We recently reached out to industry partners and friends to discuss emerging food and beverage trends affecting meetings and events in the post–pandemic world. Top of the list? Rising catering costs coming up against stagnant internal budgets. Water shortages, climate change, fuel pricing, and pandemic revenue loss are just some of the driving forces behind increasing menu prices.
Moving forward, we’ll need to get a little more creative with how we craft food and beverage programs that drive lower costs without sacrificing the attendee experience. We’ve outlined some solutions below — along with a couple of food and beverage trends that emerged in recent months.
Once you negotiate a fair food and beverage minimum inside your hotel contract, here are some key principals to help you stay on target.
- Engage your hotel catering team early and set a firm budget but give them flexibility to be creative inside your numbers. They will want to shine, and you’ll stay on budget.
- Ask the chef about seasonal options and what can be sourced locally.
- Guests are generally tired on arrival night. Consider lighter, more economic fare during your welcome reception, and elevate the menu for your gala night.
Curate-Your-Own Clean Eating
The pandemic put a sharp focus on healthy eating to boost the immune system. When attendees break from a meeting, they expect choices that sharpen focus and increase energy. Below are some ways to infuse wellness into your next event.
- Breakfast and breaks are easy areas to promote health. Provide cheese and nuts versus carbs and sweets or add supplements and superfoods to smoothies and drinks.
- Provide options – from Paleo to Keto to Vegan, people like to choose foods that support their specific healthy eating habits.
- Serve elevated mocktails at your reception. The “sober curious” movement is here to stay, so make sure all your guests feel included.
Surprise and Delight
An inspired food and beverage program raises the attendee experience and reflects your brand! How food is presented should be as creative as your overall experience design. Here are just a few ways to make your meals memorable and immersive.
- Take what’s expected and predictable and deconstruct it —break it down with creativity. What was once a burger bar (yawn) is now an opportunity to craft an open-faced sandwich with kimchi and gochujang mayo.
- Keep up with what’s new — from hard Kombucha to caffeine gummies to CBD oil smoothies, stay relevant!
- Consider small bites and grab-and-go options (in eco-friendly containers, of course!). Your attendees will have health protocol on their minds for quite some time, and beautifully designed, glass-covered cuisine and clever containers will add whimsy to your next event.