How to Host a Successful Corporate Dinner

    Is your business celebrating a milestone? Do you want to give employees a chance to socialize with their families at a holiday event? No matter the reason, a corporate dinner is the perfect way to show your company’s best side. It can also serve as a way to reward your teams for their loyalty and enthusiasm. 

    If you’ve gotten the impression that these events need to be dull, stuffy, or more business than fun, consider these tips for keeping the evening fresh and the memories positive. They work for both first-time dinner planners and those who have been hosting events for decades. These ideas can save you the headache — and cost — of tackling the details for these often complex social occasions. 

    Make the event attractive to everyone
    Since corporate dinners are largely optional, there’s a risk that your best and brightest may not attend. In addition to being mindful with your menu planning (and offering food choices for all cultures and diets), communicate guidelines for attendees so that they don’t feel caught off-guard. 

    If it’s a formal event, know that many employees may not feel at ease, so work to make your dinner the right balance between comfortable and classy. If family members are welcome, reflect this decision in your planning. Give plenty of room for younger guests to move about, and don’t plan for the evening to go on for too long.

    Venue pick: If a ballroom-type feel with nearly 6,000 square feet of space is what you’re after, nothing quite compares to the possibilities inside the Coronado Ballroom banquet hall in St. Louis, Missouri. Built in celebration of Charles Lindbergh’s return, this historic locale has the perfect combination of art-deco nostalgia and high-tech updates. Plus, it easily seats up to 400. 

    Reconsider Swag
    While it’s a nice gesture to send everyone home with a tangible token of your appreciation, trinkets can become trash-can filler if not chosen carefully. Avoid mass-produced plastic junk or items you typically see handed out at trade shows. You want your employees to feel special and valued. Any gift to them should be a unique perk of being part of the team — something no one else but your workers can obtain. 

    Instead of another item to clutter up a desk or shelf, look into experience gifts, such as a gift card for dinner or an announcement for a future, company-wide day off. Your gift doesn’t have to cost a significant amount, but it should show that you value them as a whole person, with lives and interests outside of the company. Attendees should be able to associate the gift with your corporate dinner for years to come.

    Venue pick: For an intimate dinner high above the NYC skyline, consider The Sanctuary Hotel's Haven Rooftop & Tender Restaurant. This exclusive rooftop destination truly is a getaway from it all. Reward your employees with the upscale steak and sushi menu from the downstairs restaurant in an atmosphere that’s a genuine retreat from the office environment. 

    Remember the Mission
    Turn the night into a chance for your employees to unwind and connect, while avoiding using your dinner as a chance to go on and on about what the company has accomplished. Limit speakers to one or two, keep slideshow presentations to a minimum (or not at all) and keep the focus on the people who made the moment possible: your teams. 

    You may choose to give a brief thank-you address to those in attendance, honor a few award winners, and then turn the mic back over to your entertainment. Music, magic, or comedy all earn high marks. Work with your event space to see what talent has worked at their venue successfully before. They can frequently give feedback as to who will be easy to work with and use the space to their advantage.

    Venue pick: If a laid-back neighborhood get-together is more your speed, consider the welcoming vibe of the Four Corners Brewing event space in Dallas, Texas. This brewery has all the warmth of brick walls and BBQ. It’s the perfect venue for your all-company retreat, with or without family members. 

    Don’t Overlook Venue Opportunities
    When searching for a location, don’t settle for just those places that specialize in corporate events. Locations that market themselves as wedding locales can be the perfect place to host your dinner since they are accustomed to the ins and outs of menus and seating for a large crowd. 

    Use location photos to get a feel for the space, and keep in mind that few custom details can make that breathtaking wedding venue a more cozy locale for dinner and conversation. Ask the event rep about past corporate dinner events and what they would do for you. 

    Venue pick: Whether you’re looking to seat a small startup with tables for 80 or you need to bring together your nationwide workforce for a massive event for 500, Lakeview Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts is ready for you. Exquisite dining and décor are the trademarks of this location, with outside seating and lounge areas at a price you’ll find more than competitive. 

    Solicit Feedback
    When the event is over, the hard work for the planner or coordinator begins. It’s time to ask your guests what they loved, and weren’t so fond of, regarding your event. Feel free to gloss over those nit-picky details that don’t affect the overall success of an event — you truly can’t please everyone.

    To get an idea of what your attendees value, however, it helps to identify their favorite parts of the evening. Was it the food? The size of the space? The view? Whatever your employees adored most about the dinner, use this as a tool in next year’s planning. The first year is always the most challenging, but — when done well — it can also set the stage for decades of memorable employee and client events. 

    Venue pick: If you need seating for up to 400, consider Events at 94 HUNDRED SHEA, a popular North Scottsdale, Arizona event destination. They feature breath-taking hardwood floors, a custom u-shaped bar, and a variety of seating options for a more intimate dining and conversation experience. 

    The perfect business dinner is a combination of the right atmosphere, an eager crowd, and those personal touches that your teams will remember. Embrace the opportunity to get your attendees buzzing about the future of your company with a dining event you can be proud to host.