Most conference planners want to plug their attendees into the vibe of the city they’re in, but when planning around a jam-packed education schedule, it can be a challenge to find the time. One tried-and-true solution is the dine-around: Send small groups to different restaurants around the city, to allow attendees to engage with their surroundings and taste what the locals eat.

Recently, a dizzying number of tech startups have pushed this one step further, offering visitors a chance to eat in the homes of locals. This gives visitors the opportunity to learn, over the course of a few hours, more about the flavor of the city than they could get from any traditional tour.

Some, such as Meal Sharing ( and BonAppetour (, connect visitors with locals who are not all professional chefs. This makes the experience more affordable, but it may be too much of a gamble for an event planner. Others use only vetted chefs, which I’d recommend. Here are three of the most promising for event planners:

Feastly ( is a San Francisco-based service that connects diners with private chef-organized meals and pop-up restaurants. All the chefs are thoroughly vetted, and the company provides insurance in case something goes wrong. Feastly also plans corporate events in chefs’ homes, making it easy to incorporate their service into your convention.

EatWith (, also based in San Francisco, works similarly to Feastly, and has an event planning service too. For groups that can’t fit within a chef’s home, the company has access to private dining spaces with greater capacity.

VizEat ( is based in Paris; though the company doesn’t advertise its ability to work with event planners, it does include many chefs among its hosts and may be a better choice for planning dine-arounds in Europe.

While dine-arounds may not be new, it is a great way to connect locale with visitors for a genuine and authentic experience. As we know by now, culture is just as much a part of the dining experience, so dine-arounds are a wonderful way to help your guests immerse themselves in memorable experiences.