The Importance of a Good Meal
November 25th, 2012
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. -Virginia Woolf
Food is a vital part of the human experience, and as such it is a vital part of the conference experience. Maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe all of the emphasis should be on education, networking and professional improvement. That’s what we are there for after all. But, we live in the real world, and even if you plan the very best conference agenda in the world, a poorly executed meal can still leave attendees unhappy with your event.
A few years ago I attended a convention that knocked my socks off. They utilized social networking flawlessly, had big name speakers, and a found a stunning venue. Even the entertainment, which can often miss the mark, was lively and exciting. Everyone at the event seemed to be thoroughly impressed…until dinner. I don’t think I’ll ever forget looking around at the faces of my fellow conference-goers as they ate their bland, overcooked, clearly recently defrosted cut of chicken. Now, I’m sure that many conference attendees elected to go to the event the following year, but I’ll bet that there were also a handful of them who reflected on their meal and thought, “I don’t think that was worth my $395 registration fee…”
I recently attended a healthcare conference where the theme was healthy living. In keeping with that theme, the event organizers decided to serve healthy options to attendees. This meant doing away with many classic conference staples – sugary doughnuts, bagels, high-fat/high sodium entrees, etc. Instead they served fresh fruit, blueberry muffins, artisan sandwiches, and even gourmet popcorn. All came from local sources and all were so delicious that no one even realized they were eating healthily. Long after I forget the details of the presentations or the names of speakers, I will remember that the organization was able to stay true to their “healthy living” theme while serving wonderful food.
There is a reason food is central to all of our major celebrations. Imagine Thanksgiving without a turkey, Christmas without cookies, a birthday with cake. Food brings us together. It’s part of our shared culture. Part of our identity. I think this is part of what I love so much about Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. They really understand the importance of sharing a quality meal with good company.