Catering Trends for 2021

 In Articles, Industry Advice

After an unprecedented year, 2021 events are all about finding the right balance. Balancing technology and service, connection while maintaining safe distancing and comfort food with healthy cuisine. Balancing cost without sacrificing value.

Safety first

In 2021, the number of staff per event will likely rise, to ensure the experience is best for every guest. Safe distance rules across events mean more infrastructure in order to reduce queues and for this, there will be a need for more chefs, bartenders, service, and additional staff to help guide guests through these new processes. The guest impression and safety is always at the forefront of every event planner, but guests will expect higher levels of cleanliness and health risk assessment. Having a transparent and strong plan of communication in place will go a long way. Safety and cleaning measures should be printed and visible to the attendees.

Buffet reinvented

Transforming the self-service buffet is one of the trends for the new year. Providing a serviced buffet is one of the predictions as a short-term solution, as self-service stations usually gather a high number of guests and facilitate the spreading of viruses. These station attendants will serve plated meals, coming straight from the kitchen with gloves and masks, and will offer an additional moment of conversation and hospitality, in order to create a connection with the guests.

Serving food at your event can also be turned into a memorable experience. Get creative and elevate the experience by finding new ways to serve food. Vertical food stations or motion menus, such as conveyor belt style buffet or creative packaging are some of the trends. This will allow for a maximisation of the space, an increase in food selection, and will make the experience fun and interactive. Although the forecast is for a small setback in green practices with the return of disposable individual packaging and bottled beverages, there is space for brands and companies to develop greener alternatives and keep events on a sustainable path.

Dietary requirement trends continue

Dietary requirements have been a trend for the past years and will continue in 2021. Sustainable, clean, locally sourced, plant-based, and cannabis products saw a massive increase in 2020, becoming a lifestyle for many. When planning menus, health, and social responsibility will become a bigger priority. There will be an increase in demand for organic, vegan, vegetarian, seasonal, and foods with healthy components as a result of the pandemic.

Tech integration

Technology plays a big role in customer service and is predicted to become even more important when interacting with guests. Creating event apps allows you to communicate event details in advance with guests but also keep them engaged during the event. Details that could be included in the app to create engagement are menu options, agenda for the day, and more services included in the event. Technology can also be integrated to keep track of guests’ dietary requirements. In a situation where the food is served to a seated audience, by incorporating seat assignments, guests can communicate their dietary requirements in advance and personalised food and drinks will come to their assigned seat. This creates a better service and results in higher customer satisfaction.

Drinks can be purchased in advance or make use of a virtual token or credit as a “pay as you go” option. This avoids unnecessary queues and cash payments, improving the safety of the service.

Most importantly, maintain a safe budget. With a likely rise in staff numbers and a decrease in attendees, the goal for event planners is to address potential budget cuts and again, find the balance. Finding fewer but stronger suppliers and sourcing domestically can help reduce costs.

The industry will recover and become strong once again post-pandemic, but in the meantime, the challenge is to create an unforgettable experience with innovation and new ideas during this period.

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