An essential part of a company retreat is ensuring that everyone gets fed (happy bellies make happy people). Make sure you know what you need (and what you’re getting into) when it comes to planning the meals your upcoming corporate retreat.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Different aspects of feeding corporate retreat attendees
- Whether you want your catering done for you or want to feed the masses yourself
- What you need to consider when it comes to food
If the event is being catered
In most cases, the responsibility of actually producing the meals and snacks needed to feed your company retreat is handled by a third-party, either a venue or another caterer that you might like to bring for the event.
Firm up the initial headcount
An accurate headcount is needed to ensure you know how much food and drink is needed. It’s also wise to get details for the day of check-in. If some are arriving in the early morning and others are arriving in the evening, the caterers need to know. The numbers are essential for budgeting the cost of the retreat, being the second biggest cost influencing factor (outside of the quality of ingredients).
What’s the average cost for meals at a company retreat?
Here’s a loose average of the costs to expect when feeding attendees:
- Breakfasts average around $10 – $15 per person
- Lunches average around $14 – $20 per person
- Dinners average around $15 – $30 per person
Who is doing the catering?
If you’re expecting catering, it’s essential to clear up who’s providing it. Does the venue have in-house catering, or do you require an outside party? If you plan on using an outside caterer, you must check that the venue allows them and whether they are allowed to use venue facilities (at Cliffview Resort, we have an “Open Vendor” policy which means we allow any licensed caterer you want). It’s also worth contacting the venue to check if they have a list of approved caterers who work with them.
If it’s “In-House” catering
If the catering’s in-house (i.e. provided by the company retreat venue), you need to learn what you can about the food they provide. Do they have different menu options? Do they supply snacks and drinks? Are they willing to work to the dietary requirements of the attendants? Furthermore, before agreeing to anything, you need a cost estimate to ensure it’s all within budget and whether table settings are available, included as standard, or come at a premium.
If you need an outside source
If you plan on using a third-party caterer, then ensuring that they can work with the venue will be your top priority. Some venues may have restrictions on the types of caterers allowed. For instance, some may not allow food trucks. Getting in touch with the venue in advance is always wise, as you need to be aware of how much time is needed to approve of the caterers, as well as time to allow them to send, receive, and process the necessary forms and licenses. If you’re organizing a longer retreat, you also need to ensure they can handle a multiple day job.
If you’ll be feeding/cooking on your own
When it comes to catering for the event yourself or providing all your guests with the ability to cook for and feed themselves, you need to ensure that you have all the food and tools you need on hand. Many venues will provide basic cooking utensils (i.e. pots and pans) but it’s best to check with them first. Also, if you’re cooking for a fairly large group, be aware that the venue supplied tools may be geared more toward small groups (i.e. the pots, pans, serving tools may be smaller in size than commercial-grade tools).
How to calculate the amount of food you’ll need for a company retreat
You need to begin by breaking down the eating schedule for the retreat, and how much food everyone will need. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and treats need to be decided on, with calculations on how much food you need to buy based on how many people are planning to attend. This will be a rough estimate, as not everyone will follow the same schedule when cooking for themselves.
It can be easiest to break these calculations down by the food options you want at each meal (a professional caterer will be able to handle these calculations for you, FYI). It can be helpful to have a food group “framework” each plate will have when planning these meals. For example:
- Breakfast – 2 protein, 2 grain/cereal, 1 starch, 2 beverages
- Snack – 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, 1 sugar
- Lunch – 1 protein, 2 starch, 1 sugar, 2 beverages
- Dinner – 2 protein, 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 sugar, 3 beverages
Here’s an example menu:
- Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Homefries, Biscuit, Cereal, Milk, Coffee, Orange Juice
- Snack – Veggie Tray, Fruit Tray, Sweet Tea, Coke (Diet and Regular), Water
- Lunch – Turkey and Ham Sandwiches, Potato Chips, Pickle, Cookie, Sweet Tea, Coke (Diet and Regular), Water
- Dinner – Grilled Chicken, Grilled Fish, Roasted Potatoes, Pasta Salad, Roasted Veggies (Asparagus, Zucchini, Squash), Veggie Tray, Chocolate Cake, Sweet Tea, Coke (Diet and Regular), Coffee, Water
How will you get the food on-site?
You also need to consider how you’re going to get the food. Some venues will have nearby grocery stores, but more remote places, like Cliffview, do not have large stores nearby, with the nearest Kroger located in Stanton, KY around 30 minutes away from the venue. You also need to ensure you have sufficient storage. With both Cliffview Lakeside and Retreat having double fridges in the kitchen and a standard fridge in the theatre room, there will be plenty of space for storing food. It’s important to ask the venue about what cooking tools are available, such as whether there are grills, whether you need to bring pots and pans, and so on.
Amenities at the venue
Besides acquiring and cooking the food itself, you want to ensure a seamless dining experience, so asking about other amenities is important, too.
What does the venue supply?
Start by asking your chosen venue if they supply for dining needs. Do they offer silverware, plates, cups, and the like that you can use? Or is it going to be the responsibility of your team, the caterers, or whomever else is providing the meals?
What dining areas are provided?
Ask the venue about which dining areas are available for use and get details on them to ensure they’re a good fit. Can they seat everyone? Is there a kitchen at the location you can use? Where is the dining area, indoors or outside? What are the table and seating arrangements and are you allowed to rearrange them?
How is the trash handled?
Is all the trash produced by cooking and eating going to be handled by the venue? If not, does the venue have recommendations or rules on how you can the caterers can dispose of your waste?
Besides ensuring that you have enough to feed everyone, you also need to consider the dietary restrictions and preferences of your guests ahead of time. You also need to consider the health aspect of the food provided for conscious eaters and a more productive retreat.
Dietary restrictions and preferences
It’s important to gather the dietary restrictions and preferences of your guests ahead of deciding the menu. This includes allergies, gluten intolerances, vegetarian, and vegan meals. You should also leave room open for those who have cultural or religious reasons for not eating certain foods and look into special provisions like kosher and halal foods.
When deciding on a menu, you should also try to ensure a healthy, nutritional balance with each meal. Healthy foods are better for keeping your guests energetic, motivated, and engaged, which is likely to help the retreat succeed. Furthermore, you will want to avoid heavy breakfasts and lunches, which can lead to lethargy later in the day.
Planning your meal schedule well to ensure that your guests don’t get too hungry is important. Frustrated guests make for poor retreats. Furthermore, you should ensure you have snacks and drinks available throughout the day. This makes it easier for those with different eating habits to satisfy their cravings between meals.
Alcohol at a corporate retreat
Alcohol is optional and it might not be essential for the organization of a good retreat. However, many venues offer cocktail hours, wine with dinner, and so on. Here’s what you should consider about alcohol.
Is it allowed?
First of all, you need to know whether alcohol is allowed to be served on the property. Does the venue require an ABC certified vendor, or can you serve it yourself? You should also ask if they require an additional insurance policy and check your own liability insurance to see if it excludes any incidents and events where alcohol is provided. Of course, whether or not you serve alcohol should be something that you look into your company’s culture and policies to decide upon in the first place.
Should you set a limit?
Many companies enjoy serving alcohol to act as a social lubricant and to help guests relax and enjoy themselves in the evenings following conferences, team-building exercises, and reviews. However, you may also want to limit consumption to ensure that the team’s behavior remains appropriate and manageable. You might consider setting a limit to prevent over-serving and keep alcohol consumption under control.
Do you need transportation?
If the company retreat is not an overnight event, you must have strict rules in place about transportation. Requesting that guests leave their keys with the venue staff (if that can be arranged) and arranging transportation options like Uber and Lyft ahead of time can ensure a safe, responsible night for everyone that’s involved.
Get help arranging your retreat
At the Cliffview Resort, besides our excellent lodging, we have a number of venues that are ideal for a corporate retreat of almost any size. From team-building weekends to annual reviews of projects and progress, we believe that we have the perfect place for strategizing, staying, and mixing business with pleasure.
Hopefully, this article (part of our in-depth “How To Plan A Corporate Retreat” series) has helped ensure that there are no blind spots or gaps in your catering plan and given you a good idea of how to organize it.
Our blog goes into detail on many of the different aspects of feeding your company retreat. If you want some assistance in putting your plans into motion, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Cliffview Resort. You can call us at 888-596-0525 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have.