Meetings and conventions aren’t ALL about attendees and exhibitors, from a planner’s point of view. We also have to consider the staff that work our events.
Recently, someone asked the MiForum group how they could explain to their staff that being required to eat dinner in their hotel room for 9 straight days is actually a good thing. It set off a firestorm of activity. And something interesting happened… EVERYONE who replied to the question agreed – being required to eat dinner in your hotel room for 9 straight days is not a good thing.
Here are my suggestions for staff meals – intended to keep energy and morale up over longer meetings.
- Feed staff a hearty breakfast on show site. Include a protein of some kind (I tend to include both eggs and a breakfast meat like ham or sausage) as well as fruit. Don’t forget about any staff working the registration desk – you may need to send some bagels and fruit to the reg desk, if you’re not serving breakfast early enough to allow them to eat before registration opens.
- Keep snacks handy throughout the day in the staff office. Granola/protein/energy bars are great. Whole fruit is another hit. Some groups bring candy, gum, chips and crackers, too. If the venue has vending machines, this isn’t always necessary, but it’s a nice touch.
- Serve a satisfying lunch. Whether you allow staff to eat at an attendee function, bring the same meal into the staff office, or serve an entirely separate meal to staff, be sure to serve them something that will fill them up, but not slow them down. Chicken breast and turkey both have tryptophan, which is a natural amino acid that makes people sleepy. Try to avoid these meats during staff lunches.
- Give staff the night off. Whenever possible, allow staff to take their evening meal wherever they wish. Of course, receptions, VIP dinners and evening sessions can often prevent staff from having personal time in the evenings. But, if they have the night off, then give them the night off, and allow them to go to a nearby restaurant. A per diem sets limitations, and keeps costs in line. And, many staff will choose to take their meal in their room. But most will want to get out and see a bit of the city they’re in.
So, feed staff while they’re on the clock. When they’re off the clock, let them get out and enjoy themselves – they’ve worked hard for you!