CEO of global conference venue association IACC Mark Cooper whets the appetite for a new standard in managing dietary requirements.
Early last year, I asked a room of 200 meeting planners if managing dietary needs was a challenge and around 75% raised their hands. At that point I knew that this was an issue that we needed to address as an industry. Since IACC represents the most innovative, forward-thinking and results-driven meeting venues globally, I decided we would lead the way.
We conducted some research that was a little more scientific than my hand raising exercise – insightful though it had been. IACC’s latest Meeting Room of the Future study found that 79% of meeting planners receive more dietary requests now than they did two years ago. However, we also found that 25% of venues offered no training to their staff on serving people with allergies, and only 33% of venues include basic nutritional information on their menus.
I must admit, I was somewhat surprised that after hearing so many conversations about dietary needs over the past few years, only a third of venue menus contained relevant dietary information. Another reason for my surprise is perhaps given that I that spend a lot of time in IACC certified venues that take this seriously. The need for all venues to provide complex dietary choices is not going away and nor should it. The sooner the entire industry embraces this trend as a norm, rather than an exception, the better it will be. I see delivering quality and choice in terms of dietary requirements as a prime opportunity to provide an excellent personalised service to delegates and our clients.
Venues that offer easy-to-understand dietary information and choice, create a clear differentiation for themselves; a truly worthwhile and altruistic competitive advantage.
The onus is on us as an industry. Let’s not make providing for dietary needs a headache for our clients, let’s take the pressure off them and bear it as our responsibility. It’s the right thing to do and I believe we’ll reap rewards as an industry from doing so.