This is the first of three articles on the A to Z of Meeting and Event Planning.

Audience – Know your audience.  How will their demographics (age, sex, income, family, occupation, education, religion) and their psychographic traits (social class, lifestyle, and personality) impact your event?  What are their expectations of the event?

Budgets – Prepare detailed budget worksheets (pre-plan, budget, actual).  Make sure your bottom line dollars match your budgeted amount.  Always be prepared for the unexpected.

Add-on Costs – Don’t overlook add-on costs: taxes and gratuities (can be as much as 9% and 18% respectively), speaker & VIP expenses, extra food ordered on-site and last minute shipping & freight costs.

Decorations – When considering event decorations, plan for the focal points: event entrance/exit, registration area, food areas (buffet and guests tables), bathrooms and featured areas.

Evaluations – Never end a meeting or an event without evaluating it.  Use written attendee evaluations, wrap-up meetings, staff debriefing, or post-conference meetings.  Don’t wait to long.  Evaluate while the information is still fresh on your mind.

Food & Beverage Trends (https://www.kapow.com/blog/food-and-drink/2017-food-beverage-trends/)

  • Vegetarian Comfort Foods– Meat-heavy meals and pasta dishes are moving aside to make way for vegetable-based food.
  • Artisan Butchers – Though vegetable dishes are taking over menus, many artisanal butcher shops are pushing back by setting up butcher shops-cum-restaurants, delivering a more upscale flair to the craft of butchery. The “butcher-to-table” trend lets customers see the preparation of everything from grilled steak to charcuterie.
  • Street Food Inspired Dishes – Last year, street food and food trucks were hugely popular. But street foods are now moving into the kitchens of the nation’s top chefs. Expect to see dumplings, tempura and kabobs popping up on menus. Street food serves as a gateway to other cultures, people and places, so they provide the perfect opportunity to introduce your clients and colleagues to something new and exciting.
  • Bowls, Bowls and More Bowls – Over the last few years, bowls have been slowly creeping into different types of cuisine. 2017 will bring a heavy emphasis on grain and vegetable bowls—and bowls in general. Besides the fact that bowls are a clean way to consume your food, there’s a psychological benefit as well. Holding a bowl makes you more prone to mindfulness, meaning you’ll feel full a lot faster, and you’ll be able to savor all the flavors and textures with every bite.
  • Spices and House-Made Condiments – Many foodies are demanding more heat and flavor from their meals so there are two trends that are sure to come from that: the use of spices and house-made condiments. This year we should see a rise in southeast Asian spices like chilies, tamarind, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, coriander/cilantro, cardamom, kaffir lime, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, caraway, mustard seed, shrimp paste, sharp citrus juices and zests.
  • War on Waste – Cooks are learning to create delicious dishes with parts of the animal, fruit or vegetable that would normally end up in the trash. So don’t be alarmed if you’re seeing carrot tops, fish bones and cilantro roots on your plate.
  • Authentic Ethnic Foods – Ethnic foods are appearing everywhere these days, with help, in part, from the adventurous millennials who are exploring global flavors. This year, we’ll see a heavy focus on AfricanMiddle Eastern and Latin American cuisine.

Next time we will do Letters G to S…..

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