F&B Inspired Breakouts: How Interactive Breakouts Are Spicing Up the Meeting & Convention Experience

By Martin Pfefferkorn Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta | August 05, 2012

As Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Atlanta, I oversee the restaurants at the hotel as well as the weddings, social gatherings and corporate functions that take place in our 180,000 square feet of event space. I present unique menu specialties blending my own inspirations with the indigenous ingredients of the New South.

Southerners, and visitors to Atlanta, expect a certain amount of classic comfort food, however what they find in today's menu selection is not your mama's comfort food. Pimento Cheese, Biscuits and Jam, and blackberry cobblers are a few examples of comfort food selections whose recipes have been reinvented. Gone are the days of heavy "fat" laden recipes. I like to bring an explosion of flavor using the concept that "less is more" and "fresh is best." Southern sophistication has found its way into the largest and smallest kitchens. Atlanta brags more than eight contenders in the "Top Chef" popular show.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta is satisfying Meeting Planners hungry for innovative breakout ideas. The hotel offers over the largest ballroom in the state to small boardrooms for executive meetings. We embrace our Southern roots and allow experts to run the show with interactive and learning-based breakouts.

According to information provided by Elizabeth Mann, Sales Manager for an Atlanta Destination Management and Corporate Event Planning Company, Juice Studios, there is an increase in demand for meeting breaks that not only incorporate refreshments for attendees but also an interactive learning experience. She also said, planners are presenting the challenge to keep corporate groups entertained and enlightened between breaks in meetings while integrating the current and evolving food trends.

Crafty with Craft Beer

George Brown, Senior Food & Beverage Director at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, isn't the type to settle for a boring event. Based off a concept used in the hotel's Lobby bar, Twenty-Two Storys, Brown helped bring craft beer to the forefront of the interactive breakout experience.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.