As meetings professionals, we are always on the lookout for the next big thing, that Wow Factor that sparks interest in guests and ignites conversation about your must-attend events. How do you achieve this? Well, you could enhance your décor, hire the best keynote speaker and bring in engaging entertainment. Or you could let your menu do the work and steal the show while saving big bucks in your budget!
Let’s first talk fads versus trends. It’s important to note the difference to be sure that your months of planning pay off and stay relevant! You want to avoid pouring your time and dollars into a fad that leaves your guests going “Been there, done that!” by the time they attend your event, or worse, “I saw X company do that at X event.” A fad is temporary and short-lived. It’s something that has caught on but will quickly fizzle out. A trend, on the other hand, has long-lasting interest and often has a broader reach. You can repeat a trend at multiple events over the year and often even further into the future.
A fad in food you are probably aware of is the Doughnut Wall. How many more doughnuts can we eat? Don’t answer that! When you’ve seen one, you have seen them all. How about the Moscow Mule craze? 2018 was a copper mug frenzy! Ever had a s’mores bar or some spin on a s’mores dessert? These are examples of fads that when first experienced are awe-inspiring, but after repeatedly seeing them throughout the year, they become less memorable.
Then what are the current trends, you might be asking yourself? Our industry is jumping onboard the health and wellness train and doing so in an engaging way. We have acknowledged that our guests are more health conscious and looking toward their event professionals to assist them in making healthy choices during their business travels.
Here are some ways you can incorporate healthy options for your guests:
- Have an option for egg whites in addition to scrambled eggs
- Order individual cups of yogurt so that you can request that half be light or fat-free varieties
- Rather than whole fruit or a fruit bowl, offer fruit skewers since they are more visually enticing
- Request proteins that are grilled rather than fried
- Offer pretzels or baked chips in place of traditional fried chips in your boxed lunches or sandwich buffets
- Have the salad dressings and cheeses for salad bars put on the side so guests can determine their own serving size
- Skip the candy bars on breaks and substitute protein bars and sliced fruit
- Offer a build-your-own trail mix with healthy nuts and dried fruits
- Request miniature desserts and cookies, or smaller-cut brownies so that guests get that sweet tooth fix but aren’t tempted to over-indulge
- Have a lighter option that is protein-rich so that guests can eat low-calorie yet feel satisfied with the high protein. Avoid entrée salads that leave them with the impression they are receiving less
- Request that vegetable accompaniments are prepared without added butter or oils
- Provide a dessert shooter or even a trio of petite desserts that are one to two bites
Attendees are asking for more choices to fit their active lifestyles and more options to help guide them toward their wellness goals while on business travel. Don’t be afraid to ask your chef to help you find creative and delicious ways to lighten up the menu. They are the experts in flavor and know the creative ways to cut calories without compromising taste.
In addition to healthy options, guests want photo-worthy foods that they can share with co-workers and friends. Are your offerings notable enough to earn their own post on social media?
Tips that will have your guests taking pics:
- Color is key! Make sure your offerings have a vibrant variety of colors
- Design – incorporate the logo or brand colors in an inspiring way
- Plate – find unique vessels to display your food
- Size – micro and jumbo versions get double takes for the shock factor!
- Traditional foods reinvented, such as a deconstructed dish
- Live-action stations where chefs are creating food in front of them
- Hands-on activities where they can learn a new skill or create something they are proud of
As we continue to press forward with events in 2019, make sure that you are staying relevant with these helpful tips. Don’t let your event fade with fads, triumph with trends!
Amanda Sherman, CMP
Marketing Specialist – Corporate Events