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Demographic considerations for food and fun

Posted on April 09, 2007

By Rob Schron

In the meeting planning business, when it comes to putting together an agenda, you need to recognize that all men – and women, as well -- are not created equal.

In short, you must know your audience. If you’re an internal corporate or association planner, chances are you know who you’re dealing with and the issues most important to them. But if you’re an independent planner, make sure your client provides you with a detailed profile that pinpoints the type of crowd you’re going to have to manage, and who among them may need “special handling.”

And remember that the site you choose for your meeting isn’t more important than what you plan to do once everyone gets there. In this vein, if everybody either works for the company holding the meeting or shares interest in a common subject matter, the agenda itself should be the least of your challenges. What you need to do is make sure the overall experience is, if not unforgettable, at the very least enjoyable.   

So the first thing you probably need to know is the age range of the participants. Young and old don’t always mix, or even want to try, so you might want to make sure you’ve selected a site for your program that has universal appeal and enough activities that all age groups can find something to enjoy. Not everybody plays golf, remember, and casinos and beaches are not everybody’s cup of tea, either.

Food, too, needs to be considered, since one person’s steak is often another’s
broccoli. Best bet here is to probably consider a buffet with a wide variety of choices, or a plated meal with options for appetizers and main courses.

Creativity can come into play here, of course. If you’re putting together a lunch or dinner for an international audience, consider food stations representative of the various countries from where the attendees come from. Or, if the company produces a product at various domestic or international locations, you could serve food known to be the specialties of these regions and thus create a theme.

In short, meeting planners need to give thought for food outside the meeting room, in addition to giving food for thought inside the meeting room.


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