Once upon a time, planners could safely divide attendees into just two dining groups: carnivores and herbivores. Those days are gone. Thanks to contemporary dietary restrictions, planning the menu for a modern-day meeting is like putting together a puzzle -- and there are more pieces than ever: vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, paleo diners, people with nut allergies or those who avoid gluten... The list goes on and on.
To make menu planning easier for meeting professionals, IACC has published a new “Guide to Managing Conference Delegate Dietary Requirements,” the association has announced.
Produced in partnership with Meeting Professionals International and the World Obesity Foundation, the new guide is designed to help planners establish, manage and maintain productive partnerships with venues when it comes to dietary restrictions, for the purpose of jointly promoting attendee health and well-being. Along with an explanation of common allergens and emerging diets, including dietary requirements that are religious in nature, it includes tips for how to prioritize attendees’ health and wellness without compromising event quality.
When one considers the serious nature of many food allergies and restrictions, the guide isn’t just useful; potentially, it’s also lifesaving.
Consider, for instance, one of IACC’s research findings as reported in the guide: Although planners and venues are receiving more dietary requests today than they did two years ago, only 75 percent of venues say they offer training to staff on how to serve people with allergies, and only 33 percent of venues say they include basic nutritional information on their menus.
"As we conducted more research, we saw clearly that there was some valuable insights and best practices that, if adopted, would help both our planner and venue community," said IACC CEO Mark Cooper. "This is just the beginning, and we hope that in the near future we will see more training and certifications to support the competent management of dietary needs."
Added Anna Hess, IACC Americas Board associate and guide project leader, “It is vital that we embrace the concept of understanding and managing delegate dietary requirements effectively. There is so much we can do both as planners and venues to make this a totally manageable process and reduce the risks of getting something wrong.”
IACC’s “Guide to Managing Conference Delegate Dietary Requirements” is available for complimentary download from IACC’s website.