We have noticed a significant rise in the number of dietary requirements for events in the past few years. This provides some added challenges for event planners as they work to ensure that all attendees are catered for and feel included. It is a good idea to collect your dietary requirements as early as possible and try to communicate them with the venue as early as possible – particularly if they are very specific. Here are some tips that will assist you to plan for the dietary requirements at your next event. If you are not sure what the different dietary requirements mean, we have found this link from Webster University which explains them well.
1. Capture the dietary requirement in the registration process
It is important to allow a section for your attendees to provide their dietary requirements in their initial registration for the event. This allows you to have a good indication of how many you will have and if there is a significant number of the same requirement you may look to tailor the main menu accordingly. We generally do this as a tick box with the main requirements (vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, vegan etc) and then also include a box for “Other” with a free type section for those who have a specific requirement. Using this process makes it a little easier to collate the requirements later. If you aren’t sure which ticketing platform to use for your event check out our Blog “Which event ticketing platform should I use”
2. Decide whether to include the dietary requirement in the main menu
If you have a significant number of vegetarians in your group it may be an idea to tailor the menu accordingly. Incorporating the main dietary requirements into the overall menu can make the attendees with requirements feel less alienated and provides a talking point. This can also avoid what we call “on the spot” dietary requirements – where once the dietary meal has been served the remainder of the table decide that it looks more appetising than their own meal and suddenly the whole table is vegetarian.
3. Provide a percentage of the menu to cover certain requirements
There are of course circumstances where you have forgotten to request their dietary requirements or there wasn’t an official registration process. In this circumstance can be a good idea to provide a percentage of food to cover the more common dietary requirements. For example you may select your regular food items but request that say 20% of the items be vegetarian or gluten free. We generally ask the venue to keep these items separate to the main food but still accessible as the “regular” eaters can still eat both.
It is important to ensure that your attendees dietary requirements are catered for – if you send someone home hungry because you didn’t provide anything they can eat, it almost guarantees a negative review of your event. If you follow the above steps it will ensure happy attendees, happy venue & chef and overall a better result for your event.