When we are in our routines and doing the things we always do, it can sometimes be difficult to think about how or why to do things differently.
But the world of live events has been anything but routine for the past 2 years and many of us have had the time and mental space to re-evaluate the things we do. People are leaving their jobs in record numbers for a better quality of life. People have relocated because they discovered they can do their job from anywhere. Many social circles have gotten smaller, as people have made careful decisions about who they choose to spend their time with. Many of us are more intentional in everything we do and looking for meaningful experiences.
This re-prioritization of our lives is visible as live events are coming back and we are seeing that different things matter to attendees. Health and safety policies are an obvious example; in 2019, it was exceedingly rare for anyone to ask about a safety policy. Today, safety plans are front and center in event communications. Room setups are another obvious example. As soon as we all first heard the words “social distancing” in 2020, we knew that room setups would change dramatically.
One area of change that has been somewhat surprising is in food and beverage for events. To be clear, the changes in service that happened as a result of health and safety concerns are not all that surprising. It is the change in what is being served that has changed.
There are differences in how many people are eating that were either purposely made (“I have time to plan healthy meals now so I’m going change the foods I eat”), forced upon them (“I’m no longer traveling and eating out for every meal so I have to learn how to cook now”), or chosen for economic reasons (“have you seen the price of chicken lately?! At least I can still afford salad.”)
With the return of live events, we are seeing a trend where attendees want healthier meal options and a wider variety of plant-based options. I’ve been in this business for a long time and for most of that time, I wouldn’t have dared to present a mostly plant-based menu to a client. But a shift is happening and I willingly present them for 2 reasons: first, venues have also had time to think about doing things differently and they are presenting fantastically creative options; and second, clients are expecting a presentation of healthier options.
What’s your take on this? For my venue friends, are you offering more plant-based menus and if so, what’s driving this? For planners, are you offering healthier menu options and if so, why?