Sponsored by Dinova.
With office party season fast approaching, companies coast to coast are making plans to celebrate. This year, corporate event planners are looking not only for great food and catering options, but for ways to make their annual events memorable for employees.
Business holiday parties represent healthy dining and catering spend. Dinova, a $5B marketplace that exclusively connects business expense account diners to quality restaurants, reports that 36% of Dinova corporations are budgeting between $50 and $75 per employee this season for corporate year-end holiday parties. Another 43% are planning to spend $25-$50 per employee. This year, however, party “extras” are becoming essential to win corporate event business.
Extras put more fun on the menu
Dinova recently surveyed its corporate members, which include more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 companies, about their holiday party planning policies, guidelines and needs. The full report summarizes the results of a 10-question survey completed by Dinova member companies. The findings show that significant numbers of respondents are interested in party services and suggests key ways restaurants can go the extra mile to provide excellent service for corporate holiday parties.
This year, Dinova companies reported strong interest in interactive and experiential events like team building activities, live music, custom decorations, and distinctive souvenirs to help ensure the corporate gathering fits with their company culture or offers a unique experience for employees. This suggests that restaurants willing to bring curated event experiences to the party could be able to win more corporate events during the lucrative corporate holiday season.
In particular, corporate respondents listed their notable favorites as DJs (50%), themed party favors (50%), photo booths (43%), photographers (43%), live music (14%) and facilities for team building (14%). Restaurants offering these types of “extras” can compete more effectively and land a larger slice of the holiday party pie.
Interest high in DIY food stations, activities and photo opps
Results from the Dinova survey reflect industry trends from recent years. Providing opportunities to engage employees breaks the ice and gets groups talking. DJs and live bands remain perennial corporate party favorites. Demand for photo-centric party activities is also strong, in large part because employees share photos of co-workers on both internal and external social media platforms. Shareable photo opportunities have become essential for documenting memorable events.
These findings confirm general trends in the industry. In the spirit of “If there’s no photo, it didn’t happen,” corporate office parties frequently feature photo-centric extras: photo booths with novelty props, party-themed backdrops and apps that superimpose images into dramatic settings, and even prom-style portraits for dressier events that include significant others. The common theme for all these options: shareable photos.
Interactive party opportunities are also very popular. Party goers appreciate DIY refreshment opportunities such as cookie-decorating and DIY cocktail stations. Crafting activities such as ornament and holiday card making and “pimp my badge” nametag stations give corporate employees a chance to mingle and break the ice as they work side by side.
Team building opportunities on the rise
Activities that encourage employees to roll up their sleeves serve as icebreakers and sometimes benefit nonprofit causes. At a party celebrating the Toms for Target holiday partnership, held at the BookBindery in Culver City, California, in November 2014, guests created handmade ornaments. Another event invited attendees to make hand-crafted holiday cards for active-duty military members. Many Dinova member organizations also expressed interest in similar team-building activities.
For restaurants, offering corporate event planners extras beyond food service could help tip the score in their favor. For instance, Sushi Samba a Dinova restaurant partner in Manhattan’s West Village, offers a Sushi and Saki 101 Class, as well as Samba dancing lessons. Dinova TriBeca restaurant partner, Distilled, offers a variety of curated event experiences, including mixology classes. In Dallas, The Standard Pour a neighborhood restaurant and bar inspired by the 1920’s nostalgia, is one of the top places for bourbon tasting in America for 4 years running. In Miami, Dinova restaurant partner Bocce offers a three-course pasta-making party that consistently gets rave reviews. In Costa Mesa, La Cuisine Culinary Arts offers a variety of hands on cooking classes.
Options abound. It will take some creativity, and the ability to listen to what a corporate event planner perceives to be their key team-building needs to get it right. But the effort will result in a truly memorable party.