IACC-Re-imagining Conference Lunches

IACC GUIDE TO RE-IMAGINING c CONFERENCE LUNCH BREAKS

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Publication: March 2021

IACCmeetings.com

INDEX Join IACC Online Educational Sessions on Demand ............................................................... 3 Summary ................................................................. 4 Advance Information Exchange .............................. 5 Expected Changes to Restaurant Service . ............. 9 Extending Service to Other Areas of the Venue ... 12 Food Waste Wrapping Considerations . ................ 18 Financial Modelling of New Solutions .................. 19

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Join IACC Online Educational Sessions on Demand

IACC Shorts Reimagining the Conference Lunch

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

SUMMARY

In this guide, IACC explored the likely impact to venue operations as it relates to lunch service for smaller conferences, meetings and training events, as IACC members are the first to welcome back regional and national events. A global task force of IACC F&B experts, formed over 2020 to address the evolving culinary offer for events, they share experiences from re-opening and hosting business events. This guide highlights some of the likely trends and adaptations that should be considered. IACC appreciates that COVID-19 has not been determined a food-borne illness; rather we hope to be a resource for enhanced protocols related to food and beverage service since the IACC food and and beverage experience remains such an incredible catalyst for networking, idea sharing and delivering a exceptional meeting experience for attendees.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Advance Information Exchange

DELIVERING REASSURANCE Information needs to flow two ways, to the venue and from the venue to our attendees, through the meeting organizer. Key information the venue needs to convey,

relates to providing reassurance that they are in safe hands and measures that are in place for sanitation measures that are in place, such as sanitation procedures. In addition, any changes that are to be considered as it relates to service. This is especially true for groups returning to a venue, who had a different experience previously. It is also important for the venue to set out expectations as they relate to required attendee behaviour, such as PPE wearing. Knowing in advance what is non-negotiable and or what a group may impose for their own attendees, that other groups may not require, is important. People will want to understand why one group is adhering to one set of measures, whilst having line of sight to another group behaving differently. It is not as a simple as asking all groups in your venue to adopt a single set of procedures, as it has been seen that some groups seek standards more stringent than legislation specifies.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

BRIEFINGS ON ARRIVAL An ideal time to share information with attendees, is on arrival to the venue on day 1. Much like the fire drill presentation of the past, a short group presentation can be very useful in setting out key information. CHANGES TO THE SALES PROCESS The information required by the venue, from the sales or conferencing planning department is different today, to the past. For the reasons set out under the reassurance section, venue teams will need to get a good understanding of how the client wishes to manage their event and attendees. In addition, it is now the responsibility of the venue to match these needs, with the appropriate lunch (and breaks) service type. Different service approaches result in different interaction between attendees and staff. A savvy venue will set these out for their client.

IACC venues have access to a strong line up of sales related learning and educational sessions online.

Download the sister guide to re-imagining refreshment breaks at IACCmeetings.com

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

ADVANCE ORDERING The concept of attendees of meetings making choices in advance and the potential for these choices to be shared with the venue via a technology platform or app is an interesting one. It led the task force to address the question as to what technologies are available to take individual orders in advance. We know that large scale event venues such as sporting stadiums have now mastered the art of advance ordering for intervals and this has led to efficiencies in service and reduced food waste. ConciergeHub based out of the UK claim they are changing the way guests interact with hotels, conference centres and venues through a suite of contactless guest services. Using a cloud-based, app-less solution that is loaded onto the attendees phone via QR code, Wi-Fi, email, links or through social channels, they can reach

people quickly, easily and in a smarter, more cost effective way.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

ConciergeHub can support venues worldwide, in multi-language/multi-currency formats, delivering the ability to allow attendees to live order their F&B on the day, during their meetings and conferences, or via a pre-order link which can be shared before arrival. The UK specialist also offers features such as live chat, allowing two way conversation between venue and attendee. IACC is excited to see serious steps made in developing sophisticated solutions for managing the food needs of meeting attendees in more direct and accurate ways. Maybe resulting in never needing to ask a meeting organiser to choose for their attendees in the future?

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Expected Changes to Restaurant Service

REEVALUATING PERCENTAGES Until 2020, many IACC venues operated the majority of lunch service, from a centralised restaurant, with service outside of these spaces often representing less than 15% of the total attendee service on any given day. They were nearly always operating a self-serve buffet and/or carvery style service. 2021 and 2022 may see these percentages reversed and IACC venues are arguably well placed to embrace this and provide cross-property multiple lunch areas. Where restaurants

are being reconfigured to separate groups, it is worth considering the importance of separating entrances and exits for attendees as part of the redesign.

Olive Restaurant at Wyboston Lakes, United Kingdom

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

LUNCH SERVICE TYPES ◆ Self-serve buffet (preferred by some bubble groups such as sports teams). ◆ Staff served buffet ◆ Time slot allocated to provide privacy ◆ Packaged lunch box ◆ Private chef prepared food ◆ Self-serve mini stations (by food type) ◆ Plated and table served

In Scandinavia where venues did not close, manuals have been developed, to share with organisers, which have been well received.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Venues should consider the impact of attendees wanting feeding in their bubble groups until at least 2022 and possibly this developing into a longer-term trend as cross-group service is avoided. One approach to maintaining relevance to a central large dining room, close to kitchens, is to section these spaces off, to allow groups to remain private from other groups. Considerations when doing this, include entrances and HVAC systems as they relate to serving each designated area.

MENU REDESIGN It may be necessary for menus to be reviewed and redesigned, given changes in service approach. Some menu items better suit a specific service style than others.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Extending Service to Other Areas of the Venue “If our mass service restaurants are not the solution, how do we develop other spaces to take the strain?” It is felt that taking lunch to the people will be a theme for the next 18-months at least and therefore the development of spaces, in line with the development of service approaches will put those venues who embrace this, at a competitive advantage. MEETING ROOM SERVICE Previously frowned upon service in meeting and conference rooms, is now a serious option for groups as venues need to offer bubbles to avoid cross group contamination risks. Past reluctance translates into most meeting rooms not having stations and utilities such as water and higher voltage electricity built in. Venues will need to carefully weigh up the cost/benefits over the next 2 years, as it relates to investing. In addition, venues who deliver more food and beverage solutions, inside of meeting rooms, will need to resource accordingly, for efficient removal of items after breaks, so as not to leave leftover food items laying around in learning environments. Staff will need to be trained on the discrete break down of station areas.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Some IACC venues operating through 2020, have developed in meeting room stations and one developed these using recycled materials only, to ensure their environmental footprint was protected.

Bautahoj in Denmark, created this in-meeting room break station using repurposed materials.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

EXCLUSIVE PERSONAL SERVICE The development of an enhanced service at a higher price point may be a consideration that is a serious option for venue clients in 2021. A privately prepared (or at least finished and presented) lunch, from a dedicated chef and service team could be the perfect marriage of risk management and providing a true wow factor experience. On one or more occasion, groups returning to venues have requested even more remote service, asking venue staff not to be present during lunch and specifying that their attendees scrape and stack plates when finished, to reduce the need for venue staff to be present.

In keeping with the need to deliver exceptional meeting experiences in the future, at least for the short term, while business levels remain subdued, the concept of allocating service staff to each group, including perhaps their own chef, was highlighted.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Where we offer a higher value point, the opportunity to price accordingly comes about. In challenging situations, creativity moves faster during these times. It was felt that cost is a factor and IACC venues are always adept at managing cost changes as needed, short or long term. Pricing will adjust and greater options can be presented to clients. FOOD PRESENTATION IACC F&B professionals stated a preference for having control over the compilation of break boxes, with the view that they can create better (more balanced) content, variety and far better presentation for their attendees, to levels not possible when attendees serve themselves.

Chateauform’ in Europe undertook professional photography for new service styles, to underpin the quality and presentation.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Creative individual wrapping also allows for the element of surprise for attendees, when they open their box to review the contents. To a point where we may deliberately withhold the contents until opened. Maintaining experiences for attendees is deeded important and IACC experts believe this is an excellent vehicle to delivering this through intentional design and is grounded in a culinary practice.

DIFFERENT SERVE SAFE FOOD WRAPPING SOLUTIONS

Environmentally friendly food wrapping and presentation remains important, avoiding single use plastics as much as is possible. US supplier Verterra highlights the importance of food colour to the overall presentation, as the overall appeal needs to be there compared with buffet plating previously.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Two different food wrapping solutions for safe service, manufactured by US producer Verterra.

Supply chain issues have arisen in terms of availability of ecofriendly food packaging, throughout 2020, although the concerns for the future supply of eco-products are not considered to be significant, it is a call to suppliers to develop packaging solutions which help elevate the creative and attractive needs highlighted by experts.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Food Waste Wrapping Considerations

Venue operators should consider the individual wrapping of food items as it relates to food waste, when compared to alternative solutions such as buffets. There is the risk that some food contents, when not selected by the attendee, may not be consumed. It is therefore a good idea to not select contents or ingredients which are not widely accepted.

The overall effect of portioning and packaging though, results in lower food waste as attendees do not overload plates. The messaging to meeting planners who are seeking confidence that their event is not having a negative impact on the environment, should be one of

aligning this service style with these goals. It is important to note that packaging should be biodegradable and utensils either metal or non-single use plastic composition. We see greater use of tamper resistant bags and since the bags and boxes are closed, it is important to clearly display the contents so that people can choose the right one and reduce waste and looking inside.

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

Financial Modelling of New Solutions

Many of these new solutions that venues are developing, require more staff or greater investment by the venue. Often both! At this time, many venues are putting in place creative solutions and not addressing the increased cost, by raising prices with their clients. One such addition of a COVID-19 surcharge by a IACC member was resoundingly voted down by clients and was not considered a reasonable approach. As we consider that measures and bespoke dining solutions may well be with us for the mid-term at least, venues should consider plans for charging for enhanced experiences. Some changes to the service style, can be considered an upgrade for the attendee and might be priced and marketed accordingly. It will be a careful balance and the marketing of these carefully may be the answer and our businesses need to be viable long term. The continuity of our brand is at stake and we need to protect the value proposition.

IACC members share ideas for the collective benefit of the global community. Are you ready to be a IACC certified venue?

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

STAFFING SURCHARGES The global task force cited staffing surcharges as a perhaps more palatable way to charge for services. If a private chef is offered, charge an hourly fee for this highly visible enhancement. CONSIDERING THE ENVIRONMENT The realisation that introducing PPE and bespoke food packaging is having a huge impact on the environment and it is considered a shame that after huge efforts to reduce plastics at events, appears to be undone. Juice dispensers reverting back to plastic bottles, is just one example. However, there are steps that venues can take today to try and keep the impact to a minimum. In addition, it is always important to remember that sustainability considerations go beyond plastic. It is also important to consider the food and beverage choices themselves, portion sizes, and food waste minimisation strategies. #SHITTYVIRUS – SHORT-LIVED NECESSARY EVIL One IACC member felt it important to relay to their clients, that they continue to care about the impact to the environment and through careful marketing under the banner of #ShittyVirus, they created messages throughout the venue that reinforced a commitment long term to reduce single use plastics. Let’s communicate this is temporary!

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

TASK FORCE CONTRIBUTORS Sean Anderson , VP Operations, Sodexo Conferencing Brian Stapleton , VP Food & Beverage, Aramark – USA Louise Hallquist , Head Chef, Sigtunahöjden – Sweden Murray Hall , Executive Chef, Dolce Hotels & Resorts – Canada Jamian Lewis , Executive Chef, CCT Venues – UK Patrick Berwald , VP Food & Beverage, Benchmark Hospitality – USA Jakob Buus , Director, Bauthoj – Denmark Tom Cupo , Managing Director, The Inn at Virginia Tech - USA Jim Berman , Executive Chef, Sodexo Conferencing - USA

SUPPORTING ORGANISATIONS

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IACCmeetings.com: A guide to re-imagining conference lunch breaks

IACCmeetings.com: Exclusive Meeting Venues, by Design Dedicated to designing and manufacturing products to aid in upportin social distancing Interested in becoming a IACC Certified Venue, visit: IACCmeetings.com IACC represents the top 1% of business event venues. 400 venues in 26 countries around the globe.

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