Food & Beverage: Five Hot Trends in the Meetings Industry

By Andy Dolce Founder, Chairman & Managing Partner, Dolce International | February 20, 2010

While food trends may come and go, meeting planners always need to feed their attendees. With travelers' tastes expanding to more global flavors, today's successful meeting hotels must go above and beyond the typical banquet fare to wow today's finicky groups.

While traditional fare is still in vogue in some markets, hoteliers must keep abreast of culinary trends and changing palates. Did you know that some popular themed dinner buffets at the moment include Thai, Indian, Latin and Caribbean accented meals? Anything spicy, ethnic, bold or organic is sure to create a stir among attendees these days.

As hospitality leaders, we have a responsibility to address health and nutrition concerns of our guests. In addition, we need to ensure that we are purchasing items from local vendors when possible and selecting items such as organic meats and sustainable fish.

Aside from providing sustenance, culinary experiences for groups can be great team-building activities in both "Top Chef" and "Survivor" scenarios. The value of bonding over a home cooked meal cannot be underestimated. Read on to learn about five hot food and beverage trends in the meetings industry.

1) Broadening Our Horizons - The Most Requested Ethnic Meals

For meeting organizers, planning a meal that appeals to the exotic and ethnic tastes of attendees is growing in popularity. Planners are now inquiring about Indian-fusion and Japanese cuisine, while the more adventurous are pursuing Korean and African foods. In addition, interest in flavors from North Africa like couscous is spreading across the country and Olympic hype from Beijing will surely boost cravings for Chinese food. At Dolce International, our chefs are using many imported items such as Moroccan harissa, Thai curry sauce from Hong Kong, Malaysian tamarind, imported Truffles from France, lemongrass oil, fish sauce from Vietnam, and 100 year old balsamic aged vinegar from Tuscany.

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Architecture & Design: Expecting the Unexpected

There are more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide and the hotel industry is continually looking for new ways to differentiate its properties. In some cases, hotels themselves have become travel destinations and guests have come to expect the unexpected - to experience the touches that make the property unlike any other place in the world. To achieve this, architects and designers are adopting a variety of strategies to meet the needs of every type of guest and to provide incomparable customer experiences. One such strategy is site-integration - the effort to skillfully marry a hotel to its immediate surroundings. The goal is to honor the cultural location of the property, and to integrate that into the hotel's design - both inside and out. Constructing low-impact structures that blend in with the environment and incorporating local natural elements into the design are essential to this endeavor. Similarly, there is an ongoing effort to blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces - to pull the outside in - to enable guests to connect with nature and enjoy beautiful, harmonious surroundings at all times. Another design trend is personalization - taking the opportunity to make every space within the hotel original and unique. The days of matching decor and furniture in every room are gone; instead, designers are utilizing unexpected textures, mix-and-match furniture, diverse wall treatments and tiles - all to create a more personalized and fresh experience for the guest. Finally, lobbies are continuing to evolve. They are being transformed from cold, impersonal, business-like spaces into warm, inviting, living room-like spaces, meant to provide comfort and to encourage social interaction. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.