IACC today released its Trends in Nutrition & Delegate Well-being survey report.
The survey asked venue respondents a series of questions regarding health choices available to delegates through menus and types of event spaces. The results reveal nutrition and well-being are high priorities for delegates, and food that improves mental clarity and concentration levels is growing in popularity.
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, foods such as walnuts, avocados, quinoa, blueberries, spinach and kale often are referred to as “brain foods,” as they may have the potential to positively influence mental clarity, stress-relief and enhance energy distribution.
Some 38 percent of venues said they already offer specific “brain foods” on their menus.
IACC’s CEO, Mark Cooper, comments: “Earlier this year, our Meeting Room of the Future research revealed that brain food is important to delegates. Now, through this new research report on delegate nutrition and well-being, 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, “Do you include basic nutritional information on your event breakfast, lunch and dinner menus?” 75 percent either said they do or plan to in the future. Additionally, 88 percent 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 comments, “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 percent 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, asking: “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 percent of responders who are operators of IACC venues said “Yes” and their comments confirmed 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 prefunction 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, Mark 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.”
With a total of 24 questions, IACC’s Trends in Nutrition & Delegate Well-being survey report provides many valuable insights into this critical topic for the meeting and events industry. The full report can be downloaded here.