By Reno Macri, founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions
If you are hosting an event, catering is arguably more important than ever before. After all, millennials, who are the dominant generation in today’s workforce, go out to eat more often than previous generations, including Baby Boomers and Generation X. Meanwhile, social media platforms are dominated by photographs of food, to the point where food is actually the single most photographed topic on Instagram.
This modern-day familiarity with food from all around the world makes it essential for an event company to make the right catering decisions, but also makes it more challenging to impress people. To help out, this article will look at some of the top food trends you should know about in order to serve food and drinks at your events.
For designers and professional exhibition stand builders, one of the key challenges posed by events is actually attracting the attention of passers-by, and food is having a major influence in this area. In particular, there is a growing trend for food displays and other more creative uses of food for decorative purposes.
This trend is especially useful for brands offering products related to food and drink, although other businesses can take advantage too. Creating memorable displays, signs or even food sculptures not only helps to attract an audience, it can also increase social media shares, expanding the entire reach of an event.
“Food walls, another Instagram-friendly trend, will be appearing all over,” says Nora Kistler, in an article written for Smart Meetings. “Eatertainment recently offered a rosy ombre macaron peg wall, with vanilla, rose, cotton candy, grapefruit cayenne and Peruvian chocolate flavours.”
When catering events, most businesses are aware of the need to provide vegetarian options. However, there is a growing demand for vegan options too. Indeed, studies show that a growing number of people in the United Kingdom are either vegan, attempt vegan diets at certain times, or are trying to reduce meat and dairy consumption.
It is estimated that the number of vegans in the United Kingdom increased from 150,000 in 2006 to 542,000 in 2016; a trend which has been helped by growing numbers of vegan celebrities and the annual ‘Veganuary’ event. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of all evening meals in the UK in 2018 include no meat or fish, according to research carried out by Kantar Worldpanel, with this number increasing year on year since 2014.
Going the extra mile with your catering efforts can help you to stand out from the pack and attract visitors, especially at exhibitions or multi-business events, where the other brands may not do this. At the same time, it offers businesses a unique chance to promote their own focus on sustainability and environmental consciousness.
Generally, an event company wants to provide attendees with a memorable experience, which is why they work with professional designers, exhibition stand builders and other experts to create exciting and engaging stands and booths. It is this desire to create memorable experiences that has led to the rise of ‘experiential catering’.
A good example of one of these food experiences is the inclusion of cooking classes as part of the event, allowing attendees to actively participate in preparing the food they eat, while learning something at the same time. Alternatively, another option is to allow attendees to watch the food being cooked professionally, at their table.
Ultimately, regardless of the precise experiential catering option you choose, the aim is to turn the catering part of an event into something that attendees will enjoy, remember, talk to other people about and share. The key is to try and choose a catering experience that says something about your brand and its core values as well.
Finally, it is quite likely that many of the attendees at your event will be travelling from outside of the local area. In fact, business travel expenditure in the United Kingdom grew considerably between 2010 and 2016, according to Statista, partly because there is such an increased willingness to travel for important or interesting events.
For marketers, event companies and exhibiting businesses, it is important that efforts are made to make the journey worthwhile and one of the best ways to do this is to provide people with the chance to sample local food and drink as part of the event. For this reason, your catering efforts should have a local element wherever possible.
“Destination-specific food is a huge trend,” says David Abers, writing for ITA Group. “After your event turns the lights off for the evening, your attendees will want to go out for a drink or two. Beer and wine from nearby microbreweries and vintners are [also] a must to give your people a truly local indulgence.”
The Final Word
Serving food and drink at your events is more important than ever before, but attendees’ expectations have also grown over recent years. By following the above trends, you should be able to provide the kind of memorable experience they crave, cater for different dietary requirements and inject a local flavour into the event.
Reno Macri is a founder and director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in event branding, event production, exhibition stand design, exhibition services in London and much more. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.