Prevue asked Briget Nelson, CMP/CMM, Director of Meetings & Event Marketing, NFP, FICP Planner Member, her thoughts on F&B trends.
Q: How important is it for you to incorporate local cuisine into a program?
A: We use local cuisine whenever possible to help create unique and memorable experiences for the guests, and it’s a great way to give back to the local community.
Q: How are dinearounds evolving with your programs?
A: We’re experimenting with new ideas to replace or complement traditional dinearounds. For smaller groups, we’ve had success with a unique table setting utilizing 6-ft tables that are set in an X shape instead of standard rounds. This gives groups the opportunity to have closer, more personal interaction. For larger groups, we’ve sectioned off the ballroom and given each vendor/sponsor a themed networking area with their own bar and food stations. When we do traditional dinearounds, we book locally owned restaurants instead of chains. We order off the menu instead of using set menus, and we make the groups small enough to really get to know each other.
Q: How is the gala dinner group experience evolving?
A: We continue to keep the gala dinner the wow factor of the event even with decreased budgets. I try to create the event that appeals to the senses in a creative way and relates to the area we are in. While in Costa Rica, we brought the rainforest into a ballroom with live plants, sounds of rain and rainforest animals. It was a huge hit because it really felt like we were dining in the rainforest.
Q: Are you adding interactive components?
A: We’re adding interactive components as much as possible and relate the interaction to the type of meeting and audience. At a recent reception we had a chef’s station with only local cheeses, fruits and honey. The group appreciated the education and personal interaction from the chef.
Q: What’s the most spectacular themed F&B event you’ve organized in the last year?
A: We hosted an event in Napa in a private estate home. The owners were both chefs with a kitchen large enough for our entire group to cook dinner. Small groups prepared different courses, and then we turned the estate’s living room into a dining room. It created an environment that felt like a family dinner.