This week we hear from Mary Collins of Meet in Ireland, who gives us her take aways from the SITE Week Ideation session on Food and Beverage in the Near Future and Beyond. This session was hosted by Irish chef Andrew Rudd, Owner of private dining venue, Medley, and Ballintubbert House and Gardens, and Kim Arazi, Founder of the sensory innovation company, Innosensi. The session was moderated by Arthur McGauran, General Manager of DMC, Custom Ireland.

Meet our SITE Week Ideation Session Scribe:

Mary Collins works within Ireland’s National Tourism Development Authority under the business unit of Meet in Ireland. Mary and the team at Meet in Ireland are tasked with growing the number of business events into Ireland.

Mary is also a very proud SITE Ireland board member.

The Power of Food

We all know that food plays a vital part in any programme or event. Through the simple act of getting people around a table, we start conversations, make connections, and create lifelong memories. Many destinations can have the best raw ingredients in the world. However, it is the warmth and uniqueness of experiences that turn these great natural larders into moments that are cherished forever.

But how do we continue to wow and inspire in an operational environment that is increasingly challenging? What will be the future of food and beverage experiences? These were the very questions that were posed, challenged, and discussed at length during our session.

Food as a Multi-Sensory Experience

What became apparent from the outset was that food and beverage experiences were already beginning to shift direction pre-COVID 19. Increasingly, people expect to engage in more than “just food.” They want to feel connected and engaged. This creates an incredible opportunity for us as experience creators!

Creating food experiences that include multi-sensory engagement through taste, touch, sound, and sight allows for a much deeper experience. Research and neuroscience have shown time and again that stimulating multiple senses at one time is how we learn. However, the rise of technology screen time use has created sensory deprivation in many of us!

So, what better way to wake and shake all our senses than food?! Experiences that include the thrill of unusual tastes, textures, sights and sounds.

People enjoying a Food Experience
Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Incorporating Meaningful Food Experiences

But how, as an industry, can we incorporate multi-sensory engagement into our programmes? Perhaps we should start with simple programme additions. For example, introduce an overarching theme to the food and beverage experience. Then, layer it up with music, poetry, art, and food presentation.

However, what about when we can’t meet around a physical table ? How can we bring that experience to our clients at home? How do we ensure we can be heard and experienced above the noise of everyday online activity? Quite simply, it can be done. But, it will require moving out of our comfort zones, and lots of ingenuity and creativity. However, anything is possible with the right mindset.

For example, over the last few months, we have seen many simple food and beverage innovations provide such joy to consumers across the world. ‘Dine at home’ food boxes have arrived on doorsteps from our favourite restaurants, and sommeliers have taught us wine pairings online. We have perfected the sourdough bread, with step by step online tutorials from our favourite bakers. Who is to say that we can’t replicate similar digital experiences for our clients?

Sourdough - a Food Experience boom
Photo by Fiona Smallwood on Unsplash

The Future of Food Experiences

Things move fast with modern technology. With food innovations such as 3D food printing, there will soon be even more opportunities to wow and mesmerise clients with quirky experiences to trick the senses. For example, imagine having a group of clients about to eat what looks like an apple only for it to taste like a pizza! There is so much experimentation and fun to be had!

We know our old norm has forever changed. Clients will not want “normal” food and beverage experiences. Once face to face experiences take place again, they will become even more special and more appreciated. COVID 19 has taught us is that we can change, adapt and most definitely, create stronger food and beverage experiences than ever before.

The future of food and beverage is no longer just about fine food and drinks – it is about bringing art, music, taste, people and energy all together for a magic moment in time. It is up to us as experience creators to embrace this, and bring these worlds together in the most memorable and creative of ways.

Written by Mary Collins, Meet in Ireland

SITE Week Ideation Session Series

SITE Week saw SITE Global hosting 46 Ideation Sessions over the course of 2 days, 2 times zones, and catering to over 1500 registrations. The idea was simple – facilitated brain-storming to help prepare for the road ahead, collaborating through the sharing of thoughts, insights and perspectives from across the globe, while celebrating the togetherness of the larger SITE community. Each session was attended by a scribe, tasked with the articulation of his/her thoughts into a thought-provoking and informative article as a summation of their takeaways from the session.