Authors: Gina Sin and Cristi Kempf
From foraging for truffles in an Oregon vineyard to dining on a fragrant biryani in a Singaporean family’s home, hyper-local F&B experiences provide opportunities for attendees to step out of the convention center and dig into a destination.
Planners are finding new ways to accommodate those attendees who want to see — and taste — the “real” Pittsburgh or Portland (with vineyard-traipsing Big Foody PDX) or Perth.
People are “looking for location-true, authentic, off-the-beaten-path, things-I’ve-never-seen-before places,” Kate Fairweather, an innovation consultant for Fahrenheit 212, said during a session at PCMA Convening Leaders 2019. Fahrenheit 212, a New York City–based global consultancy firm, created “The Future of Meetings and Events” report for Marriott and the PCMA Foundation, which singled out “a sense of place” as one of five major, future-oriented consumer trends and market forces that will transform meetings and events.
The report is not the only piece of research pointing to the importance of “only-in-this-destination” experiences. The Incentive Research Foundation’s (IRF) 2019 Trends Study lists “transformational experiences” as one of 10 key trends in incentive travel. And that study pointed to the Global Wellness Summit’s 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report, which heralded “A New Era of Transformative Travel,” describing it as “travel that challenges people on a deeply personal level.”
So what’s out there to help planners find ways to satisfy their experience-hungry attendees? One example from IRF is NOSHtrekker’s Plantation Table, where a local host invites guests into her home and curates a history-rich menu. In Singapore, (NOSHtrekker is also in Australia and Brunei) author and environmentalist Indra Rani creates a meal that, the NOSHtrekker website says, “takes guests back to the days of the Empire where rail was king and steam trains still thundered through the muggy plantations of rubber and palm.” (See photo gallery below.)
Elsewhere, Eatwith offers meeting planners a way to organize in-home dining for event attendees in more than 150 cities, like the “Roman Dinner Party in a Stylish Apartment,” for up to 10 people. (See more dinners in photo gallery below.)
And the ChefsFeed app “provides dining and drinking guides, inspiration, and unique experiences direct from experts,” aka chefs — like Molly McCook of Ellerbe Fine Foods of Fort Worth, who recommends visitors to her city try The Diablo, a “super spicy” burger at “quintessential” Fort Worth spot Fred’s Texas Café. ChefsFeed can also tip planners to dining “experiences” in a particular destination, like Copenhagen or Seattle.
“The most memorable events,” the Marriott/PCMA study says, “celebrate the local surroundings, enriching visitors, exposing them to the local culture, and connecting them with the community to increase engagement.”
More Local F&B Experiences
- Around the World (of Calgary) in 3 Hours
- ‘Wine Down’ in Shipping Container Hotels at Australian Vineyards
- Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre Chef Goes Glocal for Worldchefs Dinner
Cristi Kempf is executive editor of Convene.