How Customer Service Can Make or Break Your Catered Event

Messina's appetizers

You’ve checked everything off the list for your upcoming event:  Venue, check.  Catering menu, check. Entertainment, check.  Now the big day has come and it’s show time.  Your diligent planning and hard work are about to pay off.  But the most beautiful venue and the most delicious food can all be tarnished by poor customer service once guests arrive.  Impeccable customer service is the glue that holds everything together.  Here are some tips to make sure your event’s service matches its caliber.

Top 10 tips for providing an exceptional guest experience

1. Make sure guests don’t feel lost or ignored

It’s important that they’re greeted upon arrival and know where food and drink is, where the bathrooms are, or how to get to particular locations within an event.  Maybe the breakout sessions are happening down the hall.  Or the ceremony is in a different location within the venue than the reception.  Greeters should be numerous and enthusiastic.  Make sure greeters are placed strategically, such as in a building lobby, at the entrance to a ballroom, near the bathrooms, etc., to help guests find their way around without feeling lost.  Station greeters along any paths guests will need to take within the venue, especially where they may be apt to take a wrong turn.  Support the greeters’ efforts with ample signage in case a greeter happens to be busy with a guest and miss providing directions to another.

2. Give everyone VIP status

If there is a check-in, make sure it’s quick and painless.  If you’re event features raffles or drawings, be sure to explain the process to guests at check-in.  If there is assigned seating, be sure to direct guests to the correct place first, rather than having to ask them to move later.  Be sure to guide guests to food and drink and make them feel wanted and welcome at every touch point.

Trade show registration

3. Address your guests by name

If your attendees are wearing name badges, ask your wait staff to address attendees by name–preferably Mr. or Ms. and their last name.  Also, think in advance about connections you can help facilitate and be ready to make those introductions.

4. Make sure every guest gets a little of the host’s attention

Whether it’s a first-time meeting or a longtime friend, it’s important that all guests feel valued for giving some of their time.

5. Appreciation can’t be overdone

Make sure guests are thanked for coming, and that your service staff lets everyone know they are the first priority.  There is always time to say “please” and “thank you.”

6. Go above and beyond

Do a little something extra your guests might not be expecting.  If your event is in a historic district, considering sending them a link to download a walking tour. Tailor any extras to fit the demographics of attendees.

7. A seasoned caterer and well-trained service staff will anticipate the needs of attendees in advance and be able to make adjustments during the event

Knowing the guest count, your caterer should be able to identify possible bottlenecks based on your venue’s layout.  Therefore, they can design the food and beverage layout and format accordingly.  Do you expect an initial rush at the bar?  Perhaps a passed seasonal cocktail could help avoid lines.  Are guests mingling when they should be finding their seats?  Staff members can keep the event on schedule by providing a gentle “right this way” to guests in order to guide them to their table.

Messina's bartender

8. The best service providers don’t act like vendors, instead they act like partners

It’s in everyone’s best interests for your guests to leave your event with positive, lasting memories.  A vendor simply finishes the job and gets paid.  A partner, on the other hand, has a vested interest in your guests’ satisfaction and will strive to make sure they enjoy themselves and leave happy.

9. If something goes wrong, make it right

Events have a lot of moving parts, so inevitably something will not go to plan. There are no do overs in special events.  Game-time decisions need to be made quickly and efficiently.  Maybe a guest forgot to request something for their dietary needs.  Or maybe a place card is lost and a guest is left feeling unwelcome and without a seat.  These situations can be quickly handled and de-escalated by proving a sincere apology coupled with a swift and discrete resolution.  Staff members should be empowered to quickly address guest concerns so guests feel as though their needs are valid and addressed quickly and thoroughly.

10. Choose an experienced caterer

There is no better training than experience.  It’s hard to anticipate hurdles unless you’ve experienced them.  An experienced caterer has seen it all, and knows how to react to any situation.  This makes guests feel at ease and attended to.

Messina’s is a full-service caterer with more than 60 years of experience as a New Orleans caterer and has a reputation for providing exceptional customer service and an incredible guest experience. That’s why they are one of the preferred caterers at some of New Orleans’ most prestigious venues such as the Sazerac House, Race and Religious, the Pontchartrain Convention Center, The Sazerac House, and the New Orleans Museum of Art to name a few.  Learn more by visiting MessinasCatering.com.