, things will look different, with flexibility and creativity at the forefront. Many caterers are wondering what the future holds, and the truth is, no one knows for sure. The International Caterers Association (ICA) have been speaking with industry partners to uncover how companies will be adapting during one of the most festive times of the year: the holiday season.
To help caterers prepare for this celebratory season, the ICA spoke THE DISH by International Caterers Association trend, explaining, “our focus has been on unique individual packaging that aligns with our sustainable core value. Our team is working to create menus that are individually packaged and delivered. These menus include a full meal for two, a bottle of wine, and a small holiday décor piece. We also have several clients interested in delivering individually packaged meals to their offices.” with Renee Miner, Owner of Empyrean Events and Catering, and Amy Iserman, Director of Sales for Forte Belanger, to explore how their companies are pivoting holiday catering services for the 2020 holiday season.
These are a few trends the ICA has uncovered that will dominate the 2020 holiday season.
Individual packaging & delivery services
One of the biggest trends we will see is food served up in singleserve packaging. Whether it’s an individually wrapped charcuterie board for cocktail hour or a delicious meal for two sent straight to their door, there are a lot of creative individual packaging options for in-person events or a curated experience at a distance.
Miner discussed how she and her team are implementing this new trend, explaining, “our focus has been on unique individual packaging that aligns with our sustainable core value. Our team is working to create menus that are individually packaged and delivered. These menus include a full meal for two, a bottle of wine, and a small holiday décor piece. We also have several clients interested in delivering individually packaged meals to their offices.”
Iserman noted that while we don’t know if in-person events will be in full swing, events are all about connection, and that connection can still be made from afar. Forte Belanger is crafting virtual experiences for teams that want to celebrate the season together from a distance. One option clients are loving is a holiday-themed virtual cooking class led by their chef.
Iserman explained, “we will deliver their meal kits ahead of time and livestream our chef cooking from our Innovation Center; they will be able to ask questions as they go and have a nice meal to enjoy at home. During breaks or down time, there could be live entertainment.”
While there are a lot of logistics that go into these meal delivery services, they are half the battle in the catering business, and the same principles utilized to execute a large event can be applied to this new business model.
Creative & safe event setups
One issue catering companies are navigating is how to remain diligent with ever-changing health and safety standards while also providing a positive aesthetic and event design.
Iserman stated, “we want to avoid guests touching any shared utensils or vessels without them feeling like they are surrounded by all things COVID. Having unique and beautiful displays and/or chef-attended stations that are safe and easy for the guests to access will be critical.”
As part of their holiday offering, Forte Belanger will be delivering individualized meal kits where guests can cook along with a virtual class. Photo courtesy Forte Belanger
Miner is operating similarly, stating that they’re helping clients, “reimagine their events with a broader timeline of service, allowing smaller groups of guests to flow through the venue space and adjusting service styles to reduce contact risks.” Empyrean Events and Catering has also crafted an innovative fully enclosed plexiglass performance station booth that can be customized with company branding or holiday scenes to allow for unique design and safety all in one simple solution.
Even more fl exibility
The future of our world and our industry is unpredictable right now. Catering companies will need to stay vigilant, remaining educated on new guidelines and policies as they are released so that business can be adapted accordingly.
Iserman stressed, “at Forte, we want to make sure our guests know that we are flexible. We promise to adapt as the guidelines do, many times covering the costs of any additional measures that need to be taken to ensure the safety of our guests is at the forefront of planning for each event.” This is the mindset that catering companies will need to adopt to remain successful during this uncertain time.
Get the word out now
While some companies are not sure if now is the appropriate time to be upping their sales and marketing, there really has never been a better time. People are itching to gather and celebrate again. That being said, many don’t even know where to begin with events right now, and the thought of planning a holiday event becomes a stressor. As catering companies, you’re providing a solution to this quandary, and potential clients will welcome the suggestions from experts like you.
Empyrean Events and Catering has designed a fully enclosed plexiglass performance station for events. Photo courtesy Empyrean Events and Catering
Miner emphasized, “getting ahead of your clients is vital. Do not wait for them to contact you, and do not wait for the perfect answer to all the scenarios to fall in your lap; there simply isn’t one.” She also noted that many companies don’t have extra money to spend on marketing right now but stressed not to let that get in the way. After many trials and tribulations over the past few months, she has found a perfect solution: “put your money behind a high ROI with social media ads; this is where your clients are spending time right now (and always!). Call out the obvious— things are different—and highlight the solutions you’ve created for potential clients.”
We are ready to celebrate together
We are all in this together, and our industry will come back booming. Said Miner, “you can and will come out on top if you put intention behind your solutions for the 2020 holiday season. Stand out as the leader in your market by being bold about how you can solve the client’s problems in the COVID holiday season.” As caterers, we are known for being innovative leaders that craft creative solutions for the unknowns that are inevitably thrown at us at each event. Now is the ideal time to let that skillset shine while helping people come together again to celebrate the holiday season more joyfully than ever before!