Increasing awareness of the positive impact a healthy lifestyle has on the body and mind is, perhaps not surprisingly, changing the expectations of delegates attending events.
With a desire to maintain often strict dietary and wellness regimes whilst away from home, delegates are driving seismic changes in event catering. We are seeing increases in healthy food options and lifestyles – vegan and gluten-free are now mainstream – spaces for quiet contemplation are found at locations all around meetings venues and many also include space for exercise.
Food is at the forefront of delegate’s minds in the midst of this healthy lifestyle revolution. According to a report published in June by the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) and the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO), delegate influence is felt across five key food-related areas:
Environmental impact – Food waste, plastic packaging and other issues relating to reducing the impact of catering on the environment are now often discussed at the event planning stages.
Local cuisine – serving local food is increasingly important as delegates want to experience local cuisine from a cultural point of view. The impact of food miles on the environment is also a consideration, as is supporting local producers where possible.
Eating on the go – younger delegates in particular are keen on shorter and more engaging conference sessions that leave time for networking and idea sharing, with food much more often served “on the go”, standing or festival-style.
Increased dietary expectations – last year’s IACC survey on ‘Trends in Nutrition and Delegate Wellbeing’ painted a picture of “an unprecedented increase” in health-orientated foods at events, and ABPCO members agreed that delegates have increasingly high expectations that their individual dietary preferences should be met while attending events.
Social media drives culinary scrutiny – through social media delegates can provide instant feedback on the quality, style and presentation of conference catering – there is nowhere for low standard food to hide. Food bloggers, vloggers and niche foodie websites are also adding to the interest in food quality and nutritional values, again, particularly among younger people.
The report – “Leading the Way – Food for Thought” – illustrates the demand for change in the considerations of delegates’ health and wellbeing from venues. Most venues appear more than willing to meet expectations, but their challenge is to do so against a backdrop of ever-tightening budgets. Using local suppliers could be the solution. In destinations such as Wales, local suppliers, sustainable food chains and artisan businesses have an opportunity to work with venues to manage costs, while supplying a catering offering consisting of the highest quality fare, that is healthier, sustainable and more authentic.
Would you like to hear more about wellbeing at events? IBTM’s very own Portfolio Director, Shane Hannam, has shone a spotlight on sessions not to be missed at IBTM World 2018. Read more