The power of private dining

Robert Walton MBE, President of the UK’s Restaurant Association, and Founder of the Nth Degree Club (an exclusive and highly aspirational association for entrepreneurs), talks about the launch of his Nth Degree Book and the power of connecting with like-minded professionals

This month is a tremendously exciting one for me, as it heralds the launch of the Nth Degree Club Book – the world’s leading private dining guide for the business fraternity.

While London is generally accepted as the food capital of the world, the capital’s private dining rooms are less well known than their front-facing restaurant counterparts. Yet they have a pivotal role to play and provide the backdrop to some of the finest dining environments on the international stage.

At last, here is an insightful and valuable business tool that looks behind the mainstream restaurant brands to the rooms and venues that form some of the best-kept secrets of hospitality, and inspire professional engagement on many fronts.

The old adage that people buy from people still holds true today. And, despite all economic indicators, business dining remains a powerful medium. After all, what could be a better environment for doing business than sharing good food, warmth and ambience?

Indeed, a recent survey of the elite 500-strong Nth Degree membership showed that over 70% agreed that meetings held over the dining table are more productive and lead to stronger relationships. Most importantly, there was agreement across members that business dining facilitates better business.

This is, in my view, due to a combination of factors. Not only does eating fuel the body and brain, which aids effective negotiation and concentration, but we would all agree that a convivial environment is relaxing, and allows for more lateral and open thinking.

There is also scientific evidence to support these sentiments, provided in a study from Harvard Business School earlier this year, which suggested that the food itself, as well as the ambience, played a significant role in deal making or breaking. It found that when you eat, you release glucose into your body which in turn can enhance complex brain activities, bolster self-control and regulate aggressive behaviours. In addition, it reported that unconsciously mimicking a dining partner may instigate more positive feelings towards them.

As the economy struggles slowly back to strength, with recent news reports highlighting how we have just narrowly avoided a triple dip recession, I am certain that the private dining sector will continue to burgeon.

Entrepreneurial associations such as the Nth Degree Club, which offer business leaders the opportunity to make the very most of their hard-won time, allow for engagement with like-minded individuals and deliver high-end professional connectivity, will thrive as those leaders work smarter not harder.

Robert Walton, MBE, is founder of the Nth Degree Club

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