Providing any kind of catering at your stand represents a logistical challenge in its own right. Even if you limit yourself to just serving coffee and soft-drinks, you’ll still need storage space, electricity, running water and cooler/freezer equipment. Keep in mind that for a stand providing catering you’ll require about thirty percent extra surface area compared to one that doesn’t provide catering. You will also need to decide upon who serves the drinks, who does the clearing away, and who keeps everything clean and tidy. When also offering something to eat, you’ll need to double the aforementioned efforts.
What you plan to offer and how you are going to go about it depends on your exhibition objectives. If hospitality is your overarching stand concept, then you can’t really go without catering. If your goal is to provide information, then you can do without catering.
We have summed up the below pointers to ensure that your stand catering will be a logistically successful operation.
Manage the numbers: How many people are you going to cater for? Will every passer-by be offered something or all those who stop by the stand? Or will you limit yourself to treating those who are invited into the stand for a more in-depth discussion?
Consider the peak times: these could be peaks in the general flow of exhibition traffic or be your own ‘happy hours’. These moments will be extra taxing on your stocks and require a boost of the preparation/serving dynamics.
Do not compromise on cooling: you want to keep your valued guests happy and healthy, and a cool drink will go a long way in getting you some appreciation. This is about more than just having a fridge in place; your snacks need to be kept refrigerated and your drinks supply needs to be kept well stocked.
Have some dietary alternatives available: if catering plays a central role in your stand’s concept then you should definitely take dietary needs/wishes into account. Non-alcoholic alternatives for a champagne toast should be available, as should vegetarian, kosher and halal snacks.
Brief the stand staff members: operational requirements in regards to the catering should be specifically addressed when briefing your team. Even if you have specific staff who are responsible for the catering aspects, you should still brief the other staff members about it (who, when, what and how).
Be exacting with your suppliers: Are you using the catering services provided by the organiser or venue, or have you contracted an external supplier/caterer? Be very clear that you expect to have everything on time at your stand. A busy exhibition hall can delay deliveries, but that should not end up being your problem.