Traditional three and four course menu options no longer define a premium or luxury food experience for younger delegates, according to QHotels’ Event Profs Panel. 

The panel, which is made up of young professionals working in the event industry, met at the Cheltenham Chase hotel to take part in a discussion focusing on the future of F&B at conferences and events.

As part of the session hosted by QHotels, managed by Redefine|BDL Hotels (RBH), the group agreed that understanding delegate expectations in terms of what constitutes a high-class F&B experience is essential. It became clear that the definition of luxury is influenced by the age of attendees, with experiential or different tasting options being perceived as a premium amongst younger delegates, compared to traditional luxury ingredients.

While there will always be a place for a champagne reception and three-course sit-down meal, it was decided that event profs shouldn’t be restricted to one structure or style as delegates are likely to have different perceptions of premium.

Emma Barker, Event Manager at Tebays, said: “It’s important for event profs to be aware of the different expectations of delegates. We appreciate there needs to be an element of flexibility when suggesting menus and that involves looking past traditional F&B expectations. It also means being aware of new food and drink trends that are becoming popular and therefore impacting the events industry. And while we wouldn’t suggest that events (or delegates!) should be pigeonholed by their age, we expect a younger audience to be the ones driving change when it comes to luxury F&B.”

Some of the key trends the panel identified as becoming more prominent included:

  • Craft beers
  • Understanding food provenance
  • Participation and experiential dining
  • Wine pairing 
  • Locally sourced produce

Stephen Bench, Divisional Director at Redefine|BDL Hotels, said: “F&B at conferences is becoming increasingly influenced by trends that we’re seeing at home and on the high street restaurant scene, for example street food. It’s also impacting what we perceive as luxury. We’re seeing a lot of different requests come through to our venues, from interactive food experiences, to wine pairings and gin tastings. The key for both venues and event profs is to remain flexible and responsive to what’s happening outside the C&E space, as these trends will continue to impact the events we host.”