Delegate health at events growing in priority: IACC survey

IACC has released its Trends in Nutrition & Delegate Wellbeing survey report, and results reveal that nutrition and well-being are high priorities for delegates – hence food that improves mental clarity and concentration levels is growing in popularity.

The survey asked venue respondents a series of 24 questions regarding health choices available to delegates through menus and types of event spaces.

Brain food is becoming more prevalent at event menus

The results are as follows:

Brain foods on the rise
According to the report, venues are receiving more requests for foods that go beyond nutritional density. Delegates are demanding foods that deliver superior well-being benefits through increased nutrient or mineral content.

For example, food such as walnuts, avocados, quinoa, blueberries, spinach and kale are often referred to as “brain food”, as they may have the potential to positively influence mental clarity, stress-relief and enhance energy distribution.

Some 38 per cent of venues said they already offer specific “brain food” on their menus.

IACC’s CEO, Mark Cooper, commented: “Earlier this year, our Meeting Room of the Future research revealed that brain food is important to delegates. Now, through this new research report, we see the opportunity to help with delegate alertness and attention is being taken seriously by an increasing number of venues.”

Healthy changes to break menus
When asked if basic nutritional information on event menus, 75 per cent either said they do or plan to in the future. Additionally, 88 per cent said they have made changes to their break menus based on health and wellness trends or feedback from clients.

Jessie States, CMM manager of professional development, Meeting Professionals International, said: “Meeting professionals are also increasingly asking for continuous food breaks to fuel their attendees. The nutritional needs of an audience are as diverse as the individuals who comprise it. And people need the food that fuels them at a variety of different times. As meeting planners look to take a personal approach to the onsite experiences of diverse audiences, food becomes a major player in the design of welcoming and inclusive experiences.”

Gluten-free a standard menu choice
When asked which food requests they receive more now than two years ago, 100 per cent of respondents answered with gluten-free. Many commented that gluten-free has joined vegetarian as a standard menu choice.

Communal areas are sanctuaries
The survey considered event spaces in relation to delegate health and asked: Does your property consider delegate health and well-being when making design decisions such as creating communal interaction areas or public spaces that offer quiet reflection?

To this question, 100 per cent of responders who are operators of IACC venues said ‘Yes’ and their comments confirmed that space outside the rooms is being taken into consideration.

One responder said: “We just completed a renovation of our public meetings space and this was a big consideration that led to a redesign of the pre-function space to better accommodate peoples’ ability to stay connected and have more private space to break away from the crowd for quiet.”

Appreciating that networking and relationship building opportunities mean spaces outside of the meeting room are critical to event success, Cooper suggested: “The focus is no longer only on the main room, so meeting planners should include details and dimensions of outside the room spaces in proposals and venue specifications.”

The full survey can be downloaded here.

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