International meeting planners have noted a significant increase in conference delegates expressing dietary and allergen requirements during event registration, according to IACC’s 2018 Meeting Room of the Future report.
As this trend is forecasted to grow in 2019, IACC, in collaboration with the World Obesity Foundation and other industry partners such as MPI, Events Industry Council and Thrive Meetings and Events, has created the Guide to Managing Conference Delegate Dietary Requirements – a new, comprehensive guide designed to help meeting and event planners manage partnerships and liaison with venues on the topic of dietary needs and requirements to ensure delegate health and wellbeing.
The guide also explains the various allergens and emerging diets, including religious requirements and health-related allergens, and provides advice and practical tips on how to place delegate health and wellbeing at the heart of events without compromising on experience.
Mark Cooper, IACC CEO, comments: “Last year, when I asked a room of 200 meeting planners if managing dietary needs was a challenge and 75% or more raised their hands, I knew immediately that we needed to do more as an association and industry. As we conducted more research, we saw clearly that there was some valuable insights and best practice that if adopted, would help both our planner and venue community. This is just the beginning and we hope that in the near future we will see more training and certifications to support the competent management of dietary needs.”
One of the pieces of research undertaken by IACC that surfaced a gap in the market which presented a challenge for planners and drove the creation of the dietary guide was IACC’s latest Trends in Nutrition & Delegate Wellbeing study, which highlighted that 79% of meeting planners agreed that they now receive more dietary requests in comparison to two years ago; only 75% of venues offer training to staff on serving people with allergies; and only 33% of venues include basic nutritional information on their menus.
Anna Hess, IACC Americas Board Associate and guide project leader comments: “It is vital that we embrace the concept of understanding and managing delegate dietary requirements effectively. There is so much we can do both as planners and venues to make this a totally manageable process and reduce the risks of getting something wrong. I was excited to work with such a passionate group of IACC and industry experts in the development of this guide.”
Tracy Stuckrath, founder and chief connecting officer of Thrive! Meetings & Events said: “I’m excited that IACC has created this guide to help its members and their delegates manage dietary requirements and ensure eat safely in conference centres around the world. This guide provides the steps to get started.”
The full guide is available for download here.
As an additional resource, in January 2019, IACC will host two webinars, one for meeting planners and one for venues, focused on Food & Beverage trends. Registrations will be made available at iacconline.org in due course.