Choosing the right caterer for your event

Feb 13, 2023 / 4 min read
By: Adis Jugo, President (Technology) GmbH
Medium Choosing The Right Caterer

If you are a professional event organizer, you know that food and beverage choices can make or break an event.

Choosing the right caterer for your event is extremely important. A great provider may save a poor conference, and a poor provider can ruin it too. This leads to unhappy attendees and speakers who are looking forward to commenting negatively on social media about your inexperience.

Some event organizers, under great stress, overlook the importance of food and beverages and make ad-hoc decisions. Experienced organizers approach catering selection with great care, using the planning stage to anticipate conference needs and select appropriate suppliers.

Table of Contents

Choosing the right caterer - the planning stage

6 factors that define the right caterer 

Unique benefits of using for caterers


Choosing the right caterer - the planning stage

When you start looking for the right caterer, there should be agreement about the conference style and audience, considering the following:

  • Event size
  • Location
  • Budget
  • Venue limitations

Providing catering services for a large conference is a big responsibility. When approaching different providers, you should know the number of expected attendees, VIPs, and speakers. 

Event location determines logistics. Keep an eye on those that are close to your venue when choosing the right caterer, as it makes a significant difference if their production line is nearby. You want to avoid annoying participants in the middle of your conference by explaining that a traffic jam is delaying their food.

You should also avoid negotiating on price with the vendor before securing funds to cover the expected number of conference participants.

Each conference deals with different venue limitations (e.g., specific opening times, security policies, simultaneous parallel conferences). When negotiating terms with venue providers, remember to ask questions about these issues, as it might help you choose the right caterer for your event later.

Professional event planners will always touch base with their vendors to find out if they have preferred catering providers. As part of their contract, your venue provider may insist that you work with specific companies. Sometimes that’s a good option, but you have to ensure vendors deliver what you expect.

choosing the right caterer conference event

6 factors that define the right caterer 

There is a lot riding on when choosing the right caterer for your event. You want to avoid going over budget or receiving complaints from attendees and speakers that may jeopardize your reputation.

Once you receive quotations from catering vendors, pay close attention to the following factors:

1) Responsiveness

Focus on choosing the right caterer that can respond to any inquiry from your side as it shows general interest in winning the deal. You should cross them off your list if they do not respond within 48 hours.

2) Ability to handle specific event types

The ability to spot the distinction between different types of caterers might save you a lot of time. Some offer a more ‘boutique’ style and specialize in small, intimate events, while others are equipped to serve large, high-end corporate events.

3) Flexibility 

Every caterer has a standard type of menu to choose from. Those who can provide some level of built-in flexibility should be considered favorably to stay on your roster.

4) Familiarity with the venue

Caterers who are familiar with your venue are accustomed to preparing and serving food in the specific setting. It’s also beneficial if service providers follow set-up standards or disposal restrictions for waste food and water.

5) References

It's always good to be able to check up on the caterers you are in touch with, especially if you are new in the country or city. Ask colleagues for recommendations, as event planners like to share their knowledge.

6) Transparent cancellation policy

Make sure that the contract contains a cancellation clause. First and foremost, it’s a sign of professionalism, but it’s also good to be able to apply penalties if your caterer decides to bail out at the last minute.

choosing the right caterer conference event

Unique benefits of using for caterers

Order management can be complicated for caterers as other stakeholders use different communication channels. Organizers and service providers can bypass many problems using professional event management platforms (EMPs).

2 benefits of using for service partners

  • Centralized order management

  • A service provider marketplace with service offers, capacity and geographical territories descriptions (coming in 2023)

This is especially beneficial for a last-minute choice of caterer, as it offers a more advanced way of bringing together event organizers and service providers.

choosing the right caterer event conference


Choosing the right caterer for your conference can be stressful. By using the planning steps above and paying close attention to six defining factors, you will more than double your chances of having a streamlined catering selection process.

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