I recently reposted a photograph on Facebook from an event designer that I follow. https://www.facebook.com/KinghamSignatureEvents It was a new twist on pigs in a blanket. It was the shape of fish made out of the dough and the hot dog inside, as if the fish had just eaten it! What a clever idea, and seeing the appetizes all lined up on a platter really was impactful and made me smile and giggle.
What made this creative food offering such a great idea was the fact that it was building human connections amongst the guests whether intended or not. Can you imagine standing in a business networker, enjoying conversation with someone you just met, and talking a bit uncomfortably on what you do for a living? You’re working hard to be engaged and learn more about the other person, it could be a good contact. As the conversation continues, a server walks up with a tray of these fish-shaped pastries and you both chuckle at the offering. Of course, once you learn it’s a twist on pig in a blanket you each take one.
Now the ho-hum conversation has turned into a much brighter conversation about what you’re both eating, and memories you had as a child eating the traditional pigs in a blanket. It lightened the moment and then allowed each of you to have a more human connection with each other sharing a new experience together. Creating a strategic event experience makes guest comfortable to be more open to new possibilities and builds an affinity for the host/organization. Why? Because guests can feel you care enough to create something different for them to enjoy. While I’m not sure if this particular event designer strategically thought through the impact it would have on their event in regards to building human connections, but I’m sure it did and that’s why it was shared on Facebook.
Food is at the center of most events, so why not be strategic in your offerings. If you’re planning an event for your company or yourself, think about the impact you want to create with your food offerings. Does the food fit your brand? Does the food help to bring people together? What is the best food presentation based on my event goals to build a human connections? Does my food selections align with the overall design of the event? These are just a few questions that you need to ask yourself, whether it’s cocktails for a few or a fundraising dinner for 2,000.
To emphasize my point, I recently attended a sales workshop where the instructor shared a story about a high-end wine salesman in France that he recently met. He was a door-to-door salesman selling $150 bottles of wine and he was the most successful salesman in his company. When asked about his success, the salesman said he wasn’t selling wine, he was selling an experience. His prospects bought the wine not necessarily because it was a great bottle of vino, but because they wanted their friends to feel important, loved and most of all appreciated when they served the wine at their next dinner party. Wow! That’s a strategy that anyone designing an event should consider. Create an experience with the purpose of making sure your guests feel important, loved and most of all appreciated. If you do, it will elevate your audience and help build human connections to your brand. Just this simple purpose statement will ensure that you as a designer examine all the possibilities with your food offerings and beyond. Next time you design an event, be sure to be strategic about your food offerings, it’s more important than you may think!