The International Association of Conference Centers found in a recent study that venues around the globe are changing the way they approach attendee well-being, with the vast majority taking strides to make meetings and events healthier for those involved.
For the survey, venue officials were asked a series of questions regarding health choices available to delegates through menus and types of event spaces. The results reveal nutrition and well-being are high priorities for delegates, and food that is perceived to improve mental clarity and concentration levels is growing in popularity.
Food service managers say they are receiving more requests for foods that are healthier overall, with greater attention being paid to calories, nutritional value, and mineral content. Researchers say that foods such as walnuts, avocados, quinoa, blueberries, spinach and kale are often referred to as “brain foods”, as they may have the potential to positively influence mental clarity, stress-relief and enhance energy distribution, and more event organizers are asking that these items be provided in breaks and at meals.
Given the emerging interest in nutritional values, the survey asked respondents, “Do you include basic nutritional information on your event breakfast, lunch and dinner menus?” Seventy-five percent said they do or plan to in the future. Additionally, 88 percent said they have made changes to their break menus based on health and wellness trends or feedback from clients.
Jessie States, (pictured right) CMM manager of professional development, Meeting Professionals International comments, “Meeting professionals are also increasingly asking for continuous food breaks to fuel their attendees. The nutritional needs of an audience are as diverse as the individuals who comprise it. And people need the food that fuels them at a variety of different times. As meeting planners look to take a personal approach to the onsite experiences of diverse audiences, food becomes a major player in the design of welcoming and inclusive experiences.”
Other popular requests that venue food service operators are bringing to attendees are more gluten-free options, free-range meat products, and items with ingredients that have been locally sourced. The study found that, for the most part, attendees are willing to pay more for items that meet these specific criteria. Venue managers say they are also increasingly providing things such as designated quiet areas and seating areas for networking in the interest of addressing the needs of attendees while at events.
A full copy of the survey report is available for download at www.iacconline.worldsecuresystems.com/iacc-nutrition-trends.