Very often an event to set the scene for the year to come. Always a highlight in the calendar. The annual chairman’s dinner is an event that takes months of planning for PAs. With VIPs packed in and lots of opportunity to make an impression, it’s also the one occasion of the year that can always be given an upgrade.
No matter how five star it has been in the past. Here, Liz Taylor of Manchester-based event management company the Taylor Lynn Corporation (TLC) shares her five ways to upgrade your Chairman’s Dinner to add a touch of WOW factor…
Switch Up the Venue
This is the type of event that many organisers would take an ‘if it isn’t broken then don’t try and fix it’ approach to. True, if you’ve found a venue that your chair feels confident and comfortable with, then that’s often the safest route. Yet there is a myriad of venues that could take your event from ordinary to extra-ordinary in a heartbeat. Unusual, unique, breath-taking, showstopping. If this isn’t the event to showcase a luxurious venue with a twist, then what is? An art gallery, museum or restored vintage theatre provides an added side of culture. You could include exclusive VIP tickets for a show or exhibition as a pre or post dinner ‘extra.’ A landmark with a view that money can’t buy such as The Shard. One of the UK’s most exclusive golf courses. A castle, chateau or the underbelly of the Cutty Sark. Do some digging and sell that space to the powers that be, you won’t regret taking the risk.
It is obvious that the food should be a good at a prestigious event such as this. But there is good food, and then there’s great food. Many venues don’t have the skills or the inclination to offer gourmet food en masse. That’s when you need to think outside the box and look outside the venue. A good friend of mine, Tom Kerridge, has noticed a gap in the market here, launching his own catering venture that provides restaurant quality food at scale. And there are others following suit.
Switch up the safe bet for a dining experience. Think about what you serve the food on as well as the ingredients of the dish. Gold leaf steak carved with swords at the table al a Salt Bae, the finest quality sushi served with food sculptures and dry ice for added theatre, and if it is as simple as a luxury fish and chip supper – serve in handmade boxes that are branded to the dinner with a glass of quality fizz on the side. Give them a dinner to remember.
Make it Personal
One thing discerning guests always take note of is personalisation. Attention to detail denotes luxury. Include handmade name plates that double as a gift. A personalised miniature of their favourite tipple. A hip flask engraved with their initials. Champagne, handmade chocolate bars, silk ties, cufflinks, luxury watches…we’ve personalised everything for our events, and it never fails to impress.
Celebrate the Individual
The pandemic saw the trend for grazing tables and sharing platters reversed. Now, it’s all about individuality. I just love this trend as another way to make each guest feel special. Everyone has their own miniature version of anything that’s normally shared. Miniature salt and pepper pots, water jugs, gravy dishes, artisan bread, condiments, desserts. You can even give each guest their own miniature charcuterie board. Combine both trends in one.
More than ever, entertainment is such an important part of a dinner. The size of your guest list will depend on what type you choose, but even for intimate dining there should always be live music. Some of the best musicians are those that aren’t afraid to get up close and personal with guests. Roaming singers who serenade each table. A travelling swing band that brings the party to every group. Unforgettable.
High end entertainment should always feel like the show is just for you. An extreme example? We invited Dynamo along to a Ladies Lunch at Old Trafford. He wowed the crowds with his unique take on slight of hand magic. Even if Dynamo is out of your budget, a talented magician is a great option.
If your venue allows, you could even put on a 20s style cabaret show. A Jazz duo that brings all the sounds and energy of the roaring 20s. Another trend making a huge comeback.
Liz Taylor is founder and CEO of the event planners, the Taylor Lynn Corporation, and has been at the forefront of the UK event scene for over thirty years.