Satisfy Special Requests Easily with These Suggestions

Vegetarian. Gluten-Free. Paleo. Kosher. These are just some of the requirements and/or requests event planners are hearing from today’s attendees. A lot of pressure on you and the chef…right?

Fortunately, with good planning and collaboration with venue staff, you’ll be able to put together the right food for the right attendee at the right time — without suffering from major budget overruns.

Food for Event

Eight Ways to Meet Attendees Where They Are

According to CWT Meetings & Events, 25% of the average meeting budget is spent on food and beverage. However, experienced event planners who have catered to specialty food requests find there are increased costs associated with this demand. In order to stretch your budget dollars and give guests what they are craving, follow these tips:

  1. Survey attendees about dietary needs and requests.
    Do this when they register, when you confirm their attendance and when they walk through the convention doors. Know as much about each attendee’s food palette as they will disclose and whether it’s a must have (i.e. food allergy) or nice to have (diet restriction). In the case of food allergies, ask the venue staff how they handle them to ensure no cross-food contamination.
  2. Work with the catering manager to research local sourcing options.
    Some attendees want ingredients to come from local farms and also want to know how the animals were fed or treated. It also may be more cost efficient to source locally for special requests or small orders.
  3. If you have several special requests, stay away from the buffet.
    Buffets can be a cost-effective alternative to feed the masses, but not great if you have multiple requests for different food choices. In the case of just a few changes, offer plated alternatives that look much like what the rest of the group is eating.
  4. When you have the menu finalized, put it on your event website.
    Sharing the menu several days before your meeting will help offset questions, identify oversights and reduce anxiety among attendees. In the case of inquiries beyond your knowledge, put them in touch with the catering manager or chef.
  5. Make sure little goes to waste.
    Attendees want to know where unused food goes. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 150,000 tons of food is tossed out every day – the equivalent of about one-third of the daily calories that each American consumes. Planners can eliminate waste in three ways:

    • Ensure you have the right headcount for every meal
    • Meet with kitchen staff to determine if locally sourced food and beverages providers will take back unopened or unused items
    • Have a plan to give away excess food to a non-profit. Make sure it complies with local health department regulations
  6. Five days before your conference, review all meals with the banquet captain.
    You can convey any changes to your RSVP list or grab missed menu items with minimal budget impact when it’s completed this far in advance.
  7. Upon check-in, give attendees a card or wristband that will delineate what they want for each meal.
    This reduces mix-ups and makes sure attendees get the food they ordered and can avoid foods they can’t eat in the case of food allergies.
  8. Presentation, presentation, presentation.
    Millennials are true foodies and like to snap photos of what they eat. They will post it on Instagram, so make sure the venue’s delivery is social media worthy.


Kalahari is Here to Help with Menu Planning

We gladly collaborate with you and your staff to provide enjoyable food options for every meal. From casual to elegant dining, our catering managers gives great care and attention to attendee food requests. Call our sales team at 855.411.4605 to schedule your site visit today!