Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get Creative with Your F&B Budget

I have noticed that corporations and associations alike have a renewed focus on the return on objectives that their meetings provide. This increased pressure for success comes at a time when budgets are low, which means creativity is a must. One area that always seems to be an easy target for cost cutting is food and beverage. However, poor food quality or selection can mean disaster for any meeting. The attendees need to feel well taken care of and comfortable in order to focus on the subject matter of the program.

I found an interesting article on the American Society of Association Executives website, called Creative Ways to Stretch Your Food and Beverage Budget,  that speaks directly to this trend. Written by Mr. Jeff Waddle, the article offers useful tips on managing costs. His suggestions are as simple as being creative with centerpieces by making them edible, or replacing bottled water with pitchers.

The recommendation I like most is to work closely with the banquet team at your next function to customize the menu. Allow the vendor to understand your objectives for the event so that he can create a menu that enhances the purpose of the get together. For example, instead of hosting both a cocktail reception and a team building event, why not host a wine pairing contest? This will allow guests to sample delicious wines and hors devours, but also encourages team interaction.

Don’t let a diminished budget stand in the way of an awesome event. A bit of thinking outside the box will inspire creativity to design a memorable and productive event!

Kasey Snyder
Global Sales Manager

Dolce Basking Ridge

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Green Meetings

Though we are perpetually becoming more and more efficient with technology, many meetings big and small tend to rely heavily on disposable materials while communicating information and serving meeting attendees’ needs. We are led to our meeting room by paper signs, wear a name tag covered in plastic, drink from aluminum cans, and follow a presentation on a paper handout. As we continue to be conscious of the footprint each of us leaves on the earth, let’s consider some easy ways to make our meetings “greener” without compromising comfort and practicality.

Consider these tips:

• Offer online registration for attendees on your website

• Make handouts available online and allow internet access to attendees during the meeting

• Offer materials on a removable drive marked with your brand and encourage attendees to take the drives home with them

• If necessary to print, be sure to print double-sided pages

• Have recycling containers for aluminum, plastic, and especially paper available inside the meeting space

• Consider iced water carafes or pitchers on tables instead of bottled water at each place

• Avoid disposable coffee cups, and consider giving meeting attendees reusable coffee mugs marked with your brand at the beginning of a conference

• Offer local food for meals and even snacks, if possible

• Serve condiments in bulk rather than individually packaged

• Choose signage, displays, and decoration materials that can be reused

Alison Shermeta Gentry

Account Manager
Graylyn Estate & Conference Center

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is Malbec the new Merlot?

Being in San Francisco and working in the industry as a food and beverage manager make it imperative to stay on top of the new trends in the industry.  A new beverage trend that is especially prevalent in the media, and I have noticed myself in San Francisco, is a red wine from Argentina: the varietal Malbec. This is a relatively inexpensive wine bursting with fruit flavors with low tannins.

Recently, I have become a fan of Spanish tapas and you can be sure to find at least one Malbec on the wine list. Doing a quick Google search on the topic brought me to an article by the Wall Street Journal entitled Fine Wine on a Beer Budget. This particular article interviewed a wine shop owner in Chicago that had been in the business for three decades. He stated that in the current economic situation his average bottle price had dropped from $25 to about $15 in just a few years.

What is a wine that he recommends that is of great quality and “the new Merlot”? You guessed it, a Malbec. Retailing starting at just over $7 in his store it’s no wonder that this quality varietal has made itself a trendsetter in the industry. So has Merlot and its trendy popularity been replaced by this economical South American based red? Go out have a glass and decide for yourself.

Josh Porter
Mission Bay Conference Center
San Francisco, CA

Monday, April 5, 2010

Did You Miss the Thought Leaders Technology Panel?

On March 24th at the Annual Summit, eight experts met to discuss conference technology at the Workspring Conference Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The theme was “Incorporating Advancing Technology into the Meeting Experience," and focused on how to view technology (such as Twitter, blogs, and Skype) as a benefit to meetings, rather than a hindrance that may lead to less face-to-face meetings. 

The forum was streamed live online and was a huge success according to those that watched at the Eaglewood Resort & Spa.  In case you missed it, here's a link that gives a full recap of what the industry experts said.  Read the Report on IACC Thought Leaders Technology Panel so that you and your conference center can continue to stay on top of technology!

Annual Summit Re-Cap

The IACC Annual Summit at Eaglewood Resort & Spa was a huge success!  The summit's them of "Not Just Business As Usual" fit perfectly with the shortened conference time.  Over 200 IACC professionals gathered to learn about the industry, share best practices, and of course, have a little fun.  Over the course of the conference, participants attended a wide variety of workshops -- everything from a marketing and PR focused discussion called Pink Socks and Pocket Protectors to a sustainable food workshop called Catering to the Future.  The State of the Conference Center Industry workshop was highly attended and focused on an economic report and analysis conducted by PKF Consulting. 

Some of the highlights outside of the classrooms included the Copper Skillet Competion (IACC's version of Iron Chef) featuring extremely talented chefs from around the globe.

The Taste of Chicago dinner feast provided famous Windy City cuisine such as Giordano's pizza, Italian sausages, barbecue ribs, and a make your own risotto station.  Also, the closing ceremonies featured an amazing and nail-biting performance by the Jesse White Tumbling Team.

In all, it was a fantastic event and provided me with an incredible opportunity to meet and learn about the industry from seasoned professionals in just a few short days.  I look forward to next year's Annual Summit which will be at The National Conference Center in Washington, D.C!  Start making your plans now...you won't regret it!