Take it from me: planning a conference is never an easy task, particularly when you consider the many details you need to cover to make it a memorable event. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that, for me, one of the most important details is what kind of F&B to serve to attendees. It's here where you can see the biggest hit and miss of the entire event. Naturally, I think that providing coffee and tea as refreshments for visitors is essential - you'll want to keep people satisfied, engaged and energised. You may not be aware of it, but the atmosphere of your event and the delegates' perception of it hinges on the tactile and tasting elements on offer.
I'm in the business of providing premium coffee service for events, so one question I often get asked is 'why should I invest in baristas for my conference when I could just provide instant coffee, or utilise the venue's batch option? Is it really worth the investment?' In truth, it's possible to bring in a quality barista to make great coffee, and elevate people's perception of your event without breaking the bank.
The positive points behind providing a barista at your event far exceed any risks of vendors or delegates not returning when you next have an event. Or worse - telling people that they weren't satisfied by your conference.
Why Premium Coffee Helps Keep Everyone Energised
No doubt one of your biggest concerns is not being able to keep momentum going at your upcoming conference or keeping attendees engaged. If it isn't - it should be. Even if you've got some internationally renowned speakers and exciting forums or breakout sessions planned, lulls during the conference can start to make attendees feel bored or tired.
During a jam-packed schedule, you want to keep them energised at every turn. Having freshly brewed coffee in-house works similarly to adding a bar at a major cocktail party.
Coffee naturally keeps people going so they don't tire out before some of your biggest moments of the conference take place. Most importantly, having an in-house barista prevents your attendees from leaving the venue!
The Importance of Keeping Everyone On-Site
When you're holding a major event, you don't want attendees leaving out of frustration because the refreshments on offer are of low quality or (in some cases) are simply non-existent. Trust me, if you don't satisfy your attendees, they're going to leave the venue to find coffee elsewhere.
They may have to travel a long distance to get anything decent, thereby missing critical parts of your conference. Vendors may get frustrated when they see giant empty spaces during the middle of your event when you promised filled space.
Providing premium coffee on-site within close range gives the impression to attendees at your event that you thought things over well and is a simple, subtle way to keep them satisfied. Perception and word-of-mouth are everything, so you have a better chance that vendors and guests return for your next conference if these are of a positive nature.
Plus, a coffee cart service allows more face time between you (and associated vendors) and attendees. Since genuine, face-to-face interactions are what conferences are all about, this time is a critical resource that you'll be missing out on by not making excellent coffee available.
So How Are Baristas More Affordable Over Other Options?
Consider that at a certain point, hiring a coffee cart - or multiple - is often cheaper than having to purchase coffee from the venue itself. Anything extra the venue has to provide for you on top of space is going to cost more in the contract. Plus, as mentioned above, you've also got to consider how people are going to percieve the event. What little, cost-effective things can you do you to improve this? Well, my answer is going to be 'a premium, professional coffee service' every time.
You might look into utilising the venue's coffee machines, but let's face it - the taste of these is inferior to cafe style coffee. A barista makes fresh, high-quality coffee for each individual, so 1) it doesn't taste like it came out of a dispenser and 2) it's exactly they way they like it.
Plus, keep in mind that baristas will take care of all the set-up/pack-down of the cart, so there's one less issue for you to worry about when running an event. They'll also be able to interact with guests, providing that social connectedness we all look for - even if just for a moment.
You Can Absorb the Cost Into Your Ticket Prices
My final point, and one that usually resonates with conference showrunners, is that hiring a coffee cart is easy to absorb into your ticket price. The price per head on a conference scale is always lower than smaller, private events. Offering cafe-quality coffee is not going to greatly affect your bottom line, particularly when running a corporate conference where many attendees aren't price sensitive.
Remember, it's most important is to hire quality baristas that serve up fantastic coffee, at great speed, with friendly service. That's exactly what myself and the team at Coffee on Cue are all about. That's why we've grown to become Melbourne's leading coffee caterer and have started catering for Sydney events too. If you're planning something, get in touch below to see how our coffee carts and baristas can accommodate any event of any size.