food ice

Meeting planners will have a hard time getting away with the standard chicken dinner for their conferences this year. Today’s attendees want more diversity, and more importantly, they want to know where their food comes from, how it was raised and how many chemicals are in it.

This means while you’re on a site visit, it’s imperative you spend more time with the head chef and banquet manager going over your conference menus and making sure they align with attendee preferences.

To give you a head start, Baum + Whiteman recently published its annual hospitality predictions. Below is a summary of the findings and what both planners and hoteliers can glean from them.


Hot Trends

Drone Drops

drone drop

There is a lot of experimentation in this arena by big players such as Chipotle, Domino’s and 7-Eleven to deliver food to you via a drone.

This can play in the meeting space, as well. The kitchen can receive each attendee’s order electronically and send a drone to deliver it. I cannot see this becoming a trend for large events, but it’s something to be considered for meetings under 20.

Vegetable-Centric Meals


Rather than having the vegetable as a side dish, more and more chefs are making vegetables the main course. How the meal is being served is also changing. Veggie bowls are becoming more popular because they’re neater and much more portable than a plate, especially for casual meals.

In addition, Baum + Whiteman found that 26 percent of Americans are eating less meat than they did in 2015, thus giving way for vegetarian and vegan diets to go mainstream. More and more chefs are creating imitation burgers, sausages and meatballs that look like meat but actually come from plant sources.

Clean Labels


This trend includes:

  • Fewer ingredients
  • Little or no processed food
  • Pasture-raised meat
  • Free-range chicken
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Organic, non-GMO food
  • Locally sourced wine and craft beers

Like I said before, attendees not only want good food, they also want to know where their food came from and how it will be prepared.

Better Breakfast Options

bfast taco

The trend offers creative breakfast sandwiches that are packed with flavor and are wrapped and ready to pick up when the attendees go into their morning sessions. Here are three popular options:

  • Fried eggwich with jack cheese, avocado and crab
  • Taco with two fried eggs, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, potatoes and black beans
  • Braised pork shoulder and egg sandwich with ricotta salata and apple ketchup

Ice Cream


Ice cream is in; frozen yogurt is out.

Two types of ice cream dishes are becoming popular: a freakshake, which is a freestyle milkshake with ice cream, sauce, cake, cookies and various candies available in a self-serve format. The other is ice cream roll-ups, which are frozen, thin layers of ice cream rolled up into tiny cylinders that are put into a cup when served.

Portable Snack Foods

food snacks

Healthy options such as seasonal fruit, nuts and water are good options as attendees look to move between education or networking sessions.


Kalahari Completes Every Event With Delicious Food

At Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, we know that delicious food is an important component to any successful meeting. Whether planning for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can count on our team for an incredible dining experience that follows many of the trends listed above.

From casual to elegant, catered events are always met with great care and attentiveness. Give our sales team a call at 855.411.4605 to schedule your site visit today!