2013 Food and Beverage Trends

What’s hot in 2013 Food and Beverage Trends? We did our research, found the best of the best, and are looking to incorporate these ideas into our client’s meetings and events! There’s no doubt that outstanding events encompass great tasting and visually appealing food and beverage. And every year, the planner du jour seeks to create an appealing color palate filled with edible art. Here are just a few morsels of ideas…

Eggs – They’re not just for breakfast anymore! Duck eggs are the new Chicken Eggs and these golden beauties can be fried, scrambled, poached, boiled, baked and steamed.  They can be served as is, in baked goods or part of a main dish.  Eggs are a natural complete protein and can be locally produced.

Tearific Teas – Complete with equipment, techniques and tons of varieties, tea is a creative, tasty and economical way to please your guests.  White, green, oolong, black, fermented, tisanes, even though all tea comes from the same plant, there are hundreds of kinds of teas unique with their own appearance, taste and aroma.

SmokingAnd we don’t mean tobacco.  Smokers are all the rage providing everything from smoked meats and fish (including crab and lobster) to nuts, spices and rubs.  Combinations of woods, juices, vanilla beans and herbs can turn simple cuts of meat from ordinary to extraordinary.

And for the next course – Bread. That’s right, bread has always been a part of the overall program, but we’re talking bread so good that it has it’s own course.  Nut and seed coated caramel wheat rolls, warm sourdough buns served with garlic butter, rosemary bread and dipping oil.  The dinner roll has grown up and they’re ridiculously good.

Blondies are the new Brownies!  Otherwise known as simply a lighter brownie, today the Blondie is a dessert snob’s number one choice, and chef’s have made them their own…the dirty blonde with peanut butter and toffee, the slutty blonde that includes a layer of golden Oreo’s, even the nutty blonde with pecans and frosting.

What would you add to this list of 2013 Food and Beverage trends?

PEC Employee Spotlight: Meet Kaitlyn

Each month, we like to recognize and highlight an internal employee on our blog. PEC wants you to know the names and faces behind our walls, since these are the people that work daily for the betterment of our services for our clients. In today’s PEC Employee Spotlight you’ll meet Kaitlyn.

employee spotlight

Name: Kaitlyn Herbst
Position: Event Coordinator

What point in the event planning process is your favorite?
I like the creative proposal stage. It’s fun to research and pull together ideas to present to clients. Anytime we get to brainstorm colors and themes is a fun day.

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?
I enjoy refurbishing wood furniture and making any crafty wall decor. Stripping paint is my least favorite part of a project, but once I get to sanding and painting or staining I really start to have fun. There is satisfaction in taking something old and creating something unique to my taste that I can use.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? (Given that your family or friends would be there too).
I’m pretty fond of home (here) and I’m really looking forward to my first summer in Milwaukee. I don’t think I would ever leave for long, but an extended stay in Ireland or New Zealand would be a dream.

What cooking or baking dish are you known for?
Chocolate sour cream cookies (now Greek Yogurt Cookies) with Andes mint chips. They taste like meltaways and are delicious! They are probably one of the things in life that I don’t stay humble about. It’s my Grandma’s recipe, which you can never beat.  The secret ingredient (according to her)… 1 cup of love!

If you weren’t working in events, what would you be doing?
I would be working in a health/fitness related field. I would probably take my coordinating skills and apply them to creating nutrition and fitness plans for clients.

Name one interesting fact about yourself!
I can be indecisive…I attended 3 colleges in 4.5 years to obtain 1 degree. Or I have a traveling scarf with me two best friends who have lived in different parts of the world at given times. It has been to more countries than me, but it has mainly resided in Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Seattle, WA and Miskolc, Hungary. It currently resides in the Chicago area.

Celebrating 10 Years in Business

We have exciting news: We are celebrating 10 years in business! March 17, 2013 marks the 10 year anniversary for Professional Events and Consulting down to the day. 10 years ago, Cheryl McShane, owner and president, filed the paperwork to make Professional Events and Consulting an official business. This week, we are celebrating 10 years of hard work, doing what we love, and success.

To make our celebration official, our team came together for a delicious soup + salad lunch in the office this past Wednesday. To top it off, we made sure to make homemade shamrock shakes in the office as well! With full and happy stomachs, we congratulated owners Cheryl McShane and Denice Waldhuetter for their huge accomplishment.

shamrock shake

We want to make sure to thank everyone who has contributed to our success along the way. From our valued clients, trustworthy suppliers, and reliable industry partners to our supportive families and friends – thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We have been blessed to work with each and every one of you along the way.

As we head into our 11th year in business, we have many exciting new changes taking place that we can’t reveal quite yet. Stay tuned to our blog for an announcement within the next few weeks!


Hosting a Meeting in the Midwest

Not considering hosting a meeting in the Midwest? Read this first.

Having been raised in Wisconsin, I was often asked, “Where do you want to live when you grow up?” My mind never wandered to distant places. My desires were not to have warm sand beneath my feet all year long or to experience the big city lights to the east. My real unanswered question was – could I ever leave? At this stage of my life, nearing my mid-twenties, the answer is yes, I could.  However, would I really want to? I have always been a Wisconsinite. I have traveled throughout the United States and to Eastern Europe, but my heart always remains in the Midwest.

I recently moved to Milwaukee – the biggest city I have lived in. This city has a way of connecting with my heart. The connection one experiences when listening to music, I feel walking the streets of downtown. With the big city lights overhead, I still feel my small town roots. As a young adult, moving here was easy. The people, young and old, are friendly, motivated and driven.  There are more cultures than I have experienced in a lifetime and weekend upon weekend there are festivals to celebrate those specific cultures. The atmosphere is one that I would describe as eclectic. There is always a new restaurant or pub to check off the list, or for the knowledge hungry, ever changing museum exhibits.

Other big cities in the Midwest such as Chicago, Indianapolis and Minneapolis provide much of the same. Opportunities in these cities to experience art and culture are endless. For a meeting planner, it is like being a kid in a candy store. Not only are the cities unique and entirely affordable, but the event venues offer a solid reason to visit. Long gone are the days where every reception is held in a ballroom. Here in the Midwest, venues provide diversity. Museums, warehouses, stadiums, theaters, union stations and other unique venues have become common sites to host events.

As a leading event planning agency in the Midwest, PEC encourages our clients to think outside the box and to give their guests an unforgettable experience. We have planned extraordinary conferences and galas for clients at venues such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Target Field in Minneapolis, and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

If you have an upcoming event, the region I call home has everything to offer!

This post was written by Kaitlyn Herbst, Event Coordinator at PEC.

feature image source

Instagram for Events

With over 80 million registered users, Instagram is an ever-growing smart phone application (app) in which users can snap, customize, and share photos instantly with their social network. Instagram has the capability to share photos in real-time with a particular audience at a particular time. If Instagram does not sound like an app that would be extremely useful in the events world, look a little harder. This app has the potential to change events for the better.

The first step in boosting attendance for an event lies in event promotion and marketing. Although there are several ways and mediums used to promote events, Instagram is one specific way that can be used to make an impact on potential attendees pre-event. As a meeting or event planner, consider taking pictures on-site during event set up to capture the process of the event coming together. Share these “behind the scenes” photos with a social audience and allow potential attendees to feel hype around the start of the event. In this way, you become an exclusive provider of insider information.

So what’s the big idea behind Instagram for events?
Instagram for Events

Instagram works well in marketing an event ahead of time, but it can also be used to engage attendees during the event. Consider this: how are you bringing together everything that is said and posted about your event into one place or feed? The answer should be a hashtag. Having event attendees use a common hashtag allows for all communication to be processed through one specific feed. In this way, you’re combining Instagram photos from 10s, 100s, or even thousands of event attendees in one feed that allows everyone both at or not at the event to view. A hashtag creates a sense of community as individuals scroll through other’s photos to see what other opportunities the event holds.

Finally, consider how Instagram assists your company in reminding event attendees of the event’s call-for-action when used in correlation with your event. Since users can go back and revisit their old photos, they are likely to look back on the Instagram pictures taken at your event in the future and the photo once again brings the event initiatives to front of mind for those individuals.

Since event attendees will not know about your Instagram usage and campaign, it is vital to communicate the use of Instagram both before and during your event. Make sure to choose a hashtag prior to the event that can be used by both your company as well as the event attendees. Communicate that hashtag in all invitations and pre-event communication materials. During the event, use well-placed signage, verbal announcements, and a projected live Instagram feed to ensure that attendees are well informed of the opportunity to share photos with one another. The app can even be used to run photo contests through for the ultimate attendee interaction.

Implementing Instagram for events does not need to be difficult, it simply takes planning and smart communication with attendees.

This post was written by PEC’s Marketing Coordinator Molly Rasmussen.

How to: Fill Hotel Room Blocks

Your convention is months away and you have established a hotel room block, but how do you keep attendees from reserving a room outside your room block? This is a primary concern of many meeting planners, as the need to fill room blocks is vital to the overall success of the convention or meeting.

“What’s in it for me?” That is what the attendee is asking when they see hotel information on their registration site. Your attendee’s need to reserve a hotel room for your event, but how do you convince them to reserve a room within your room block?

As the meeting planner, you must ensure that you are creating  a hotel contract with minimal risk for your event by starting with a reasonable room block and the necessary clauses to protect your company. Not reaching your room block means owing the hotel attrition, which has the potential to add up to thousands of dollars if you are not careful.

Here are some tricks to provide incentive for your attendees to reserve a room within your room block:

  • Negotiate the lowest rate possible and hold the hotel to not publishing a lower rate over your event dates.
  • Offer a discount on registration for the attendee’s that book at the hotel.  It could be a discount on the hotel itself or one of the sessions or socials.
  • Offer a “VIP” reception at the hotel on the first day of the event for just those booked through the block.
  • Attendees may want to see a cash value or some sort of discount associated with the hotel.  Try working with the hotel to offer something complimentary like breakfast, drink vouchers or free Wi-Fi.
  • Get your local CVB involved. Most CVB’s can put together a welcome packet full of discounts at local attractions or restaurants that can be put in your hotel welcome packet.
  • Enter attendees into a raffle for a cash prize if they book within the block.
  • You can work with your registration system as well. Determine if they have the capability to disable registration for the event unless they see your reservation at the hotel first.
  • Increase registration by a certain dollar amount if they book their sleeping rooms outside the room block.

Given all of these incentives, your attendees may still book outside your room block for various reasons. In this case, place a clause into your hotel contract that allows you to audit your attendees. The hotel will use your attendee list from the event and compare it to those attendees that booked at the hotel over your event dates. You can pick up those few attendees that did not register through your block but still stayed at the hotel.