Food For Thought: Holiday Inn benefits from healthier conference menu

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Holiday inn, Intercontinental hotels group

The new Food For Thought menu has been rolled out across the 61-strong Holiday Inn estate
The new Food For Thought menu has been rolled out across the 61-strong Holiday Inn estate
The new conference menus implemented across the Holiday Inn estate have been ‘the icing on the cake’ when it comes to the brand’s increased focus on the MICE market, with research revealing a significant increase in mental competence among delegates that ate the healthier food items.

The ‘Mindfuel Experiment’, conducted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Food Research Centre, looked at the effects of different meetings food on delegates at the same day-long conference. It revealed a 20 per cent increase in the cognitive ability of those having Holiday Inn’s 'Food For Thought' menu, as opposed to those eating traditional meetings food.

David Taylor, head of meetings and events for Holiday Inn’s parent company InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), told BigHospitality: “We recognised that our meetings menus had been fairly static for some time - most menus were a bit carbohydrate-heavy. Food For Thought has been independently accredited by Food for the Brain – that’s an industry first and I think it really means something.

“The menu’s been rolled out across the 61-strong Holiday Inn estate and we wanted to see whether we could actually see the tangible effects of this healthier food on different groups of delegates – the results were incredibly encouraging.”

Video: Holiday Inn’s Mindfuel Experiment

As shown in the above video, delegates were split into two groups and fed throughout the day, with four cognitive tests undertaken. One group was served food from a traditional meetings menu and the other was fed the new Holiday Inn Food For Thought menu, which includes homemade soups, wholewheat cous-cous and roasted vegetable wraps.

Speaking of the results, Manchester Metropolitan University’s food science professor, Chris Smith, said: “The group eating traditional conference food experienced a slump in energy towards the end of the day whereas the Food For Thought group were able to concentrate for longer and were more aware and responsive.”

In the spotlight

This latest independent research into Holiday Inn’s Food For Thought menu is one of a number of steps the business-focused brand has taken to put MICE in the spotlight.  Just last month, BigHospitality reported on the multi-million-pound redesign of ‘The Academy’​ at Holiday Inn properties in Kensigton, Bloomsbury and Regent’s Park – following a trial of the revamped meetings offering at Holiday Inn Heathrow.

Repeat bookings

Explaining the decision to make Holiday Inn a market-leader in the meetings industry,​ Taylor added: “We recognised that the meetings sector had come under some pressure after the recession but we believed there would be a recovery in the economy and we needed to work very hard on the meetings product that we had and the service we delivered, so that we would be at the forefront of the meetings industry.

“We’ve significantly focused on our service offering and the way that we manage meetings. We’ve developed our product our product and we’ve now also been putting a lot of work into our food and beverage as well.

"The signs for us are very encouraging – at Holiday Inn Heathrow, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of meetings that we now do here and the repeat booking rate. And, across the estate, we’ve seen a higher level of enquiry than we’ve had for some time.

“Compared to 2013 we’re 6 per cent up on enquiry levels across all 61 hotels. We’re not back to where we once were in the meetings world but it certainly looks like the confidence is returning.”

MICE market growth

Last year we reported that IHG was looking to Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands as market-leaders in the meetings industry after all 14 properties in London secured accreditation from the Meetings Industry Association (MIA).

A number of other major hotel brands are also now placing an extra focus on the MICE market. As an indicator of this, the ‘ConferenceGroup’ website has seen a dramatic increase in the number of hotels signing up to its service, which its managing director believes is a sign of ‘increased confidence’ in the meetings market.

Holiday Inn’s Food For Thought Menu

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