5 Events and Catering Food Trends in a Post-COVID-19 World
The year 2020 was a tough one for all because it was filled with changes, challenges and uncertainties that affected everyone’s routines. Out of all the industries, the event catering business has perhaps experienced the greatest challenges to date. Most events were canceled or postponed; dining establishments were likewise closed.
That is why thoughtful contemplation regarding the industry won’t just help restaurant owners, caterers, and food and beverage suppliers like you to cope, but it will also provide you with the opportunity to successfully shape a post-COVID-19 world.
Everyone’s fear of catching the virus is the main concern of event organizers and attendees. Luckily, with the widespread distribution of vaccines and various safety measures implemented, events and catering businesses are beginning to operate once again.
However, a vaccine is not the only solution that will help events flourish once more. There’s also the need to regain public confidence that you can organize gatherings safely in a way that people won’t feel overly sanitized.
If you are thinking about how your food and beverage business can adapt to serving customers in a post-COVID world, here are five things to remember for holding safe and successful in-person events moving forward.
1. Risk mitigation and high levels of cleanliness are expected of you.
In terms of figuring out your risk, you have to consider several things. Perception of how you host your event plays a critical role in whether the gathering pushes through. Other important considerations will include attendee demographics, current government mandates and guidance, event venue, and supplier service. With all the risks and restrictions involved, you need to carefully assess whether you will be able to meet your event’s objectives.
The well-being of guests must be at the forefront of your events. For instance, you should also adapt to having a visible sanitation staff. The key is to rethink all aspects of the event planning process and incorporate health and safety risk mitigation in each of them, including the menu, attendees, space, decoration, service, and entertainment.
2. Communication and transparency will help address attendee concerns.
Having a robust and transparent communication plan in place is crucial for addressing the heightened concern about health and safety standards.
The public will want to know if your event adapts to new sanitation and safety protocols before confirming their attendance. Make sure to give all pertinent details to the current situation and anything specific to your event. For instance, there will be setbacks to eco-friendly catering practices because safety will be prioritized. These may include individually packaged desserts or appetizers and condiments, bottled beverages, and use of disposable packaging and dining utensils. Don’t forget to explain your reasoning behind such decisions, as this implies thoughtful consideration is given to ensure their health, well-being, and comfort.
3. Attendees will demand lots of elbow room.
Event planners should be more strategic in terms of mapping out the venue space. Food stations, bars, and seating will all need extra space so the attendees and staff can safely distance themselves from each other.
The flow of the event should also be considered. For instance, you can implement staggered meal times for events with an agenda to allow for appropriate distancing. Doing this will also minimize exposure to the sub-groups and help you manage the venue better.
Wide outdoor spaces will be sought-after event venues because they enable more distancing. Though indoor options may be less preferred, you may need to opt for large, indoor spaces too when hosting events in destinations with a warm climate like Dubai.
4. Technology plays a vital role in your next event.
The pandemic has increased the need to integrate contactless technology in different industries, including the food and catering business. The use of tech service strategies for your events will have a practical and long-lasting use in the post-COVID-19 world.
Using an event app, for instance, can help you convey the details of the upcoming gathering in advance. You can include details on the agenda or theme of the event, entertainment, food and beverage service, and menu options. It can also assist you with seat assignments and in personalizing service meals and drinks.
At the same time, an app can keep guests engaged throughout. They can use it to communicate their dietary requirements when they enter their orders. You can also eliminate long lines because you can serve food and drinks right at their seats, thus minimizing waste and improving customer satisfaction and service.
Technology can also help you create connections by allowing your guest to add some personal details, including their pictures. Guests will most likely engage with your app if you provide a seamless user experience.
5. Attendees will still look for a memorable experience.
Despite the need for social distancing, you still need to make your guests’ experience memorable.
For instance, you can transform the customary self-service buffet into a fun, grab-and-go station. Attendees can still get their desired meals without handling the food selections, thus creating a safer, more comfortable catering experience for employees and guests alike.
Should you need to keep some of your staff members to attend to food stations, you may need to install clear glass on one side of the station to limit any contact from attendees as they serve themselves.
Another great idea is to elevate the guest experience with motion menus or vertical food stations, such as using a conveyor belt to serve food and beverages. This allows for increased selection and maximized space.
Getting creative with your packaging can also enhance your attendees’ experience at your event. For instance, you can opt for bento boxes or wooden takeout containers.
While businesses in the event and catering industry still experience the effects of COVID-19, it is crucial for you to look towards a good future in a post-pandemic world. Start by embracing the upcoming changes and bringing innovation in everything you do. As people begin to plan gatherings, they will value the efforts and steps that food distributors, event planners, and caterers take to give a safe and comfortable catering experience.