by Michael Green
FACT: Everyone needs to eat, most everyone likes to drink and everybody loves to talk about it!
All too often, cautious event planners execute wonderful events but fail to realize that food and beverage can be powerful marketing tools.
Beyond the actual taste and tactile sensation of wine and food there are other – and often more important – psychological factors that are more powerful when defining and differentiating your event. The world is hungry for authentic “can’t be bought” experiences and food and wine can provide tasty opportunities.
Think of food and wine (or more broadly food and beverage) as your marketing partner. They can brand your event.
Think of every decision of the food and beverage journey as a marketing and branding opportunity that can communicate corporate culture, goals, new wins, icebreakers, and product and service launches.
Thirsty For Inspiration? Think Reason, Season and Region
Get to the heart and get your inspiration for why you are having your event. This should generate some creative and appropriate food and beverage ideas.
•Expanding Markets: Develop a wine dinner or reception that focuses on these markets. Ever taste a wine from Mexico, China, Greece or Uruguay?
•Unveiling New Ideas or Trends: Use each course as a case study to illustrate new trends – screw caps, sous vide cooking, organic/biodynamic wines, organic produce, celebrity chefs and mixologists.
•Company Anniversaries: Go back in time and explore wine and food from the birth of your company; what did you eat and drink 25 years ago?
•Women in Business: Create an experience that celebrates female chefs and vineyard owners.
•Leadership Initiatives: Craft an evening where the food and beverage shine the spotlight on leaders in the hospitality industry such as Robert Mondavi and Alice Waters.
The season can also provide inspiration. A hearty more homey comfort dining experience might be great with the chill of winter while lighter fare may be more appropriate as the temperatures rise. Remember: We often drink and eat with the seasons. Here are some additional ideas that take their inspiration from the season and time of year.
•February: A Rose inspired event around Valentine’s Day. Some of the toniest Champagnes are rose and rose water is reemerging as a popular ingredient in many dishes.
•July: Made in America! A food and beverage journey that celebrates cuisine and beverage from different regions in America.
•Winter: Strong, Sweet, Warm and Fortified – A Tasting of Ports and Desserts.
Don’t overlook the importance of place to help craft an authentic experience. What unique foods, beverages and talent can you find in your region or the place where you are holding your conference or event? Sometimes the freshest ideas are right in your backyard. Also many of the finest wine destinations are located no more than two hours from a major city: North Fork of Long Island (New York City), Napa Valley (San Francisco) and Champagne (Paris).
So raise a glass and fork and toast the endless epicurean event opportunities!