Prevue asked Michelle Polci, Director of Catering, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas, her thoughts on F&B trends.
Q: What trends are you seeing with group banquets?
A: For a while, people were scaling back and taking a “less is more” approach to banquets. But I think now we’re starting to see it shift back a bit and customers are looking for innovative, fun and stylish events that are really memorable for their attendees. That doesn’t mean that planners don’t still need to stick to a budget, but there seems to be more of an eye towards celebrating successes.
Q: Is the farm-to-fork trend continuing to grow with your groups?
A: The majority of our customers—whether they’re meeting in Las Vegas or Atlantic City or Lake Tahoe—want their event to embrace the food and culture of the destination to create an overall experience that capitalizes on what is unique about it. Having properties throughout the U.S. allows us to create menus that are regionally inspired. In some of our markets where there is an abundance of resources in terms of locally produced products, that can mean a true farm-to-fork approach.
Q: How is the gala dinner group experience evolving?
A: A gala, by definition, is a festive celebration, and most of our groups are looking at every detail to find ways to take it to the next level while still getting the best value. Careful consideration of the details—things like furnishings, florals, linens, color choices and being on-trend when it comes to these finer points—is a must.
Many people are embracing the concept of understated elegance as a way to present an event that feels classy and special without being excessive or imprudent. One of the best ways to achieve this balance can be to look at the food in a new light. A challenge that planners of galas often face is the need to please a large number of people with diverse tastes. Taking a chance on a trendy food item can backfire if too many of the attendees are put off. But taking classic items and presenting them in creative non-traditional ways can help create a sense of specialness.
Q: Are you adding interactive components to F&B events?
A: Nothing beats the smell, look and engagement of action stations. Additionally, more and more attendees are considering themselves food experts, and like to interact directly with the chefs who are preparing their food in front of them. We’re also seeing an increase in the use of entertainment as part of the food displays or décor.