Today our Murder Mystery team is heading for a Kosher Israeli Cuisine restaurant in Edgware. It's not a location that many would associate with a corporate event but there is increasingly a trend for teams that know each other well to choose venues like this. We're flexible, it doesn't have to be a four star hotel, but actually it makes a lot of sense to be creative with your venue.
First of all it's going to be a lot cheaper than going to a hotel. The price per head will be lower and you won't need to pay a room hire charge. Drinks will also be significantly cheaper; the average mark up for a house wine is over 500%.
Next is the menu. The menu for this restaurant looks delicious and it's full of variety. Many hotels have worked out that limited menus are not good for business. However, there are still those offering the typical goat's cheese and sun dried tomato starter and predictable chicken main course. By the way, you can choose from two, maybe three of these predictable menus and you need to choose seven days before the event. Now, how else the joy can be sucked out of the menu experience?
The goat's cheese dish in the picture looks good, and chicken is fine, but it's predictable and designed to be easy for the hotel rather than tantalising for the guests. As an everyday dish, okay, but we're talking about catering for an occasion.
The problem with the restaurant option is expectations. Sometimes people expect a hotel and would be surprised to be invited to a smaller restaurant. That's understandable, image and the feel of a place is important. That's why it's usually teams who know each other well who choose the restaurant over the hotel. Image is less important than the meal itself.
There are some excellent hotels who understand this and have moved away from the predictable catering menu style. Some try, this year sun dried tomatos have been replaced on many menus with beetroot. Well, at least those venues are trying but it's not exactly a big effort.
For those venus that do still have predictable menus, and probably an artificial tree, it's not really good enough. Christmas can be a showcase. If people are impressed then they will come back. If you're running a venue that's busy at Christmas (most are) but not so much so for the rest of the year this could be the problem. No-one will come back for your goat's cheese.