Durian Party – What To Expect And Things To Consider
It’s one of those things that many secretly wish for during durian season. Especially for those in HR that are tasked to organize durian parties for the staff.
With how durians are getting so expensive these days, you don’t have to feel guilty for urging your boss to spend the team-bonding budget on a durian feast. There’s nothing more bonding than to smell the same as every team member 😀
So you have somehow subtly delivered the hint to the decision maker, and you get the go-ahead to coordinate a durian party. Maybe even make it into an annual event. Maybe it has nothing to do with work and you are thinking about a durian birthday party or just a simple durian themed social gathering.
What are some of the factors to consider?
The first is of course the headcount. How many employees and guests are you talking about? The last thing you want as host is to invite everybody that needs to be there and worth inviting, then don’t have enough durians to serve them. A riot can ensure!
From the perspective of the organizer and host, it’s better to have more than enough for everybody rather than not enough for everyone. It can be embarrassing for a host if as much as 1 guest didn’t get any durians because it ran out.
Depending on the durian vendor and supplier, pricing can be structured to be a fixed price for a fixed amount of fruits or variable price depending on how much your company staff consumes.
So if you are unable to get a rough estimate of the headcount, you need to get a vendor who would offer variable pricing.
Don’t blindly pay a quoted price without bargaining… unless you are really so generous with your money. Durians are already very profitable for resellers. There’s no need to be charitable here.
At the same time, remember that if you pay peanuts, you might get bad service. What you want to pay is a fair price for the products and services delivered.
The number of people also helps to forecast your budget. $50 to $100 per head is a number to work with. This don’t just include the price of the durians, but the miscellaneous things as well. If you are quoted $100 per head than it definitely has to be all in. If all you are requesting for are the durians without any bells and whistles, then $50 per head is already a steep price.
For the average person, a 2kg durian with husk is more than he or she can finish. At market price, a 2kg durian can cost as low as under $20 to as high as $50 depending on the cultivar… without factoring in any bulk discount. Put that into perspective when calculating your costs.
At party pricing, you might be looking at $20/kg for musang king and $10/kg for other cultivars which is discussed later. The pricing will of course depends on the supply available in the market at that point in time during the season.
Remember that you are buying in bulk. It’s essentially a group buy of some sort. So asking or negotiating a lower price is a legitimate request. Just walk to a durian store, say you want to buy 10 durians, and see for yourself how you will be given a discount compared to 1 or 2 durians.
Higher volume usually equates to lower price as sellers will generate higher revenue and profits even with lower margins.
Moreover the most expensive durians are grade A durians. Most, if not all, vendors will not send such durians to an event. Simply because such events are the best opportunities to clear the lower grade inventory. It won’t be business-savvy to bring grade A fruits to a party…
If you have a small team of less than 20 people, then the better option might be to reserve a space at a durian store. Sellers with seating space would be able to better accommodate and provide services in their premises. Their durians are all there and you will get to choose from their whole inventory. It’s more hassle free but you’d then have to ponder about how the participants will get there.
Some stores even have air-conditioned eating halls and rooms for you to indulge in the durians without breaking a sweat.
When the number of people you are organizing for is a high number, then you need to find an open-air space. The best venues are locations where it is open air, and also has a roof over it so that people will not be sweating under the sun and also protected from the rain (if any).
Whether this is a space within the company premises or outside at another place, you need to keep your durian vendors in the loop as they need to plan the logistics for how to deliver the durians, where to set up their booths, and the manpower required.
These booths and working space are necessary for loading and unloading. And also to cut open the durians. Then there’s also the small matter of seating area to setup tables and chairs. But depending on how you vision the durian event, you might also want to do away with tables and chairs.
Many durian parties are done standing. Or people just seat anywhere they want. This is a factor to think over because renting these furniture can be costly which can only drive up the total costs.
For a lot of people, the real prize are the durians. They’d eat it anywhere, standing or seating, with or without tables and chairs. They’d already be very grateful for the treat. So tables and chairs might not be necessary unless there are VIPs.
Ideally, there’s also a washing point at the event venue so that participants will not bring all that durian aroma on their hands back into the air-conditioned office. If there no such facility, then wet tissue might be your best alternative.
If you are doing a small social gathering at home, then maybe what you need is a simple dose of durian catering. That will be more straight forward to plan as the location is set and you already know what you can do and what you cannot.
Types of durians
It goes without saying that musang king will be on the menu. But do you want a musang king party or a durian party?
Do you want a buffet style party? An omakase experience? Or give everybody 1 set? Or maybe you have a unique master plan in mind?
This is a question that you have to ponder over.
Musang king is expensive… even if the expenses has been approved by the boss. The implication is that you might end up with lesser durians for the corporate event on a fixed budget. If you mix it up with other durian varieties that are cheaper and more affordable, then you can have better assurance that you will not run out of durians.
In events where there are food involved, I’ll say it again that it’s always better to have too much to eat rather than not having enough. You can always pack the leftovers home as a takeaway… which I know you are already scheming for…
And if you want to try black thorn for the first time at the company’s expense (which I know you do), you can easily go over-budget since black thorn is higher priced than mao shan wang (MSW). So unless you have an unlimited budget, you should strategically plan out the stock of durians to balance things out.
Some of the less costly durian cultivars to consider are D13, 101, chanee, gang hai, etc. You can check with the durian supplier for the available inventory. But at the same time, please don’t take what they say at face value.
Obtain quotes from at least 3 vendors before deciding who to go with.
It’s not just about price. You want to get a sense of whether they’d be able to deliver good durians and good experiences. It’s also about whether what they offer provides good value for money.
For example, drinks are usually included in the package as well. So are disposable plates, cutlery, serviette, food-grade plastic gloves, etc. Durian vendors usually also supply other types of fruits like coconuts, mangosteens, longans, rambutans, etc. You might want to add them to your order if you want to have them too.
Also take note that it is totally possible and highly probable that a vendor might give you a price range. Stating that the final price cannot be confirmed until the group event due to daily price fluctuations. Prices are lowest during the peak season.
Some vendors prepare durians before the event and properly pack them in boxes for the patrons to help themselves to. But most vendors will bring the durians with their trucks and open the durians at the event itself.
The latter is obviously better as you will be able to observe the quality of the fruitlets that are extracted from the husks.
When durians are packed beforehand, you really don’t know how fresh the fruits are.
Saying that, whole durians with husk might also not be 100% fresh as the service provider could have brought the unsold bad inventory to clear it all at one-go at your gathering. But at least you will be able to inspect the whole process.
Don’t forget that it’s implied that the vendor will clear all the rubbish including the durian husks at the end of the event. They should provide all the support… unless you offer to do it yourself for one reason or another.
The simplest more affordable solution is to host the durian event at an open space. Most office buildings will have an open space that can be used. Just check with the property manager. Then set aside a small area for the vendor. People can then just collect their durians there and find a space themselves to eat their durians. But this arrangement might not create the bonding atmosphere you ideally want. So it really depends on the parameters you are working within.
Finally, remember to check the amount of discarded durians that are unripe or inedible. If you feel that the amount condemned is too considerable to ignore, then ask for a discount. This is a term that you should get the vendor to agree to before signing them up. Otherwise, the vendor might offer a rebate for the next time you hire them… which begs the question why you should engage them again if they provided bad service…