In the corporate world, meetings are the lifeblood of collaboration, innovation, and decision-making. Whether it’s a brainstorming session, a crucial client presentation, or a routine team check-in, the environment you create can significantly impact the outcome.

One often overlooked yet vital component of this environment is catering. The right catering can transform a mundane meeting into a memorable experience, fostering engagement and boosting morale.

However, planning, organizing, and ordering the perfect meeting room catering is no small feat. Corporate managers, business executives, and facility managers face a myriad of challenges in this endeavor.

The logistics can be daunting, from accommodating diverse dietary preferences and ensuring timely delivery to maintaining budget constraints and aligning with the company’s sustainability goals.

Moreover, in today’s hybrid work environment, where teams are often split between in-office and remote locations, the complexity of coordinating catering services increases manifold.

Understanding these challenges and navigating them effectively is crucial for delivering an exceptional meeting experience that leaves a lasting impression. In this blog post, we will delve into the essentials of planning, organizing, and ordering the perfect meeting room catering, providing you with practical tips and insights to elevate your next corporate gathering.


Quick Summary

  • Planning weeks in advance is crucial for organizing meeting room catering
  • Using the right technology to book the meeting space and the catering will save you time and effort
  • Understanding the food preferences of meeting attendees is paramount to avoid cringe-worthy moments
  • Some original catering ideas include build-your-own salad bar, healthy snack stations, and gourmet coffee and tea bar

Understanding Your Audience

In the bustling realm of office dynamics, the importance of understanding your audience cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to catering. It’s not only a question of “who will be attending your gathering”, but also “what are their expectations?”

presenter in a meeting room

The first step in planning a meeting with catering is understanding your audience’s culinary preferences.

Are they health-conscious individuals who prefer light and nutritious options? Are they adventurous foodies who enjoy bold flavors and exotic cuisines? Do they have allergies or dietary restrictions?

Will they feel comfortable eating specific foods in front of other attendees? Gathering insights into your audience’s tastes and preferences is a must and doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.

Gathering Insights

FARE, also known as Food Allergy Research & Education, have found that 1 in 10 adult Americans have food-related allergies and more than 170 different foods have been known to cause allergic reactions.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I can even name 170 different foods – how do we know what people can and cannot have? This is why collecting information from your attendees prior to your meeting is crucial.

Aside from allergies, organizations today are putting more of a focus on diversity and inclusion and dietary preferences are top of mind when it comes to meeting room catering. From vegan, keto, and gluten-free to Halal and Kosher, understanding your audience means anticipating and accommodating these dietary needs.

We’ve found the following methods to be the most helpful when collecting dietary data for meetings and events:

  1. Pre-Event Surveys – Send out a comprehensive survey to attendees well in advance of the event. Include questions about dietary preferences, allergies, intolerances, and any specific requirements they may have.
  2. Event Registration Forms – For larger events, incorporating dietary preference questions into the event registration process can be helpful. When attendees sign up for the event, the registration form will prompt them to provide information about their dietary restrictions and preferences.
  3. Direct Communication – When sending a calendar invite for an in-person meeting, encourage attendees to reach out directly if they have specific dietary restrictions or requirements. Provide contact information for attendees to contact event organizers or catering staff to discuss their needs confidentially.

Planning the Perfect Menu

Planning the perfect menu is an art form that requires careful consideration of your audience’s preferences, dietary restrictions, and the overall tone of the event. Crafting an exceptional culinary experience goes beyond simply serving food; it involves curating a menu that delights the senses and enhances the meeting room atmosphere.

food catering

Let’s dive into how to plan the perfect menu.

Diversifying Menu Options to Satisfy Dietary Needs

Diversity in menu options is key to accommodating the varied tastes and dietary needs of meeting attendees.

Offering a wide range of menu choices, including vegetarian or vegan, gluten-free, and so many others, ensures that all attendees can enjoy delicious and satisfying meals that align with their individual preferences and restrictions.

Nutritional Food vs. Comfort Food: Finding the Right Balance

Finding the perfect balance between healthy options and comfort foods is essential for catering to the diverse preferences of meeting attendees.

You’ll want to consider a thoughtful selection of nutritious offerings such as fresh salads, grilled vegetables, lean protein, and fresh fruit, alongside comforting classics like sandwiches, pasta salads, and artisanal pizzas.

By striking this balance, we ensure that attendees can indulge in satisfying meals while also making healthy choices that support their well-being.

The Art of Timing and Presenting Meals During Meetings

The presentation and timing of meal services play a crucial role in enhancing the overall meeting experience.

It is important to pay close attention to every detail, from the visual appeal of the dishes to the timing of the meal service, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable dining experience for all attendees.

Whether it’s a plated meal service for more formal meetings or a buffet-style spread for casual gatherings, it is also important to time the service correctly so that it does not interfere with the meeting at hand.

Meeting Room Catering Ideas

If you’re looking for some inspiration to elevate your meeting room catering, here are some creative ideas to consider:

  • Build-Your-Own Salad Bar: Set up a DIY salad bar with an array of fresh greens, colorful vegetables, protein options, and flavorful dressings, allowing attendees to customize their salads to their liking. You can also take this one step further and have a different themed DIY Bar, a Taco Bar or a Mac and Cheese bar, for example. All you need to do is supply the base, or the main ingredients, and include toppings, sauces, dressings, etc. for each attendee to make their meal their own way..
  • Healthy Snack Stations: Keep attendees energized and focused with a selection of nutritious snacks such as fresh fruit skewers, yogurt parfaits, granola bars, and vegetable platters. These items are great to keep on a side table or in the back of the room for attendees to grab when they need to stand and stretch their legs after a long day of meetings.
  • Gourmet Coffee and Tea Bar: Elevate coffee breaks with a gourmet coffee and tea bar featuring specialty coffee blends, artisanal teas, and decadent accompaniments such as gourmet pastries, cookies, and chocolate truffles.

By incorporating some of these ideas into your meeting room gatherings, you can delight attendees with memorable culinary experiences that have a lasting impression.

In addition check out the video below for some more ideas:

Organizing Meeting Logistics

Organizing a meeting involves meticulous planning, especially when catering is involved. From estimating quantities to optimizing the meeting room setup for efficient food service, every detail contributes to a smooth and successful event.

Estimating Food Quantities with Accuracy

Accurately estimating quantities is essential to ensure that attendees are well-fed without excessive waste. Consider the following factors when estimating how much food to order for your next work meeting:

  1. Number of Attendees: Start by determining the number of attendees expected at the meeting. Take RSVPs into account, but also factor in potential last-minute additions or cancellations.
  2. Meeting Duration: Consider the duration of the meeting when planning catering. Longer meetings may require additional refreshments or meal/snack breaks to keep attendees energized and focused.
  3. Menu Selection: Choose menu items that are appropriate for the meeting duration and time of day. For shorter meetings, light snacks and beverages may suffice, while longer meetings may necessitate more substantial meal options. Additionally, you can often get away with a smaller selection with breakfast and lunch services, whereas meetings that go until or through dinner time often require more of a standard meal.
  4. Dietary Preferences: Take into account any dietary preferences or restrictions indicated by attendees when estimating quantities. Ensure that there are sufficient options available for all meeting participants.

Setting Up the Meeting Room for Efficient Food Service

Efficient food service relies on thoughtful planning and consideration of the meeting room layout. Factors like where the food is located, the flow of the room and accessibility, and even signage, play pivotal roles in the fluidity of your event.

brainstorming on a whiteboard

When designing the layout of the meeting room space, designate a specific area of the meeting room for food and beverage service. After hours of sitting through presentations or brainstorming new ideas, all your attendees will be thinking, “what is the fastest route to the food table?”

With a specific area for the food to be set up, you’ll alleviate any congestion as folks start moving about and getting their food. Buffet tables or stations in a centralized location are the best for quick and easy access. Keep in mind the layout of the room and try not to align your food stations with obstacles or barriers that may impede the flow of traffic or create bottlenecks.

When planning your meeting space, you should also ensure that food and beverage stations are easily accessible to all attendees, including those with mobility challenges or disabilities.

Consider the placement of tables, chairs, and serving counters and determine the best way to accommodate everyone comfortably.

Signage, though depending on the style can sometimes feel a bit tacky, can often be extremely helpful. Clear signage that guides attendees to food and beverage stations and indicates menu options, dietary information, and allergen warnings can help reduce confusion during meal service.

You can also include signage for dirty dishes or trash and recycling to ensure guests know where to put their empty plates once they’ve finished.

Here’s a complete guide on preparing a room for success.

Booking the Meeting Space in Advance and Ordering the Catering

To save time and hassle, it’s best to book your meeting space in advance. Needless to say, you need to book the catering in advance too.

Right. Easier said than done. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could do that in just a few clicks, from the same platform?

Meeting Services for hybrid workplaces

Guess what? That’s possible. With a hybrid work solution such as OfficeRnD Hybrid, you can book meeting rooms on an interactive floor plan. Not only that, but you can request meeting services for each meeting.

That could be:

  • Meeting room catering
  • Custom equipment setup
  • Room layout reorganization to tailor the meeting to a specific occasion
  • And more

This allows you to have a highly customized meeting that fits all preferences. The best part is that it is extremely intuitive and you don’t have to jiggle between different software. Read more about it here and watch an explainer video.

Sustainable Catering Options

In the modern era, sustainability has become a pressing concern across all areas of business operations, and that doesn’t leave out meetings and events.

As businesses strive to reduce their environmental footprint, the catering industry has responded by offering eco-friendly options that prioritize sustainability without compromising the overall catering experience.

The Importance of Making Eco-Friendly Catering Choices

The food industry is a significant contributor to environmental degradation, with issues such as food waste, carbon emissions, and plastic pollution posing serious threats to the environment.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over one-third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten. Their research has shown that food waste is the “single most common material landfilled and incinerated in the U.S.”

How To Choose Sustainable Catering Options

  1. Source Locally and Seasonally: Choose catering providers that prioritize locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Locally sourced foods require less transportation, reducing carbon emissions, and supporting local farms and producers. Seasonal ingredients are fresher, tastier, and more environmentally friendly than their out-of-season counterparts.
  2. Opt for Plant-Based Options: Plant-based foods have a lower environmental footprint compared to animal products and can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water, usage, and land degradation associated with animal agriculture.
  3. Reduce Single-Use Plastics: Choose catering providers that offer alternatives to single-use plastics such as compostable or reusable servingware, utensils, and packaging. Avoid individually packaged items and opt for bulk servings to minimize packaging waste.
  4. Minimize Food Waste: Work with catering providers to minimize food waste by accurately estimating the number of attendees and portion sizes. Consider donating surplus food to local charities or food banks rather than throwing it away. Encourage attendees to take leftovers home or provide composting bins for food scraps.
  5. Offer Water Stations: Instead of serving bottled water, provide water stations with reusable glassware or compostable cups. Encourage attendees to bring their reusable water bottles to refill throughout the event as well.
  6. Do you Research: Are you familiar with local establishments that provide sustainable catering options? Is there a local cafe where you can purchase soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as fresh juices in glass jars? Maybe there is a business nearby that provides compostable packaging as well as servingware. Making informed decisions and using these options whenever possible is key to staying on track.

Out-of-the-Box Catering: Interactive Food Experiences

Let’s face it, engaging attendees and fostering connections are essential for a successful meeting. But who wants to sit through hours of boardroom conversations with no immediate payoff?

office catering

One innovative way to enhance the meeting experience is through interactive food stations. These culinary experiences not only satisfy appetites but also provide opportunities for networking, team building, and creative collaboration.

Here are just a few ideas to potentially try out at your next in-person meeting:

  • Sushi Rolling Station: Set up a sushi rolling station where attendees can learn to roll their own sushi rolls under the guidance of a sushi chef. Provide a variety of sushi-grade fish, vegetables, rice, and seaweed sheets, along with condiments like soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
  • DIY Pizza Making: If your office has a stove in the kitchen/breakroom area, this next one will be a major hit! Transform your meeting room into a pizzeria with a DIY pizza-making station. Provide pre-made dough, a variety of sauces, cheeses, and toppings allowing attendees to customize their pizzas. You could also have everyone bring one topping to share to initiate conversation and collaboration.
  • Cooking Demonstrations: Host a cooking demonstration led by a professional chef who will showcase culinary techniques and recipes. You can choose from themes like healthy cooking, international cuisine, or seasonal specialties. The chef will most likely bring a tabletop griddle of sorts and attendees can observe the cooking process, ask questions, and sample the finished products.
  • Artisanal Ice Cream Sundae Bar: Indulge attendees’ sweet cravings with an artisanal dessert bar. Offer bases like brownies, cookies, donuts, or bananas for attendees to use as their base, and provide a variety of premium ice cream flavors. Make sure you don’t forget the toppings and sauces or have the attendees volunteer to bring in their favorites. Imagine a nice brownie sundae topped with fresh fruit, nuts, candies, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and a cherry at the end of a long day of meetings. MMMMM!

Organize Your Meeting Room Catering with OfficeRnD Hybrid

It’s important to note that using the right technology to guide you through the process of planning and organizing the perfect meeting room catering is paramount.

At OfficeRnD Hybrid, we deeply understand that need as we’ve identified it when talking with our clients.

That’s why we created Meeting Room Services – the latest addition to our already popular meeting room booking system.

With OfficeRnD Hybrid, you can not only easily book meeting rooms, but you can also add additional services such as catering, technical room setup, layout arrangements, and more.

The result is a highly customized meeting that’s fun, collaborative, and productive.

We invite you to learn how OfficeRnD Hybrid can elevate your meeting experience by clicking here to start for free or booking a live demo with one of our workplace experts.

FAQ

What is Included in a Meeting Room?

A meeting room typically includes essential furniture like a conference table and comfortable seating. It is equipped with technology such as a projector or large screen for presentations, video conferencing systems, and reliable Wi-Fi. Additionally, many meeting rooms offer whiteboards or flip charts for brainstorming, as well as access to teleconferencing facilities to accommodate remote participants. These features are designed to support effective communication and collaboration during meetings.

What is a Banquet-style Meeting Room?

A banquet-style meeting room is arranged with round tables, each typically seating about 8-10 people, facilitating face-to-face interaction among attendees. This layout is popular for more social or gala events, workshops, and group discussions where meal service is involved. It promotes an intimate atmosphere that encourages conversations and networking, making it ideal for award ceremonies, weddings, or corporate dinners.

How to Prepare a Meeting Room?

To prepare a meeting room effectively, start by ensuring the space is clean and the seating arrangement meets the meeting’s requirements. Set up any necessary technology, such as projectors, video conferencing systems, and sound equipment, and test them to confirm they work properly. Provide materials like pens, notepads, and water, and check that the Wi-Fi is reliable. Lastly, adjust the room temperature for comfort and minimize potential distractions to create a conducive meeting environment.

Miro Miroslavov
CEO and Co-founder of OfficeRnD
Miro Miroslavov is a software engineer turned into a tech entrepreneur. In 2015 he co-founded OfficeRnD - a leading flex space and hybrid work management platform. As a CEO at OfficeRnD, he grew the company from inception to a leading software vendor that serves thousands of customers worldwide. He is a big fan of flexible working and is on a mission to "Making Flexible Working the Way of Working".