When thinking about resolutions for event planners, we are probably just like anyone else in a lot of ways. We want to be healthy, happy, and finally finish that book we’ve had bookmarked on the nightstand. But professionally, there’s a lot we can do, and I’ve got a few manageable suggestions for anyone looking for a few meeting and event commitments to be more inclusive in 2018.
Embrace New Technologies
There are plenty of ways to do this. We can implement a new event planning software. We can manage our to-do list with a new app. We can experiment with bringing virtual reality into our conferences. Some are already using drone cameras for promotion and documentation. Augmented reality layering onto our event isn’t new, but something that isn’t utilized as much as it could be.
When it comes to tech and dietary restrictions, I would love to point out that there are a growing number of apps and technologies that will ensure the safety of attendees as well as the liability of yourself and your staff. Nima, for example, is a portable gluten or peanut tester that allows consumers with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or peanut allergy, to make sure their food is safe before taking a bite. Pick one of these up for the kitchen so staff can test dishes before heading to the floor. Or test questionable ingredients before cooking with them, so there’s no potentially deadly mix up between peanut oil and the rest.
Run More Inclusive Events
A lot of us want to run “better” events, more “creative” events, or more “engaging” events. That’s important too! But when I think about resolutions for event planners, I suggest committing to more inclusive events. Just a few ways to do this that you might already be doing or could do better:
[list icon=”icon: check-square-o” icon_color=”#d81c5c”]
- Increasingly, dietary restrictions are built into our event menus and food choices. Commit to hiring a menu management professional, whether as a consultant to help with questions as they come up or as a hands-on expert. Either way, you’ll be ensuring the safety and satisfaction of your attendees.
- Labels are becoming increasingly important. Label everything. Label foods that don’t come with labels, like those cookies on the food cart and pizza straight out of the oven. Add icons to table menus to save attendees the trouble of asking about each option. And add buffet menus that will provide meaningful direction for your guests. Talk to me about buffet labels.
- Add Meal Tickets to event mealtime to ensure a comfortable, discreet, and safe communication process is available and facilitated between attendees and servers. These cards can be added to onsite registration and welcome packets. And they can easily pass between the guest and the server during mealtime, so communication is streamlined and discreet.
- Train staff and servers to not only understand whether something is gluten free, for example, but to understand the cross-contact and handling best practices to keep meals safe for everyone in attendance. I train food service employees all the time with the certified ServeSafe Food Handler Workshop.
Improve the registration process
There are so many ways to tweak registration so everyone gets as much out of it as possible. One of the best ways I have to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests while also saving our bottom line is to make sure I ask about dietary restrictions in advance.
If you manage the menu to accommodate dietary restrictions from the very beginning, you’ll actually save money. You’ll be able to minimize waste because people will actually be able to eat and enjoy the food provided. You’ll minimize overspending because the people who paid for their meal will actually be looking forward to it, rather than being concerned about safety and choosing to go to a restaurant instead. Most importantly, you’ll be able to meet the needs of attendees and create a memorable engaging event, rather than setting up a lack of confidence that will send groups of people to other venues.
If you’re looking for ways to set-up a friendly registration survey that will help you really get to know what you need on your menu, feel free to set-up a consult with me. I’m happy to answer questions, provide some free resources, and I can create meaningful solutions for you.
Improve the feedback process
Feedback is key. It’s the only action that makes the communication process complete. In conversations, it’s the step for listening and adapting. In event and menu management, it’s the only way to be able to run better, more creative, more engaging, and most importantly, more inclusive events.
Be sure to include survey questions that address dietary restrictions and how they were handled. Was the process safe, comfortable, and discreet? Was the food tasty as well as nutritious? There are important questions that can help you design better food and beverage options and processes. In the end, it will save you and your client money.
I’m happy to lend my expertise. Ask me about the right questions to ask and how to phrase them. What shouldn’t be left out and how can you answer negative feedback to maximize a positive outcome? What are some of the adjustments you can make, based on the feedback, that may seem impossible to reconcile? There are actionable answers, and they may surprise you. Set up a consult or hire me to help.
Resolutions for Event Planners
Do you have any resolutions for event planners that might help us to be more inclusive and design an experience around dietary restrictions? Here’s a quick summary of my suggestions:
[list icon=”icon: check-square-o” icon_color=”#d81c5c”]
- Embrace new technologies, specifically for inclusion and the safety of those with dietary restrictions.
- Hire a menu management professional
- Label everything!
- Add Meal Tickets to streamline communication
- Train staff and servers to safely manage and handle all food
- Improve the registration process by asking about dietary restrictions ahead of time
- Improve future events by creating meaningful feedback solutions
I also welcome questions on social. There’s no doubt that others out there have the same questions as you. Whether asking about this article and resolutions for event planners, or just asking about dietary restrictions, tag me on twitter. I’ll do my best to help.