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What is a Dine-Around and How to Plan One

Have you ever felt a little deflated as you mark your dinner choices for a formal event? There is something about hotel ballroom catered dinners that is preemptively disappointing. And it sets a negative tone for the whole event. It is time to shake things up with a new approach. Food is still an important part of any event, but it doesn’t have to be served out of a banquet warmer.

What is a Dine-Around Plan?

A dine-around plan is a flexible dining arrangement where a variety of restaurants serve dinner to event attendees instead of utilizing a traditional catered meal in the banquet hall. The concept is a lot like a meal plan with an all-inclusive meal plan. If you have ever booked one of these, you know that you are typically given credits and a list of restaurants with the freedom to dine as you please.

The same principles apply to corporate events using the dine-around model. Whether you are booking corporate travel or a local event and subbing the catering staff for a selection of local restaurants, the flexibility is an attractive selling point. Guests can choose their meals from a wider selection of menu options and have more confidence in the quality of the meals prepared by well-trained restaurant chefs.

Related: Why You Need Event Support

How Dine-Around Plans Work

Dine-around plans are formal arrangements between local food establishments and an event planner to feed the attendees of an event for a set price. It is a mutually beneficial partnership that helps the event planner pull off a one-of-a-kind event while funneling business to local restaraunts.

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How to Plan a Dine-Around

Planning a dine-around is a great way to add value to your existing eventl services. Plus, it can give your agency a competitive advantage by varying your product offerings from the competition. The key is in planning the details for a successful dine-around.

Considerations When Choosing Restaurants

The difference between creating chaos and pulling off a successful dine-around event is largely dependent on the level of planning involved. Here are a few things to consider when choosing which restaurants to include in the dine-around.

Demographics of the Guest List

Start by considering who will be attending the event and what their cuisine preferences might include. Simple differences in age, gender, and economic background heavily influence personal preferences. For example, an affluent group of high earners will expect a sampling of fine dining options like lobster tarts and rich chocolate desserts. And while blue-collar workers like lobster and chocolate as much as the next person, they might feel a bit more comfortable eating their lobster on a pizza.

Choose Restaurants with Group Dining Experience

There is something to be said about the steadfast reliability of a seasoned banquet crew. And while restaurants are well-staffed with good servers, there is a bit of a difference between serving a table of four and an event of 200.

Food Quality and Reputation

Don’t take their word for it. In the planning stages, make sure to sample food suggestions from all perspective restaurants so that you can get a taste of what the guests will be served. Now is also a good time to survey attendees and find out about dietary restrictions or food preferences.

DUNAJ Agency is a client-focused, innovative event planning solution here to make your next corporate event successful. We take care of every detail to create a high-impact, cohesive event experience. Learn more today.

Tips for Planning a Dine-Around

It is easy to get distracted, but the food isn’t the focal point of the event. Don’t overlook all of the important components in pursuit of a unique dining experience.


Orchestrate Social Opportunities

Ask the attendees for food preselections and use this information to organize groups that will go to the same restaurant and participate in other activities together. Include a cocktail hour at the hotel before all of the groups depart for their restaurant selections. This is a good opportunity to have servers provide a steady flow of cocktails and hors oeuvres.

Settle Budget and Outline Needs Before Contacting Vendors

Planning a successful dine-around starts with hammering out the ‘big picture’ details like the event budget and space needs. You will want to have all of this information organized before contacting potential dining vendors, that way; you can weed out those who can’t meet your needs.

Related: Event Budgeting Tips for 2021

Some questions to consider might include:

  • Will beverages be served as a cash bar or an open tab?
  • Do you need to book the entire restaurant, a private dining room, or several tables in the common dining space?
  • Will dinner include dessert, or will there be a separate offering at another location?
  • How long will the dinner service take?
  • How many guests need to be served?
  • How will dietary restrictions or preferences be handled?
  • Will guests be served a predetermined menu or allowed to order a la carte?

Benefits of Dine-Arounds

Corporate meetings and events can easily fall into a cookie-cutter pattern that lacks enthusiasm all the way around. It is often the same formula of hotel banquet centers and catered dinners with a choice of chicken, beef, or vegetarian. Sometimes there are drink tickets, and sometimes you have to bring your wallet. There is usually some form of presentation, some cheesy decor, and kitschy after-dinner mints printed with the event’s theme.

One thing is for sure; a dine-around event will not have that particular look and feel. The primary benefit of incorporating a new style to your event is breaking the mold and getting away from the tired formula of stuffy corporate events.

Key benefits of dine-arounds include:

  • Fresh and fun alternative style.
  • Wider selection of food choices.
  • More flexibility to meet varied dietary needs.
  • Breaks up the activities, so attendees are focused on the right activity at the right time.

Related: Sales Meeting Ideas to Energize Your Team

Dine-Arounds in a Nutshell

A new take on dining options for corporate events is blending the flexibility of all-inclusive travel meal plans with intriguing dinner options for event guests. With this option, guests aren’t pigeonholed into choosing from three lackluster meal options. And, it breaks the dinner party up from a few hundred to a few dozen at each service point. This trend is a fun new twist that offers flexibility and efficiency.
DUNAJ Agency is your full-service corporate event planning partner. We have fresh ideas and a long history of success in facilitating memorable events. Book a consultation to learn more today.

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