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When they’re not busy satisfying their hunger for knowledge, collaboration, and business potential, delegates turn to food to refuel and stay energized for the day ahead. But an event’s culinary offerings not only help to keep delegates going on the tradeshow floor, they can make or break a conference experience for attendees.
In an ever changing event industry, delegate tastes are evolving. With a shift toward socially responsible and experiential events, guests are asking for a lot more than basic nourishment or meal options that meet dietary needs.
With a new facility opening in 2017, the award-winning Halifax Convention Centre team has been taking a closer look at new trends and drivers of customer experience. With food playing such an important role in the overall event experience, culinary offerings has been a key area of focus.
Sample a taste of their learnings. Here are five ways you can step up your event’s culinary game.
Most venues and catering teams pride themselves on serving regional specialties, but local is taking on a whole new meaning. Guests are increasingly interested in knowing what local farm their meat is sourced from, where their fish is caught or what seasonal vegetables were incorporated into the menu.
There’s a sense of pride in eating local, and allowing guests to experience home-grown and seasonal food items helps to deliver on their overall event satisfaction level.
Local Wine and Craft Beer
The quest for local everything extends beyond veggies and cuts of meat. Popular choices for beverages now include local estate wines and regional craft beers. Nova Scotia is proud to boast many local wineries and vast craft beer selections. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, even embraced this at the World Economic Forum, with a bottle of Nova Scotia’s local Grand Pré Wines', Tidal Bay.
Work with your venue to incorporate unique food and beverage offerings into your event menu. Try and expose guests to local traditions, including culinary offerings, to give delegates a true taste of the region’s culture and hospitality and leave them with lasting memories of your conference.
Photo Credit: George Simhoni
Healthy and Sustainable Food
More organizations are now factoring sustainability into their event menu. Venues and catering teams should expect to see increased demand for offerings such as sustainable seafood, as well as healthy menu items that are locally sourced and organic, fairly traded, seasonal, and not processed.
Ask your catering team to purposely work imperfect fruits and vegetables, which might otherwise be thrown out, into your menu. Another option is to donate your event leftovers to the local food bank to help reduce food waste and support social good.
Embrace delegate values by working with your venue to find sustainable solutions for your culinary offerings to help reduce your event carbon footprint and provide guests with healthy food options.
Grab and Go with a Flare
Table service has its time and place, but with increased demands and busy schedules, interest in highly convenient, portable food is growing. Guests want the flexibility of grabbing breakfast on the way to a session, or refueling while they wait for the perfect moment to introduce themselves to an industry contact.
Portable snack food options free up time for delegates to mingle and network in between re-energizing from the tradeshow floor.
Photo Credit: Scott Munn
Comfort Food with a Twist
While practical, comfort food options are expected, such as wraps and sandwiches, we’re seeing a lot of traditional favourites reborn with more sophisticated pairings or unexpected flavours. For example, grilled apricots, mascarpone cheese, blackberries and honey combine together for an amazing dessert. And, believe it or not, potato chips and a champagne like Veuve Clicquot go great together.
The easiest way to make sure that your meal isn't soon forgotten is to think of new and exciting combinations. The gourmet twist to classic foods will delight delegate taste buds and leave them wanting more in their quest for the ultimate event experience.
Nothing makes someone feel more satisfied than amazing food, and a big part of hosting involves feeding. Take pride in the quality of the food you serve by incorporating some of these simple considerations to your event culinary offerings.
Nobody wants a ‘hangry’ delegate. Recognizing that food is an important element of the overall event experience, start working with your venue and event catering team early on to discuss how you can deliver, fresh, sustainable and inspired meals to tantalize the taste buds of your guests. Don’t forget to consider the diverse culinary wants, needs and desires of your delegates to keep their hunger satisfied all conference long. And never hesitate to embrace all that a destination’s local harvest has to offer.
While tastes are ever changing, always try to stay ahead. The award-winning Halifax Convention Centre culinary team continues to perfect delicious new creations to delight their guests, and you can too. Ultimately, you want to be able to invite your delegates to experience a meal they’ll write home about.