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How to host a successful business dinner

A well-established tradition in the corporate world, business dinners are often held to network, sell and discuss the finer points of potential contracts.

Taking your clients, colleagues or partners for a business dinner is a great way to talk business against a more relaxed backdrop, make a positive impression and build long-lasting relationships.

However, if you want to ensure that your business dinner is a success, effective planning is key.

Hosting a business dinner

When you’re planning a business dinner, it’s vital that you pay close attention to detail and ensure you’ve considered all potential challenges and issues. After all, as the host, it is your responsibility to ensure that the dinner runs smoothly, from start to finish.

Here are our key tips for hosting a business dinner:

  • Choose an appropriate time – A corporate meal usually lasts two to three hours. Make sure you accommodate this in your schedule so that guests don’t feel rushed and can make the most out of the event.
  • Arrive first – When the day of the dinner arrives, it’s important that you arrive first. This will not only give you the opportunity to ensure that everything is ok with your table before your guests arrive, it also means you can greet your guests and show them to their seats.
  • Keep pace with your guests – You want your guests to feel as comfortable as possible. So, when it comes to ordering, let them take the lead. If they order a starter or a dessert, order one too so they aren’t eating alone!

Dinner dress code

Whether you’re planning a business dinner or attending one, it’s important that you dress appropriately for the occasion.

Unless you’ve been instructed otherwise, business casual is typically the most appropriate dress code for a business meal. Business casual for men typically consists of khakis or dress trousers, a shirt with a colour, an informal jacket and tie, and relatively smart shoes. For women, think smart trousers or skirts, sweaters, smart tops and an informal jacket.

If your event is slightly more formal, smart casual business attire is the next step up towards traditional business dress. This usually consists of a jacket or smart jumper, with dress trousers or a skirt, a shirt or smart top and dress shoes for women, and a sports jacket with tie, dress pants, a button-down shirt and dress shoes for men.

If in doubt, it’s always better to dress up rather than down.

Business dinner etiquette – who pays?

If you’ve organised the business dinner, etiquette dictates that you take care of the bill.

Despite this, there’s always potential for things to get a bit awkward when it’s time to pay the bill.

To make things a little less awkward for your guests, you might consider discreetly stepping away from the table towards the end of the dinner so you can pay before the bill even reaches the table.

Restaurants for business dinners

Location is key factor in the success of any business dinner. This is your chance to impress!

Key things to consider when choosing a restaurant for a business dinner include:

  • Accessibility – Although people are usually happy to travel for a business dinner or meeting, make it as easy as possible for your guests to reach your dinner venue. Make it central and convenient.
  • Atmosphere – Choose a restaurant that has a nice, relaxed atmosphere but is appropriate for a business dinner. For example, it should be quiet enough that you and your guests will be able to hear each other across the table.
  • Budget – As the host, you will be expected to foot the bill for the dinner, so keep your budget in mind when choosing the venue, and assume that guests will have a starter, a main and drinks.
  • Dietary requirements – When planning your business dinner, find out whether any of your guests have any dietary restrictions or requirements and ensure you find a venue that can accommodate them. Discovering there’s nothing on the menu that one of your guests can eat, won’t get the dinner off to a great start.

And, once you’ve chosen your restaurant, be sure to make a reservation – arriving to find there are no tables available doesn’t make a good first impression.

At The Grubstreet Author, we have a variety of spaces for business dinners in London. We provide on-site support and our in-house team will ensure you have everything you and your guests need to make your dinner a success.

Get in touch to find out more about hosting your business dinner and The Grubstreet Author.