VIRTUAL CATERING CASE STUDY
PROMPTWORKS EVENTS: COMMUNITY INNOVATION FORUM & TEAM BUILDING
EVENTS THAT ARE EXTRAORDINARY
Promptworks is a prominent design and software development firm in Philadelphia. And to them, that means showing up when Philadelphia needs them. In June, Promptworks gathered its community together for Ingenious Ideas, an event focused on starting a dialogue about building a better Philly.
“Philly, like every major city, was having a tough year. We wanted to convene local leaders to talk about the things that were affecting our community and how we could survive the pandemic together,” said Christine Olivas, Sales and Marketing Director, who was in charge of planning.
Promptworks is known for throwing good parties, and Christine was well poised to translate their live events into a virtual format. In addition to having hosted many professional and community virtual events, she is also a comedian and show producer. When the city first locked down, Christine launched Fools for Good, a virtual comedy show with proceeds benefiting a variety of causes, including supporting essential employees, local venues, and the Philadelphia Black Lives Matter Movement. In just four shows, she gathered over 500 virtual attendees and raised over $6,000.
“People automatically think Zoom events have to be boring, but that’s not true at all,” Christine said. After working with Dineable for a Fools for Good event, she called Mark to develop a menu that showed off Promptworks’ unique personality and featured handcrafted local products. They partnered with Drexel Food Labs to build a menu that highlighted local Philly food businesses and fused local and innovation.
Promptworks’ invited more than 100 local business and community leaders to attend – founders, executives, community leaders, music organizations, food entrepreneurs, and staff. The goal was to stimulate dialogue on key issues affecting the community — from Black entrepreneurship to diversifying the tech pipeline.
The day of the event, DJ Rebel from Warehouse on Watts set the vibe with live music. The agenda was driven by topics submitted by attendees ahead of time. Topics addressed: How do we better educate? How do we collaborate in an all virtual environment? How do we continue to nurture our networks? These drove lightning talk presentations and breakout groups. In the meantime, everyone was chatting on Twitter about all the local food items. Even Christine (a self-proclaimed foodie) discovered new Philly brands.
The event was exactly what Promptworks hoped it would be: a forum for innovation. And it started an important dialogue about issues affecting their home city of Philly.
“Whatever type of event you’re planning- business conferences, comedy or entertainment shows, family reunions- you can make it special. Be creative. Include music, include shared food experiences. Make it fun.”
We tested out four different delivery providers to see how each operated, allowing us to figure out which were the best fit for our needs.
- Lesson 1: Don’t use more than one provider unless you have to.
- Lesson 2: This is significantly different than the on-demand restaurant delivery model that many are used to.
- Lesson 3: Sort & label everything as clearly as possible before drivers arrive for pickups.
SHOWCASE YOUR COMPANY CULTURE
To its leadership, Promptworks‘ culture is everything. And at the center of that culture is food.
“We love to eat,” says Nicole Phoenix, Operation and Community Engagement Coordinator who supports any and all internal and external events. “Before we went virtual, all of our events included good food and craft beer.”
When they went remote, Promptworks’ first priorities were keeping everyone safe and healthy, and helping employees transition to remote work. When it seemed like remote work could go on indefinitely, they turned their focus to these events.
Oktoberfest is historically Promptworks’ biggest event. Team members, prospective clients, past clients, media outlets, and anyone they want in their inner circle is invited. It’s their opportunity to show off their personality and culture. Capturing this experience virtually was especially important because Promptworks has seen its staff grow significantly since its employees began working from home. There were some people who had never had the opportunity to meet during this time.
Nicole transformed the in-person Oktoberfest to be a virtual OktoberFEAST. After Dineable’s success at Promptwork’s Ingenious Ideas event in June, Nicole was excited to reach out to Mark to develop the menu with a Philly-twist.
“Dineable is doing something that a lot of companies are trying to do, but Mark has such a great handle on his business. He and Christina make it super easy. He listens. His proposal was spot on right away and within budget. I didn’t need to tweak the menu at all. And with a little bit of work by me at the front end, they handled everything with a 100% success rate,” Nicole praised.
The menu adapted their traditional German fare to include modern items from local vendors and food shops- nearly all of them from Reading Terminal Market. The menu included butter braided pretzels, German cheese, local bologna, and a candy apple.
“Usually planning for catering is stressful in general- allergies, food restrictions, people who don’t drink- dineable took care of everything. The event went off without a hitch.”
Nicole Phoenix, Operation and Community Engagement Coordinator
“It’s Mark’s relationships with local vendors that really makes him a hometown hero. Reading Terminal has been around for 130 years, and now it’s hurting economically. When our guests were raving about different items, it felt great telling them who we were supporting,” Nicole said.
Dineable’s relationships came in clutch the day before the event. A miscommunication left Promptworks’ unable to receive the beer they ordered from a separate vendor. Before she started scrambling, Nicole reached out to Mark. Within an hour, Dineable had sourced two fall beers from Philly’s Cheshire Brewing Co. that matched the menu perfectly. Attendees received the beer on time as well as their catered package with Promptworks’ swag to enhance the Oktoberfeast activities.
“They loved everything. It felt good to keep alive our shared love of good food and beer, and those things were excellent conversation starters,” Nicole said.
- Always have a Plan B. Nicole called Dineable the day before Oktoberfeast with news that the beer wasn’t going to show up. But within the hour, Dineable secured two local fall beers for delivery.