Getting a high level of value from food and beverage events has become more important than ever for meeting planners. Beyond focusing simply on keeping costs down, planners are finding that they can get more out of their F&B by connecting meal functions to a broader theme, boosting the entire experience by turning a mundane meal into a meeting highlight. These themes can be specific, such as healthy eating or local cuisine. But they can also be more general, with menus based around abstract ideas like teamwork, creativity or even honesty.
The Value of Competition
One way to enhance a meal without breaking the bank is to turn it into a competition and an opportunity for teamwork. A great example to enhance a team building experience is a ‘Chopped’ themed competition. Attendees can be broken into teams of 10 with each team being responsible for a course (appetizer, salad, main course and dessert). This is a great way to bring people together while still allowing for some individual creativity.
Connecting to the Destination
The local cuisine is one of the most distinctive and memorable aspects about a destination but while incorporating regional food into an event menu has become standard practice, planners are getting more creative with how they tie a meal to a destination. To create a memorable dining experience, incorporate local farmers, purveyors, wine makers. Have them present during dinner allowing one on one contact with attendees to ask questions and learn about thier products. Also, dont be afraid to use off-site venues. These venues will give your event the authenticity of the area. Maybe a wine dinner in the wine makers vineyard or big city themed dinner at a stadium. The possibilities are endless!
Employee health and wellness has become an increasingly important priority for many organizations, particularly with insurance costs on the rise. Food and beverage events present an ideal opportunity to demonstrate an organization’s commitment to worker’s well-being while also reminding employees to maintain a responsible diet. A great example of this was demonstrated by a New York City based planning company. They brought in large vegetable and food carts so that attendees could grab a dish as if at a 19th-century market. A juice bar offered a variety of drinks, with small signs explaining how each improved health, energized the brain or boosted immunity. the centerpiece of the event was a 16-foot wall of organic romaine lettuce, still growing in its soil. Attendees could pick their bit of lettuce and a chef would chop it, wash it and make it into a salad as they watched.
Planners looking to give their meeting message a culinary twist may consider reaching out to groups that specialize in F&B events. These could include “Cooking Farm to Table” held at an outdoor farm and/or “Amazing Kitchen Race”, which combines meal preparation with a timed GPS scavenger hunt.
The Kitchen is a great place to start to build that trust. It neutralizes everything that happens in the boardroom or conference room or in team meetings. In addition to the bonds build during the preparation of the meal, actually sharing a meal adds more opportunity for conversation and connection. Plus, even people who know a little something about cooking learn something!
These are a few different ways to help meeting planners enhance their attendees dining experience through creativity, connection and thinking outside the box. Enjoy!