Recently, at the Michigan Meetings Expo I had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion on Food and Beverage Trends in the meetings and incentive industry. Times have evolved and it is no longer about selecting menus from a standard list of options a month or two ahead of a program operation. Times have changed and so have tastes. Expectations have been raised and creativity is being challenged. The dining experience is as important as the food quality and beyond the ever-important need for value, planners are even being challenged to match corporate social responsibility values.
Several ideas were shared and discussed at the Michigan Meetings Expo (#MMExpo12). Among them were:
- Bring the chef into the picture as early as the RFP stage, use custom menus, but then give the Chef or F&B Director some leeway to adjust based on seasonal opportunities when the time comes. Time spent here will save time later and delivers a better F&B solution. Using the expertise of the chef and Food & Beverage Director takes time off your own plate, will produce the tastiest and freshest menus, and deliver value by taking advantage of the best current values from the venue’s suppliers.
- Track F&B history – this data can prove invaluable with ordering quantities more efficiently in the future, selecting items popular with the group preferences, and reducing waste (which also reduces the carbon footprint of the meeting).
- Consider the beneficial impact on the environment (carbon footprint) and what you give back to the local economy by buying locally.
- Plan menus around themes such as Healthy Living, Slow Comfort Food, Local and Regional, All Around the World Dining Experience, Good Old American BBQ.
- Every little bit helps: water stations instead of water bottles; purchase in bulk quantities rather on a per person basis; save the dessert at lunch for the next meeting break; salad is generally cheaper than soup (and can be pre-set to save time); under-guarantee buffet meals since the venue will provide a certain amount extra and if your attendance is set, it can’t go over; ask about dead-stock wine (discounted because will no longer be carried); use entertainment to occupy the guests and reduce consumption; don’t call “last call”; shorten cocktail parties to 30-45 minutes (normally plenty long enough and can also help avoid over-drinking).
For other thoughts and ideas please visit these great articles: