Executive Travel Directors Offers Three New Ways to Work with F&B Special Requests

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ETD breaks down best practices to avoid Food and Beverage mishaps.

Meeting and incentive programs incorporate Food & Beverage (F&B) components ranging from brief coffee breaks to multi-course dinners. Despite the extent of the F&B spread, a meeting planner must take several necessary precautions to ensure all attendee dietary needs are met. The following are three steps meeting planners can take in working with venue and onsite staff to avoid F&B mishaps.

1.    Survey attendees prior to the program to collect dietary needs. This can be done online or with registration cards. Explicitly ask about food allergies and religious and lifestyle requirements. Meetings and Conventions magazine suggests collecting guests’ dietary restrictions over food preferences. This way meeting planners do not end up with hundreds of specific orders.

2.    Place a Travel Director (TD), an onsite support staff, at the registration desk to confirm previously submitted meal needs and manage last minute special requests as guests arrive. Meetings and incentive programs must accommodate all special requests according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law states that individuals are entitled to be provided with food that meets their medical dietary restrictions. This process of double-checking requests minimizes risk and liability by making sure all orders submitted to the program venue are approved by attendees and adhere to all their needs.

3.    Be clear with labeling. Attendees with special meal requests should have table placards or nametags with a symbol signifying their needs. Work with the venue to create a labeled buffet indicating food ingredients (especially common allergens) as well as Kosher and vegan/vegetarian options. Coordinating special orders or buffet options will be made much easier by adhering to the previous steps.

Executive Travel Directors (ETD) is a Chicago-based company providing onsite logistical assistance to business meetings, incentive trips, and medical educational sessions. Since 1988, ETD has operated on respect for meeting planners and the success of their programs. ETD hosts a registry of over 2,000 travel directors and provides staff to more than 5,000 programs annually. For more information on Executive Travel Directors, please visit us at http://www.traveldirectors.com.

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Kim Korhonen
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