Food + Drink: What Attendees Really Want

Your attendees have expectations when it comes to food and beverage offerings. Here’s how to meet — and exceed — expectations.

Conference-goers, meeting attendees and guests at social gatherings show up for the content and networking opportunities — what will I learn, what goals will I accomplish and whom will I meet?

But what makes the event experience rich and memorable are the details like food, drinks and how they are served.

Recent research by the Hartman Group, "Diners Changing Behaviors," explored what’s most important to people when it comes to food and beverage. We’ve adapted some main points for the meetings landscape to explore what’s important to attendees.

Remember these three points when planning food and beverage for events:

1번: Attendees are concerned with quality.

Increasingly, attendees want to experience products that have a story, and they want to know the source of what they’re eating and drinking. The research notes that consumers desire more “real” food, which means attendees will be seeking fresh, local and authentic options.

More than ever, attendees are focused on quality over quantity, which plays into the small bites trend that delivers smaller portions but bigger flavor profiles. And don’t rule out classic favorites (like macaroni and cheese and burgers), but put a modern spin on them by featuring local, quality ingredients that tell a story.

2번: Attendees assess value through enjoyable experiences.

If you want attendees to truly appreciate the food and beverages at a gathering, make them an integral part of the meeting experience.

  • Make offerings customizable: Attendees will revel in build-your-own salad or sandwich stations, as well as chef stations where they can tailor their order.
  • Offer snacks throughout the day: Place snacks in meeting rooms or feature unexpected items during a meeting break. The busy nature of meetings means that traditional mealtimes and social rules about what’s appropriate to eat and when are lost.
  • Use food to educate and entertain: According to the foodservice research, 65 percent of consumers appreciate the influence that other cultures are having on the American way of life, which presumably includes food. Consumers also like to learn about what they are eating and drinking. Use culinary offerings, chef demonstrations and wine tastings to engage attendees, as well as teach them something they didn’t know before.


3번: Attendees seek out healthier options.

Did you know that 85 percent of consumers agree that good health, not money, is the No. 1 contributor to personal success? In addition, 70 percent of consumers actively take steps to improve their health, so it should come as no surprise that your attendees will be seeking out healthier options.

The research found that vegetables are increasingly moving from side options to taking over the plate. And attendees want even snack options to be healthy.

But not everyone is eating healthily just to eat healthily, so don’t skimp on taste! The research found that while 50 percent of consumers report eating healthily regularly, only 62 percent of those do so if the food tastes good.

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