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< Back to news 30 September, 2015

Conferencing - the gourmet edit.

Capitalise on the busiest time of year for conferencing; advice for hoteliers to boost their profits during conferences.

As we reach the peak of the conferencing season in October, both organisers and delegates should be thinking about how to make the most of their time at a conference and food is one element that is vital to get right. A nutritional and appetising food offering will not only lead to increased profitability, but can also have a direct impact on delegates’ productivity during a conference. With a recent report from Amadeus Foods* showing that 90% of delegates that attended five or more events a year were disappointed with the food, the message is clear that some event organisers still aren’t hitting the mark.

All too often we see the same frozen canapé style foods at conferences, but delegates are becoming increasingly more demanding and aware of what is available in the market. A unique food offering at a conference is an effective way to set yourself apart from competitors and win repeat business, without damaging your margins.

Here at Beacon, we work closely with expert supplier Bidvest Foodservice, to offer expert industry advice to help hoteliers maximise their food offering for conference delegates. Drawing on advice from Bidvest, Emma Warrington, Senior Food Buyer at Beacon, has put together her key points for hoteliers to consider:

Local is everything

Often, delegates don’t get to experience much, if any, of the city they are in during the event, so it can make a real difference to their experience if their food is tailored or personalised to the region. Serving locally or regionally sourced ingredients, or adding regional specialities to your menu, allows delegates to get a taste of the city they are in without having to leave the venue.

Small is the new big

Time is scarce at a conference, and more often than not, breaks are networking opportunities or ‘working lunches’. We are now seeing that bite-sized dishes have overtaken larger portions in popularity for conferencing - delegates are now more likely to head for easy-to-handle plates that make it easier for them to eat whilst networking with other attendees. Consider serving food in a continuous reception format to provide a welcome diversion to an extended meeting and help maintain energy levels of delegates.

Big on flavour, low on fat

Following consumer trends towards healthy, low fat foods should be considered with your conferencing menus, and can help differentiate your offering from competitors’. Ingredients that are proving most popular with delegates include protein alternatives such as whole grains and leafy greens, as well as low-fat and low-sugar dishes. Providing low-carb high-protein options at lunch will increase participation and attention span among delegates in the afternoon.

Something different

Anything that adds a little excitement or theatre to a corporate event is sure to stay in delegates’ minds. One example that we’ve seen recently at a central London hotel is a tower of sugar hoops instead of the traditional cubes or sachets to use in teas and coffees. Consider something different to the traditional concepts to make your food-offering stand out to delegates.

Emma commented:

“There are a variety of options available for hoteliers who want to improve their offering during conferences. Food needs to be seen less as a necessity and more as a critical way to improve guest satisfaction. The technology in the room is often a priority, which can sometimes lead to the food offering being overlooked, but a well-rounded offering with equal importance placed on each factor will ultimately lead to repeat business and increased profits. 

To see how Beacon could help your business create winning conferencing menus, please contact us today.