by Matt Alderton | October 04, 2017
Health and wellness are high priorities for people not only when they're at restaurants or the gym, but also when they're at meetings and events, concludes a new survey of meeting venues released today by IACC.

The "Trends in Nutrition & Delegate Wellbeing" survey asked meeting venues a series of 24 questions about health choices available to attendees through food-and-beverage menus and types of event spaces. Among its findings:

1. Attendees Are Hungry for 'Brain Foods'

Venues told IACC that they are receiving more requests for foods that go beyond nutritional density. For example, more attendees are requesting foods whose nutrient and mineral content have been shown to increase brain health, such as walnuts, avocados, quinoa, blueberries, spinach, and kale. Approximately 38 percent of venues said they already offer specific "brain foods" on their menus.

"Earlier this year, our 'Meeting Room of the Future' research revealed that brain food is important to delegates. Now, through this new research report on delegate nutrition and wellbeing, we see the opportunity to help with delegate alertness and attention is being taken seriously by an increasing number of venues," said IACC CEO Mark Cooper.

2. Attendees Want Balanced Breaks

Three-quarters of venues said they publish basic nutritional information on their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. However, attendees also want break menus to be healthy, according to IACC, which said 88 percent of venues have made changes to their break menus based on health and wellness trends or feedback from clients.

"Meeting professionals are also increasingly asking for continuous food breaks to fuel their attendees," said Jessie States, manager of professional development at Meeting Professionals International (MPI). "The nutritional needs of an audience are as diverse as the individuals who comprise it. And people need the food that fuels them at a variety of different times. As meeting planners look to take a personal approach to the onsite experiences of diverse audiences, food becomes a major player in the design of welcoming and inclusive experiences."

3. Attendees Are Saying 'No' to Gluten

IACC asked venues which food requests they receive more now compared to two years. The answer -- given by 100 percent of venues -- was gluten-free, which at many venues has become a standard menu choice alongside vegetarian.

4. Attendees Crave Communal Spaces

Health and wellbeing aren't just about what attendees eat; they're also about where attendees meet, according to IACC, which said 100 percent of venues claim to make design decisions based partly on health and wellness. Especially popular are areas for communal interaction and public spaces for quiet reflection.

"The focus is no longer only on the main room," Cooper concluded, "so meeting planners should include details and dimensions of outside the room spaces in proposals and venue specifications."

IACC's "Trends in Nutrition & Delegate Wellbeing" survey is available for complimentary download from IACC's website.

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