Category Archives: Food and Beverage

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Meet Healthy for Attendees

There is a lot of talk in the industry about green meetings that are good for the environment. But how about healthy meetings that are good for your attendees?

Many meeting professionals are paying more attention to this area. They recognize that a little exercise is not only healthy for attendees, but also keeps them awake by oxygenating the brain as well as muscles.

Planners shared their best ideas for healthy meetings in the Stellar Tips section of ConventionPlanit.com.

Scott Ludwigsen with Phoenix Marketing International suggests scheduling a walk around the hotel/conference center into meeting breaks. “For those attendees that actually take the walk, reward them by handing out tickets at the far end of the building,” he says.

“Prior to the next health break, draw a ticket for a prize and you will see the number of walkers increase dramatically during each subsequent break. Net effect: people come back from their breaks ready to listen, look, and learn!”

Another exercise incentive suggested by Al Rickard of Association Vision is to have a quick scavenger hunt during breaks that forces people to walk around a certain area.

“Put attendees in teams of three or four so they can meet new people in the process,” he explains. “Give away some small prizes for completing it. Then set up a table with prizes displayed for those who complete the hunt and a big sign that says “Free Prizes.” Prizes can be small gift certificates for local shops, local trinkets, hotel certificates for a free massage at the spa, or a free breakfast.

Alicia Dahill with Oliver Wyman offers this idea for squeezing exercise into meetings: “Hire the hotel’s fitness trainer to come in for the first five minutes of your morning and afternoon break to provide attendees quick stretches and movement with the focus on things attendees can do in their own office. This will help attendees feel more energized and awake during the meeting, and they will appreciate your efforts to incorporate fitness into the meeting.”

Use your imagination to go beyond walking and stretching. For example, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) & The Center for Association Leadership placed stationary bikes in the main gathering area during its Annual Meeting in San Diego two years ago. Rickard also suggests making large exercise balls available.

Meeting attendees, presenters, exhibitors, meeting staff, and others also spend a lot of time standing or walking, especially at large meetings with trade shows.

Eleanor with Symantec Corporation recommends having acupressure foot masseuses on hand.

“Even 10-minute sessions can relieve feet tired of walking long distances to get to and from different meeting rooms, not to mention presenters who stand for hours doing their sessions,” she says. “Foot massages are also good to boost energy.”

There are also other novel approaches to staying healthier by relieving both the physical and mental stress of meetings. Sybil L. Simons with Group Travel Advisors recommends a program called “jokesercise.”

She explains, “’High-Powered Howard,’ a comedian and personal trainer, offers half an hour of exercise punctuated with comedy. Attendees will love it! My groups do.”

Of course, providing healthy alternatives to meeting attendees extends beyond what they can do with their bodies to what they can put intheir bodies.

“Keep your attendees hydrated and energized by providing a variety of unique soft drinks such as pomegranate-flavored soda, green apple iced tea, peach iced tea… something different in addition to water and coffee to add an unexpected gourmet twist to your meeting refreshments,” recommends Sharon Naylor with Sharon Naylor Wedding Books.

Kathleen Zwart with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida offers a tip with a double benefit — better health and a cost savings. “For an all-day meeting with lunch and an afternoon break, I hold back the dessert from the luncheon and serve it during the afternoon break,” she says.

“Your attendees aren’t tempted with two sweets in a short timeframe and you save money by not ordering a separate item for the break. You can include something non-sweet also, like fruit, nuts, or popcorn.”

For more advice that can help you in all areas of meeting planning, visit the Stellar Tips section of ConventionPlanit.com.

Save Time and Money on Food and Beverage

Meeting planners know better than anyone else how to cut food and beverage costs.

Here are some tips from the inside – advice shared by fellow meeting planners in the  “Stellar Tips” section of ConventionPlanit.com:

1.  Customize Menus

It’s no secret that food and beverage can be expensive.  Customizing menus can allow for greater variety, fresher ingredients, and cut costs.  Provide a total dollar amount to the chef or catering manager and request custom menus (keeping specific requirements in mind).

The chef is given flexibility to use seasonal or local specials, or piggyback other events being held that day, take advantage of specials offered by food suppliers – all while offering smaller and healthier portions and staying within budget.

2.  Alter the Food Presentation

Pass or butler more expensive items at a reception to make them last longer and save money.  Using napkins instead of plates, or asking the caterer to slice bakery items in half (bagels, muffins, croissants) allow for portion control.

3.  Eliminate Individual Beverages

Replace cans of soda with a self-service fountain soda station situated near the break area, and use water pitchers or coolers instead of bottles.   Attendees won’t be tempted to ‘take one for the road’.  These options are more cost effective (one planner saved $1000 by switching to water coolers!) and are good for the environment, too.

4.  Monitor a Beverage Manager

While doing the BEO, mention you would like to be present when the beverage manager tallies the bars and empties before they are finalized. (Liquor is counted by tenths of a bottle and then billed accordingly).

One count discrepancy resulting in a measurement change can equate to as many as 10-12 drinks!  This keeps the beverage manager on his toes and can result in hundreds of dollars in savings.

5.  Use a Voucher Program

Instead of preparing a traditional break time, ask the hotel to provide vouchers for the lobby snack shop.  Attendees are given vouchers, each worth $3, for example.  Each item in the snack shop is worth one voucher.  The vouchers are then counted and charged to the master account – which can be significantly less costly than a large break time.

Tips to Manage Risk and Liability When Liquor Is Served

Lawyers will tell you whether you’re giving alcohol away or selling it at an event, anyone who has control over the facility or the event is typically liable if an intoxicated person causes bodily injury or property damage as a result of the liquor served at that event.

The good news is, provided the meeting planner isn’t pouring the drinks, they normally would not be at much risk of being held personally liable. When an employee is acting in the scope of their employment, liability usually rests with the employer, not the individual. That good news, however, does not typically extend to independent meeting planners or third-party meeting planners who are independent contractors and not employees. In these instances, the meeting planner could be held liable along with the company, depending on the circumstances.

“The only way to eliminate liquor liability is to eliminate alcohol from your event,” says Marilyn Hauck, founder and president of The Complete Conference and a 20-year veteran in the meetings industry who plans, markets, and manages meetings and events of all sizes. “A non-alcohol event is often not an option, so the next best way to reduce your liability is to create an environment that discourages overdrinking.”

Hauck suggests these steps to take to keep your attendees from overindulging and to reduce liquor liability:

Give written instructions to bartenders not to serve persons who are either underage or noticeably intoxicated.

Establish a monitoring system to ensure that minors and intoxicated persons are not served alcohol.

• Designate someone from the planning team to refrain from drinking during the function to monitor the bartenders.

Avoid self-service bars and kegs of beer.

• Control the length of the cocktail reception and don’t announce last call.

• Always provide food and non-alcoholic beverages where alcohol is served.

Arrange transportation – or a place to stay – in advance.

Buy liquor liability insurance if your organization is the server or seller.

• Make sure the group has a standard operating procedure for handling attendees who have had too much to drink.

Since its inception in 1979, the mission of The Complete Conference, Inc., has been to develop and implement high quality cost-effective meetings with professionalism, integrity, customer satisfaction and dependability. The company can be reached at 916-922-7032 or info@completeconference.com.

Creative Food & Beverage on a Budget

It’s the nature of meeting planning that if the budget is reduced, the first area to be scrutinized for cuts is food and beverage.
Bonnie Wallsh, CMP, CMM, a chief strategist with 30 years of experience as a consultant, trainer and educator specializing in the meetings and hospitality industry and Sean Curry, executive chef at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, have collaborated to develop a list of cost-savings tips.
“From hotel negotiations to food presentation, there are endless ways you can reduce your food and beverage costs without sacrificing quality,” says Wallsh.
Here’s a sampling of tips:
• Dutch treat networking dinners – attendees join together for dinner according to topics of interest
• Evaluate costs savings of small groups eating in the hotel restaurant rather than a catered function with minimum charges
• Negotiate complimentary reception or refreshments at registration
• Give attendees hotel vouchers instead of a closing luncheon – many attendees may not use them
• Order any individually packaged items such as soda, bottled waters, juices, individual yogurts, by consumption, not by person
• Shorten time of reception or provide inexpensive entertainment – guests will eat less if their attention is diverted – and avoid salted snacks which make people thirstier
• Have wait staff ask if refills are wanted before refilling wine glasses
• Consider a cash bar
• Use history to determine guarantees and order by consumption, not per person
• Investigate sponsorship of meal functions – serve dessert near sponsor’s booth if trade shows follows lunch
• Cut down on portions, reduce number of courses, serve continental breakfast instead of full American breakfast, use boxed lunches if appropriate and serve light lunches, such as salads, rather than heavy entrees
• Take advantage of “dead wine” – wine in inventory — and use opened bottles of liquor and wine for hospitality or VIP suite
• Piggy back off other groups’ events
• Use meal tickets
• Use butler service instead of buffet tables
“There are no limits to how creative you can get while cutting corners,” says Wallsh. “Just with centerpieces — you can use an innovative way to put the buffet lunch on a Lazy Susan as the centerpiece, you can use fresh fruit or vegetables which can be consumed or donated to the homeless or consider a ‘do your own party’ theme where attendees work in groups to make their own centerpieces.”
For more great meeting ideas, visit www.conventionplanit.com and mouse over the “For Planners Only” section and go to the “Stellar Tips” link. There is no registration required and you can even enter your own Stellar Tip for a chance to win a valuable prize.
Bonnie Wallsh Associates, LLC works in tandem with clients to develop outstanding programs and meetings. The company can be reached by email at bwacmp@carolina.rr.com and by telephone at 704-491-0921.

It’s the nature of meeting planning that if the budget is reduced, the first area to be scrutinized for cuts is food and beverage.

Bonnie Wallsh, CMP, CMM, a chief strategist with 30 years of experience as a consultant, trainer and educator specializing in the meetings and hospitality industry and Sean Curry, executive chef at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, have collaborated to develop a list of cost-savings tips.

“From hotel negotiations to food presentation, there are endless ways you can reduce your food and beverage costs without sacrificing quality,” says Wallsh.

Here’s a sampling of tips:

Dutch treat networking dinners – attendees join together for dinner according to topics of interest

Evaluate costs savings of small groups eating in the hotel restaurant rather than a catered function with minimum charges

Negotiate complimentary reception or refreshments at registration

Give attendees hotel vouchers instead of a closing luncheon – many attendees may not use them

Order any individually packaged items such as soda, bottled waters, juices, individual yogurts, by consumption, not by person

Shorten time of reception or provide inexpensive entertainment – guests will eat less if their attention is diverted – and avoid salted snacks which make people thirstier

Have wait staff ask if refills are wanted before refilling wine glasses

Consider a cash bar

Use history to determine guarantees and order by consumption, not per person

Investigate sponsorship of meal functions – serve dessert near sponsor’s booth if trade shows follows lunch

Cut down on portions, reduce number of courses, serve continental breakfast instead of full American breakfast, use boxed lunches if appropriate and serve light lunches, such as salads, rather than heavy entrees

Take advantage of “dead wine” – wine in inventory — and use opened bottles of liquor and wine for hospitality or VIP suite

Piggy back off other groups’ events

Use meal tickets

Use butler service instead of buffet tables

“There are no limits to how creative you can get while cutting corners,” says Wallsh. “Just with centerpieces — you can use an innovative way to put the buffet lunch on a Lazy Susan as the centerpiece, you can use fresh fruit or vegetables which can be consumed or donated to the homeless or consider a ‘do your own party’ theme where attendees work in groups to make their own centerpieces.”

Bonnie Wallsh Associates, LLC works in tandem with clients to develop outstanding programs and meetings. The company can be reached by email at bwacmp@carolina.rr.com and by telephone at 704-491-0921.

Real Healthy Menus from Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel

Bethennys Best Seller, Naturally Thin, offers healthy eating advice

Bethenny's Best Seller, Naturally Thin, offers healthy eating advice

Reality TV Star and Author Bethenny Frankel Dishes Out Diet and Exercise Tips for Planners

When you want the lowdown on how to stay thin and fit in a world where work and stress drives you away from those goals, turn to the expert.

Enter Bethenny Frankel, a star of the “Real Housewives of New York City” program on Bravo TV and runner-up in the reality television show, “Martha Stewart Apprentice.”

Oh, and she’s author of a New York Times bestselling book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Life of Dieting.

If you’re working 10 hours a day, traveling every month, and having trouble eating right and exercising, fear not!

ConventionPlanit.com asked Bethenny to offer some ideas especially for meeting professionals and meeting attendees. Here’s what she had to say:

CP: People in the meetings industry are always traveling and eating fast food in airports and heavy dinners at organized events. How can they eat healthier on the road?

Bethenny: “I’m too busy” or “I’m always traveling” are not viable excuses. I travel more than almost anyone I know, and I manage to make the most of wherever I am. There is always a lesser of evils. When working at the Kentucky Derby, the best available snack were whole wheat crackers filled with cheese. At an airport, I recently had half a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard. Most coffee places have a whole wheat bagel you can scoop and planes have small bags of nuts. My book ‘Naturally Thin’ goes into detail about how to be healthy in unhealthy places.

CP: What types of food should planners put on the menu for their meetings?

Bethenny: Food should be thoughtful, whole grain, fresh, in bright colors, and with lots of variety and fruit and vegetable choice. When even the popular big-box retail stores have lots of organic and healthy food, everyone needs to follow suit.

CP: What’s appropriate for a group dinner with 3,000 people and what is good for snacking between sessions?

Bethenny: Whole grain pasta with vegetables, olive oil, and garlic, and chicken or shrimp. Whole grain turkey or cheese and vegetable wraps or sandwiches are good choices, as are brown rice vegetables and fish sushi. Also assorted salads that last a long time without wilting such as cabbage, grilled vegetables and brown rice vegetable salads. For dessert, try rainbow fruit skewers, whole grain cookies, and brownies

CP: What about exercise? What’s your advice for the frequent traveler with little free time?

Bethenny: Do what you can when you can. Be realistic. Sleep is sometime more important than exercising when stressed or exhausted, plus lack of sleep is linked to overeating and weight gain. Stretch in your room and do sit-ups and pushups. Work out when you get home and don’t beat yourself up about it. Bring yoga DVD and play it on your computer. Walk to meetings.

CP: How can exercise be integrated into a meeting for attendees who are sitting in sessions all day?

Bethenny: Bring in a Yoga instructor to lead people through a few basic exercises during breaks. Position a few exercise bikes around the meeting and invite people to take a quick spin. Even just five or 10 minutes of moderate exercise can give you energy for the whole day.

CP: What are the key messages you deliver when you speak in front of large groups at conventions and meetings?

Bethenny: Your diet is a bank account and you are in charge of checks and deposits. Food is not your best friend nor your enemy, and you were neither good nor bad.

CP: Summer is here. What are your tips for making the most of the opportunity for outdoor activities?

Bethenny: Do things that you love and that you can’t do year round. Swim, bike, hike, surf, play volleyball, walk on the beach. Any summer event can be healthy. Make turkey, tuna or veggie burgers. Eat turkey dogs and colorful salads. Fill up on fruit, use whole grain rolls, and drink Skinnygirl cocktails.

CP: Summer is also a time for bountiful produce of all varieties. What are a few creative ways to integrate these into your daily diet?

Bethenny: Buy what’s fresh and bright and make that the centerpiece of your meal: rainbow salad, rainbow fruit skewers, or grilled vegetables. Have the produce be the star and the meat and fats be the co-stars.

CP: Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What’s on your breakfast menu?

Bethenny: Whatever you want that is whole grain, hearty, and high-fiber. Colorful fruits, egg white frittatas with vegetables, or wheat pancakes.

CP: Many people get caught with the late-night munchies and give in to junk foods full of calories. How can they better deal with that challenge?

Bethenny: If you know thyself then eat a good investment dinner and have a lesser of evil snack such as pop chips, pretzels, fruit, or a handful of nuts. But sometimes you just have to suck it up and go to bed.

To learn more about the book, Naturally Thin, visit www.bethenny.com. To book Bethenny for personal appearances or speaking engagements please contact Lori Levine at Flying Television at 212.741.3066 or Lori@Flyingtelevision.com.