As event planners, we have a duty of care to ensure that any delegate dietary requirements are considered and where possible provided at your venue of choice for events or conferences.

Delegate satisfaction affects the success of an event, so we need to always ensure our menus cater for everyone. Often catering an event can get quite overwhelming but with considered planning, it doesn’t need to be complex or in fact time-consuming to event planners.

The team at Nectar have come up with some easy tips to help you plan catering at your next event to accommodate any delegate dietary needs.

Managing dietary requirements

Understand your audience 

Having a profile of your potential audience should provide some insights into the types of dietary requests you may receive, and therefore should be considered when selecting menus for your event. 

Dietary requirements can be based on allergies, intolerances, cultural or religious views. Meeting the expectations of your delegates is key as these catering requests may in fact be critical to their health. It’s important  that your delegates feel confident they can consume the menu presented at your event without incident.  

Research dietary needs in advance

There are so many different dietary needs out there today and it’s worth spending some time researching these as an event planner to understand your delegate requests. 

Some health-related diets include gluten-free, celiac and diabetes whereas some common dietary requests include dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, ketogenic and paleo. Other requests may include low sugar, low GI, whole 30, organic and pregnancy related. Religious diet requests for delegates can include kosher and halal.

An event menu should always include gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options as a base standard.

Food allergies can be severe and even life-threatening if a person is exposed to certain allergens. There are 8 major food allergens that should be considered including, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, soy and wheat. You should always ensure your venue declares all ingredients that feature in their menus.

Managing dietary requirements

Preparation is key

As an event planner, you should always give advance notice to your venues to ensure they are able to accommodate all your delegate dietary requests. It’s critical that you discuss and plan for all dietary requirements from the initial planning stage to ensure the basics are covered in your menu.

Using a simple form when the delegate registers to include any requests is a good first step in planning. This may lessen the risk of any last-minute surprisesand gives your venue time to source suitable ingredients or alternatives for your delegates needs.

Consider your catering budget

Sometimes catering for certain preferences for your event can be quite costly. It’s critical to check in with the venue which special diets it accommodates, and which ones may incur additional fees in advance.

Most good venues already consider dietary options. Check with your venue if they already have menus designed with multiple choices for the likes of gluten and dairy free dishes as well as vegetarian options – these are usually a good place to start..

Work together 

As an event planner, you should work collaboratively with your venue to create a menu to cater for all delegates. Ensure you are both in agreement on how to handle any last-minute requests and how the kitchen staff will be notified of same.

Your event registration forms need to clearly articulate any dietary requirements and shouldn’t be open to any misinterpretation. If further clarification is needed, as the event planner you should contact the delegate direct to discuss their requirements in detail.

Managing dietary requirements

Plan for attractive menu choices

If a dietary request is received, you should work with the venue to ensure that it is as attractive as the other menu options you offer.  There is nothing worse than a last minute option that shows no imagination or consideration for the delegate. 

As the event planner, you need to ensure all venue staff are informed of dietary requirements and briefed about menu choices. Ensure all menu items clearly state ingredient information and any allergen contents, and buffets are signed.

Obtain catering feedback

You should always ask your delegates for feedback on your event including the catering. This will provide you with insights into your future planning to ensure your menu items are appealing to guests with dietary needs.

As an event planner, you need to ensure your guests feel listened to about their needs and are well serviced, so they leave your event satisfied and happy.

For more information on Nectar CC and how we can help create your next brilliant event, with a catering menu to match, please contact us on 1300 878 815.