Health and Nutrition Award
Sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions
2014 Winner: InterContinental Hotels Group
Competition for the meetings and events market is fierce and finding a unique selling point is vital in order to maximise revenue opportunities.
Coming up with a marketable initiative that also supports a firm's responsible hospitality credentials while at the same time driving sales is an ambitious target, but IHG has cracked it. The Food for Thought philosophy was introduced following wider company research that identified two global consumer trends for food products and services with added health and wellbeing benefits and a growing public interest in food provenance and production.
It focuses on a menu offer that supports concentration, work performance and energy levels - all crucial ingredients for a successful business meeting.
Dishes contain a limited amount of refined carbohydrates, and instead feature healthier alternatives such as quinoa and whole grains alongside a larger selection of proteins and oily fish.
IHG's meetings food is freshly cooked, with reduced salt levels, limited saturated fats and no trace of trans fats, while desserts are served in bite-sized portions to limit sugar intake, with yogurt substituted for cream. And for those that want to graze, nuts, seeds and dried fruits are available to guests throughout the day to maintain their energy levels. Special diets such as gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and common allergies are catered for in order to offer all delegates an equally exciting and nutritious lunch experience.
Just as important as the ideas behind Food for Thought is the level of staff training that has gone into ensuring engaged and knowledgeable teams are on hand to deliver it. IHG employees are given a pocket-sized booklet filled with nutritional information that allows them to confidently answer questions about the menu. And to hone the idea that healthy eating can be achieved in the home as well, delegates have the opportunity to pick up recipes for their favourite dishes of the day.
Thanks to this innovative healthy eating concept, customer satisfaction is on the up. Food for Thought has led to a 15% increase in Venue Verdict Scores for Food & Beverage and, perhaps more impressively, also grown revenue.
Combined with the refurbishment of a Holiday Inn meetings space, Food for Thought has driven day delegate rates up as much as 50%. On top of that, it was awarded an official accreditation from Food for Brain, a non-profit charity dedicated to promoting the benefits of healthy eating and brain functions. But arguably the most significant outcome and telling endorsement of the health conscious food offer is a plan to offer it to IHG's own teams in the company's staff restaurants.
What the judges said "It was refreshing to see an idea that helps delegates get more out of a conference or meeting by eating well. Giving people healthy options that help keep them alert through the day makes huge business sense. No biscuits in sight!"
"This is a great initiative, targeting an area that is very challenging but critical if we are to see a change in public health status."
Shortlisted Bartlett Mitchell
InterContinental Hotels Group
The judges Caroline Fry, CEO, CH&Co
Diana Hawdon, Public health nutritionist/dietitian, Hope Nutrition
Gary Hunter, Head of faculty for hospitality and culinary arts, Westminster Kingsway College
Mark Linehan, managing director, Sustainable Restaurant Association
Nicky Martin Head of nutrition, Compass Group UK & Ireland
Fiona McCullough Honorary secretary, The British Dietetic Association