The rules on hosting a business dinner

Hosting a business dinner can help build positive relationships with your clients or finalise a deal. It does, however, add another dimension to business meetings, one that means things can easily go wrong if not managed carefully. As the host, it is up to you to make sure things run as smoothly as possible.

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When inviting clients to a business dinner, try to give them as much notice as possible, but aim for at least a week. Confirm with people the day before just in case they have had a change of plans; if they have, be gracious and rearrange. As this is your dinner, it’s best that you don’t cancel as it sends a message that you are disorganized, and people may feel disrespected.


Choose a venue you are familiar with and know provides good food and good service. Avoid places that might be too busy or too noisy. When booking your table, speak to the restaurant in advance, talking through what you will need from their staff and that you will be paying the bill; if you can, arrange to pay this in advance.

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If you aren’t sure which venue would be best, choose a high-end option, such as the F1 Paddock Club as they will more likely understand your needs. You might also want to consider using an outside company such as to help you plan.

During the dinner, follow proper etiquette:

•       Dress appropriately, making a good impression on your clients and showing you are serious about working with them.

•       Arrive in plenty of time, allowing you to check your table is suitable (ask to be moved if it isn’t) and confirm seating arrangements.

•       If you are familiar with the menu, make suggestions but don’t overwhelm your client; keep it to conversational recommendations, what you ate last time for example or a wine you enjoyed.

•       Always let your clients order first.

•       If there is alcohol, limit yourself to two drinks.

•       If you can, give the restaurant your credit card when you arrive so the bill isn’t brought to the table. If it is brought to the table, don’t question it, but make the payment as discreetly as possible.

•       If there are issues, be discreet, excusing yourself between courses to handle them.

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