For decades, it’s been reported that American workers participate in 11 million meetings per day. If that figure is still accurate today, it means workers in the United States are attending no more and no fewer meetings than they were when that statistic was first reported way back in 1976.
While the number of meetings that are held in the United States may not be exact, the fact remains that meetings are a daily occurrence for many workers throughout the country. Employees attend dozens of meetings every month.
Sadly, estimates suggest that as much as half the time that employees spend in business meetings is wasted. Daydreaming, snoozing, doing unrelated work, and complaining are all common things that make meetings less productive than they should be. The time wasted in business meetings held in the U.S. costs employers billions each year.
Although the figures above may make you wonder why you’d ever plan another business meeting, they should actually inspire you instead. Just because a lot of other meetings are wasteful doesn’t mean the ones you plan have to be the same. Rather than having to worry about people thinking about or working on other things during a meeting, you can plan a business meeting that will capture – and retain – the attention and interest of all your attendees.
While creating a great, relevant agenda is one thing you can do to put together a worthwhile meeting, there’s another thing you can do to make the most of your time — pick the right setting for your upcoming meeting.
While you may think otherwise, a restaurant is a wonderful host site for a business meeting. That is, a carefully chosen restaurant that has the space and capability to host meetings is an excellent site for meetings with clients as well as your staff.
If you’ve never held an off-site meeting before, you may be wondering how to conduct a business meeting at a restaurant. That’s why we’ve gathered all our best tips for holding a business meeting at a restaurant.
Once you do some cursory research, you’ll quickly discover that there are plenty of good restaurants for business meetings. The key is to limit your list to full-service eateries and eliminate restaurants that have buffets from your list. When a buffet is available, your meeting’s attendees will have the perennial temptation to excuse themselves to replenish their plates at any given moment during your meeting.
For a business meeting at a restaurant to be successful, it’s vital for you to coordinate with a point person at the eatery. If your group will occupy only one table, there’s no need to request dedicated staff members to cater to you and your guests. If you’re going to host an event for your own employees or a large group of clients or prospects and your group will occupy two tables or more, it’s advisable to ask your point person to dedicate the appropriate number of servers to cater to your group exclusively until your meeting is over.
The location of your meeting within the restaurant will influence the ultimate success of your meeting. By their very nature, most restaurants are noisy and filled with distractions. If an eatery has a dedicated function space and your group will occupy more than one table, you may want to ask to be seated in that space as long as the room isn’t big enough to make your meeting attendees feel as if they’re sitting in a vacuum. If you want some privacy and a space is too large, request that dividers be set up to make the setting more intimate.
For meetings that will be held on the floor of the restaurant, it’s vital that you consider the flow of the restaurant. This is particularly important if you’re going to host a business meeting during peak hours. At a minimum, you should ensure your tables are located away from restrooms, the kitchen, and the bar area to minimize distractions. It’s also wise to reserve tables that are located away from windows so your guests won’t be sidetracked by anything going on outside.
As far as executing a business meeting goes, conducting business meetings at restaurants isn’t much different from conducting them in your office. You must prepare your agenda in advance and make sure all the equipment you need to pull off your meeting is in place and working. Just as you would for an in-house meeting, you should be the first one on site and give yourself ample time to ensure you have everything necessary on hand for your meeting to be a success.
Whether your meeting attendees are your clients, prospects, or employees, it’s crucial for you to adhere to business dining etiquette before, during, and after your meeting. If you fail to do so, you run the very serious risk of being perceived as unprofessional and incapable, which will make people reluctant to do business with you or cause you to lose respect at the office.
The first rule of etiquette is to embrace your role as the host of a business meeting. In your role as the host, it’s your responsibility to prevent that awkward moment when the check is presented from ever happening. When you arrive at the host site, give your credit or debit card to your point person and tell the individual you’ll settle up after any lingering attendees have left. Give polite but firm instructions that a folio containing your group’s bill should not be presented at your table under any circumstances.
As the host, it’s likely that you’ll set the tone for group meetings and that you’ll follow your client’s lead for more intimate get-togethers. In a group setting, you’ll probably order first, and others will follow your lead. If your meeting is during work hours, you may want to avoid ordering alcohol as an example that others should do the same if you’re meeting with your staff.
During one-on-one meetings or small group meetings with clients or prospects, it’s wise to allow your guests to order first. To encourage that to happen, you can suggest dishes you think they may like. Whether the meeting is happening during the day or evening, your guests should be allowed to order whatever they want to drink regardless of your intention to have or avoid alcohol.
It’s bad form to begin eating until everyone in your group has received their food. It’s equally ill-advised to request a to-go box if you’re unable to finish your meal. While you may be tempted to stack your dishes and flatware when you’re done eating – especially if you have a background in food service – resist. Let your server know you’re done eating by placing your knife and fork on your plate with the tines upward, blade inward, and the handles positioned at the equivalent of five o’clock on a clock face.
Even if you forget all the other rules of business dining etiquette, there’s one that should always be at the forefront of your mind — always treat the restaurant’s employees with the respect they most certainly deserve. Whether you find a hair in your food, a drink is spilled in your lap, or your food is sub-par, you need to remain courteous and appreciative.
Business meetings at restaurants are “live events,” which means things can go wrong at any given moment. Take mishaps in stride and handle them professionally and gracefully because every staff member really is doing their best to make your event a success. If you’ve ever seen a live television broadcast of a sitcom, you know that even highly trained professionals find themselves laughing at unscripted moments, yet the show goes on. Follow their example and carry on politely if something goes awry.
Tips for Choosing a Restaurant
As we stated earlier, it’s generally wise to choose a full-service restaurant for a business meeting rather than an eatery that has a buffet. For a meeting to be effective and worthwhile, your attendees have to be present which they may not be at critical moments if they get up repeatedly to refill their plates.
Beyond that, choosing a restaurant for a meeting depends on various factors including the size of your group. If you’re planning a meeting for your whole staff or an entire department, you may limit your search for a host site to eateries that have a separate function space. Alternatively, you may seek out restaurants that can re-position tables into an area of the floor that can be blocked off for your group.
If you’re planning a meeting with one client or key employee, it’s a good idea to present the person with three restaurant choices. Before doing so, do some research about the person to see if the individual has any dietary restrictions or simply ask the person if they have any outright. Choose the options you’re going to give the individual with those restrictions in mind. If your guest can’t eat gluten, call the restaurants you’re considering ahead of time to ensure they can accommodate your guest’s needs.
Distance is another consideration that should influence your choice of a host site. You should only host meetings at eateries that are convenient for your attendees. If there’s a choice between you traveling a greater distance or your guests having to do so, you should go the extra mile so to speak and pick a restaurant that’s closer to your attendees’ location.
In instances where you anticipate your attendees will be drinking alcohol, it’s imperative that you choose a restaurant for your group that’s serviced by taxis or a rideshare service. Even if it’s unlikely that anyone will overdo it, you should still play it safe and make sure your guests can get home safely just in case.
While you may be eager to show off your favorite eatery to your clients, prospects, or employees, you should resist that temptation. Although it’s a good idea to host meetings at restaurants you’re familiar with, you don’t want to do so at an eatery where you’re a regular. When you’re well-known at a restaurant on a personal level, people you’re familiar with may not realize you’re there for business purposes and may interrupt your meeting inadvertently.
Even though your meeting’s attendees will know they’re getting together with you to discuss business, the entire time you spend with them in a restaurant will not be spent talking about business. When you’ll actually get to the matter at hand will depend on a variety of factors, including cultural considerations. In some cases, you may start discussing business after appetizers are served while it may not be appropriate to talk about business until after the meal is over in other instances.
You never want your guests to feel rushed or as if their presence in an eatery is an inconvenience. Make sure the restaurant hosting your meeting will be accommodating if you and your attendees continuing to occupy space after you’ve eaten. This is particularly important if there’s a chance your meeting will continue beyond the eatery’s scheduled closing time.
Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House: The Ideal Restaurant for Business Meetings
Located in the DoubleTree by Hilton Wichita Hotel close to the airport, Chisholm’s Beef & Ale House is the perfect place to host meetings for local attendees and those you’re meeting with during a layover. Our renowned beef house is well-known for having a dedicated dining area that can accommodate large groups for business meetings. Our flexible floor space has high tops, soft seating, and communal tables that enable smaller groups to meet in a relaxing environment where they can socialize and get some work done.
Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House features innovative, farm-to-table American cuisine, a vast selection of beers, a wine wall that showcases a considerable variety of reds and whites, signature cocktails, and warm, attentive service. We only use the finest cuts of beef in our unique dishes.
Just as the Chisholm Trail changed the way the American people thought of the American West and its inhabitants, we’re committed to changing the way professionals like you view hosting meetings at restaurants. When you choose our beef house as the host site for your next meeting, you’ll quickly see that hosting a meeting at a restaurant is a hassle-free endeavor. And you’ll wonder why you never held a meeting at our convenient, readily accessible location before.
Our staff has the experience to help you plan a meeting that will dazzle your guests. When you book a meeting with us, your guests become ours, and we’ll labor tirelessly to make sure everyone enjoys mouth-watering food and drinks as they get the most out of your meeting. Like you, your guests will be spoiled with outstanding service that’s truly all about them.
If you want to meet with an out-of-town client in our bar area and watch a sporting event on one of our flat-screen televisions, grab a meal with your employees of the month, or host a formal meeting for tens of attendees, our beef house should be your go-to choice. Take a look at our corporate dining page and contact us to schedule your next business meeting today.