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Can Christmas party stress be avoided?

Can Christmas party stress be avoided?

Christmas is around the corner; it is acceptable to put decorations up and listen to The Pogues, on repeat, without (too much) judgement.

Can Christmas party stress be avoided?

This week also marks the busiest period on the restaurant and event venue calendar. With 5.7 million SMBs in the UK, event venues are increasingly offer mega party packages and shared space events. The trend has become so big now, there’s even an exhibition specifically for event agents and corporate event buyers.

In 2018, 45% of event spend was booked through venue finders and event agencies, representing an 11% increase from 2017. The number of corporate buyers intending to use free venue finding companies to help source venues on their preferred dates is expected to be up 12% over 2018.

And, in the 2018 season, companies spent a total spend of £3.6m, with the average spend per guest showing a year-on-year increase of 4%.

The companies that invest in these companies are intent on their staff enjoying their evenings, without the stress of hosting. For that to happen, they expect every element of the evening to flow smoothly, without fault. That includes their orders being known in advance and placed on their tables, in the right place, without delay and without fuss.

It’s even more complicated when you have, potentially, 10, 20, even thirty different groups sharing the space.

Say five office groups of 30 + book for the 19th December. In order to take their booking there would traditionally be a booking call, numbers would be confirmed and a deposit paid. Next menus need to be agreed, sent around the team and choices gathered. Once the menu has been emailed back, with orders plus food amendments and intolerances listed, it needs to be transcribed to a spreadsheet for the kitchen and serving team, and plotted against table placing. Then, inevitably, there will be two or three calls phoning to amend numbers or orders.

On the day, the meal and pre-ordered drinks must be served without a hitch and any extra pay (for at-venue drinks) collected from the giddy group. Finally that money needs to be matched against orders in the till.

It’s painfully clear that opportunity for error is huge. It’s like a game of Chinese whispers, but one where a bad outcome wouldn’t be considered funny.

Some venues have solved the problem by investing in digital ordering, and we would expect more to do so in 2020 as the wider industry, corporate caterers and restaurateurs, do the same. Via digital ordering, the process is made quite simple:

  • A group books its table and downloads the venue’s ordering app or accesses the venue’s online portal.
  • The app contains all of the menus and prices. In a few, quick clicks, they enter the orders themselves, making note of allergies or unique requests.
  • They are assigned a table.
  • The app facilitates payment and syncs with the venue’s EPoS to reconcile the order.
  • The order is automatically in the system and can be printed out for use.

Even better, on the night, companies can use the app to place orders for table service and pay, meaning there’s no need to queue 20-deep for a bottle of Prosecco.

This December, spare a thought for employees at event venues still relying on manual methods of order taking and management. They have a stressful few weeks ahead of them.

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