If planning a business dinner can be stressful, being tasked with planning it abroad might well sound like an absolute nightmare. And yet sometimes it is inevitable: it may come as part of your incentive travel program, it may be a way of celebrating a deal you just closed or it may be the follow-up to a kickoff meeting. If you are planning a business dinner in Italy this summer, however, we have a few tips for you.
4 Tips for Planning a Business Dinner in Italy
1. Find the perfect location
Finding the perfect location comes before finding the perfect restaurant. The best thing about planning a business dinner in Italy in the summer is that you and your guests will probably be sitting outside, which makes the view just as important as the décor would be if you were having dinner inside a restaurant or a hotel. Whether you are meeting your colleagues and clients in a city or a village, by the sea or in the countryside, chances are, a restaurant with a spectacular view is just waiting to be discovered. Seek out local knowledge to find the perfect spot. However, because the weather is not as stable as it used to be, always make sure the restaurant you choose can accommodate your guests indoors if needed.
2. Be mindful of local customs when picking a date
Summer in Italy is a hectic season. There are plenty of national and local holidays and you might want to take a look at the local calendar of festivities before you start planning a business dinner. It is common knowledge, for instance, that it is best to avoid planning business events on the 15th of August, which is a national holiday. Most international travellers, however, ignore that the 10th is an equally poor choice: while this is not an “official” holiday, it is traditionally reserved for outdoor parties, during which the main attraction is represented by the unusually high number of falling stars that can be seen through the night sky. Besides, a lot of towns, cities, villages and marinas have their own summer holidays and village fêtes, from the celebration of local saint patrons to ancient traditions that can reach worldwide fame (like the Palio in Siena). Do your research when planning a business dinner, and make sure to pick a date that won’t clash with any major local event that your guests might want to attend instead.
3. Choose an appropriate menu
When planning a business dinner, your goal should always be to treat your guests to the culinary experience of a lifetime. And – of course – there is no better place than Italy for that. If you are working on the menu in advance, make sure you offer your guests a range of tasty and yet light options. When the temperatures rise, excessively rich, fatty or salty food becomes much less appealing. Ingredients such as cured meats are less palatable, red wines with a rich body feel less enjoyable and creamy desserts will leave you feeling queasy and sleepy. When in doubt: always go local. Every Italian region has its own tradition of summer recipes that turn local, seasonal ingredients into pure culinary bliss and match them with the perfect selection of wines. In most Italian regions, summer is associated with a seafood-based diet and plenty of fresh fruit. Before deciding on a menu, however, be sure to research your guests’ preferences, allergies and otherwise dictated dietary restrictions, to make sure everyone feels welcome.
4. Pick a theme and set the table
You don’t necessarily have to set the table yourself, but it is a good idea to pick a theme and stick to it when choosing the décor, the mise-en-place, and when designing the official invitation. White parties are extremely popular in the summer, but – depending on the occasion – you can get creative. Your theme might be connected with the professional milestone you reached, with the contract you signed, with the guest speaker you hired or with a celebration of your own company culture. Whatever you pick, make sure it is visible and recognisable throughout the event