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Meeting & Event Planning

Ask an Event Planner: Food Labeling and Sponsorships

Posted July 2, 2018 By Phoenix Anna Porcelli, CMP

Time for another installment in our mailbag series, “Ask an Event Planner!” Got a question for Phoenix? Submit it here and we’ll answer it next time!



Phoenix Anna Porcelli, CMP, is an event planning professional with over a decade of meeting and event experience in Boston, Paris, and NYC. 


I’m looking for tips on food signage. I’m working for a fairly new banquet facility and they’re looking for a new way to let guests know what the food is and certain information like gluten free, vegan, etc. – Sara in Allentown, PA

When it comes to food labeling, more is better. If you have the space, list out as many ingredients as possible—SAFETY FIRST. It’s hard to anticipate specific food allergies, and they vary so much person to person, your best bet is to list everything in a particular dish.

The FDA considers milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans as “major food allergens,” accounting for 90 percent of all food allergies. At a minimum, you’ll need to clearly label items containing these ingredients.

Walk your buffet with your onsite contact (or client) before the program to ensure food is labeled properly. Make sure your labels are clear, visible, and consistent—allergy labels aren’t the time to get cute. At Convene we use small label cards next to each dish on a serving station with clearly visible and easy to understand labels.




It’s essential to solicit dietary restrictions on conference or event registration forms so that the venue can plan for any anticipated food allergies. That being said, it’s always good to ensure that the following items are integrated into your menu:

  • Vegetarian options (not just green salad)
  • Vegan options
  • Gluten free options


How can I better monetize exhibitors and sponsors for my event?

Sponsorships can help reduce cost for attendees, and it’s a win-win because it helps drive exposure and audience for your partners. But how do you keep people from walking past exhibitors with their heads down and create value for your sponsors?

We’ve all seen the traditionally sponsorship elements at an event like coffee cups, beverage napkins, sponsored meal periods, sponsored receptions, but there are so many more ways to take this to the next level.

Depending on what your venue will allow, space can be customized to allow for branding. Exhibitors and sponsors can do more than just create a booth or tabletop, but truly transform space to their own.

Another fresh idea: go beyond the tabletop. Consider alternative setups for your exhibitor hall like high cocktail tables instead of standard 6-foot table. This will remove the barrier between exhibitors and attendees and facilitate conversations and networking. Host as many meal periods as possible in the vicinity of your exhibitors, as this will generate traffic and add value.

Consider curated experiences. Have sponsors host a more intimate VIP breakfast or activity in which attendees and the sponsor company can learn a new skill together or network one on one. Instead of just hosting a reception, bring in a mixologist in which attendees and sponsors can learn to make a great cocktail together.


Have a question you want answered? Submit it here, and we’ll answer it in a future installment!



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