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Best Practices For Food & Beverage Planning At Conferences

Best Practices For Food & Beverage Planning At Conferences

In a world that increasingly frowns upon in-person events and gatherings, food and beverages remain the sole saving grace that still manage to bring people together. Whether it's a trade conference, a press meet, or an academic snoozefest, the F&B stations remain the centerpiece that gets conversations going, and networks building, apart from creating memorable experiences for the attendees.

Food and beverage expenses makeup a considerable chunk of the overall event budget, but extends far beyond just how much money is spent, with various aspects such as the theme, time, convenience, and practicality factoring into the equation. If you want to host a conference that gets talked about for at least weeks, or months to come, here are some tried-and-tested F&B practices to aid with your planning.

  1. Plan Around Your Event

While food is rarely an afterthought, it also isn’t the main course of a conference, which is often scheduled around a particular topic, for exchange of information. Ideally, your F&B stations, food choices, and serving, as well as the overall theme of the offerings should align with the core agenda.

For example, an open bar, or serving in-between proceedings only serves as a distraction, but during long drawn out proceedings, simple hor dourves remain perfect, to keep guests from going hungry, while also keeping them attentive.

There are a number of food and beverage tools for events that are aimed at planning, organizing, and executing precisely this. With the right estimations, tracking, and modeling, organizers can ensure a seamless flow with F&B that remains well aligned with the overall conference.

  1. Understand The Venue

The approach to service has to be decided based on the size, and nature of the venue. A centrally located bar or food station, in a small place can result in long queues and a visible distraction, however, a more dispersed approach can ensure a smooth flow of people, to and from the respective stations.

It goes without saying that the venue plays a critical role in this regard, but even in a small venue, effective, memorable, and efficient F&B plans can be executed with the right approach. For example, a stand-up, forks-only buffet works great in such confined spaces, provided the menu aligns perfectly.

  1. Select A Theme 

Nothing drills the message of a conference quite like a food and beverage menu that goes with the theme. It goes without saying, the menu should more than just fuel audiences for long-hours of lectures, it should be fun, interactive, and something to discuss about, and what better to discuss about than the subject-matter on hand.

A theme can take on many different forms, it can be geographical, for example, a conference for craft brewers can go all-in on providing indelible experiences with beers for attendees. Similarly, depending on the audience, a sustainable theme could involve reusable cutlery, along with vegan cuisine that matches with the preferences of attendees. 

  1. Elegance & Sophistication

For high-end events, the mandate off-late is Instagram-worthy foods, something that doesn’t just stay imprinted in the minds of attendees, but travels far and wide to spread the word of your event, through their social media accounts. 

An experienced caterer can even cater to such specifications, with creative and innovative options, such as mini cupcakes, themed cakes, decorated cut fruits, and more. This can be a combination of various current trends, with pop-culture references, and anything that gets the conversations going.

Final Words

While big in-person events are yet to regain their mojo after the pandemic-induced hiatus, there is no question regarding their post-pandemic future. Subtle aspects such as food, beverages, and ambience continue to be the allure that will keep the party going for years to come. With these best practices, and approaches, big conferences can still pull a large audience, and leave a reverberating impact on attendees that virtual events can never achieve.