7 Mar 2016

Awareness and communication are key in preventing organic food waste !

When we meet, we eat. The Belgium Chapter welcomed almost 40 participants at their "Reducing and sorting food waste" workshop in Brussels. In this article we highlight how to avoid food waste before your event by tackling the issue of no-shows, and what you can do with leftovers when you have some.

Raising awareness

It is clear that no-shows are still a major issue in our industry and the first step to undertake is to raise awareness. In 2009, MPI Belgium was one of three initiators of the "Don't Spoil the Party" initiative together with ACC Belgium and EMA Society. The initiative created a video which highlights the issue of no-shows and food waste, and encourages organizers to use the ''Spoilman''-logo on their invitation.  

Communication is key

Even when pre-registration is required, the number of no-show is still between 10-30% (roughly estimated % of no-shows, based on numbers shared at the workshop). Time to optimise our attendee registration and communication! In your registration form, let people indicate which food functions they will be attending (Welcome coffee, Lunch, Drinks reception) and don't forget to ask about dietary restrictions. 

Before your event, send attendees a personalized reminder about the food functions they signed up for and ask them to inform you if they are no longer able to attend one of the activities. If you're dealing with a smaller group, why not send out an SMS or What's App Broadcast campaign.

Make sure your registration system allows attendees to edit their registration information close to the event, and keep reminding attendees about "Don't spoil the party" throughout your event communications.

During your event, use an online check-in system so you can track how many people are in the venue. Give the latest update to the caterer and don’t forget to mention those with dietary requirements. To keep raising awareness, take and share photos of the organic waste at your event during and after the event. 

After the event, analyse who didn't show up and communicate with them directly. Send them a follow-up message and add them on your (private) "flagged list" so you can get in touch with them next time they register. 

Analysing the demographics of your no-shows will give you an idea of who is more likely not to attend; and by looking at historical patterns of how different demographics actually consume at food functions, you can adjust the amount of food being served.  

Penalty

It is clear from the numbers that no-shows increase when an event is free to attend, even when pre-registration is required. MPI Belgium struggled with this, and has implemented a “no-show fine” for free events. By combining a penalty fee and reminding attendees of regularly, numbers of no-shows have dropped exponentially.

Don’t spoil

In our sector it is most likely to always have food waste at the end of the day. So start to think about implementing initiatives such as a ‘doggy bag’ for attendees, and look for your local FSE network and local donation opportunities. To reduce the non-organic waste from your catering, look for initiatives such as edible serving cups.

The MPI Belgium Chapter is currently talking with food surplus entrepreneurs and zero waste initiatives to continue reducing the negative environmental impact of their Chapter events. Join the Global Meetings Industry Day Belgium on 14/04 in Brussels to learn more.

Find out more about Meetings Go Green, and contact VP Education Mieke Barbé with your best practices, favorite initiatives and suppliers. Follow her Pinterest boards on Event Catering and Event Zero-waste & Sustainability for inspiration.

 

Mieke Barbé - VP Education, MPI Belgium
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