The Future of Experiential Hospitality



As all of us at Access prepare for the return of in-person trade shows, we are reaching out to one of our trusted partners, Crêpes à Latte, for a look into the future of experiential hospitality at exhibits.

Experiential hospitality goes beyond simply serving food in an exhibit or at an event. Experiential hospitality is customer and brand-centric, tying and enhancing the marketing message. Trained staff carries the message through engagement practices, and hospitality seamlessly integrates with the entire in-person experience. In the past few weeks, live, in-person events are returning to the tradeshow floor. But trade show in-booth experiential hospitality will be slightly different now than it was before COVID. Both attendees and exhibitors are now much more aware of health and safety practices to prevent the spread of illness during large-scale events. So now, more than ever, it is essential that you are ready to provide memorable in-booth hospitality with everyone’s safety in mind. There are three crucial things exhibitors should keep in mind when planning hospitality options for their exhibits:

  1. best health and safety practices
  2. attendee comfort level
  3. brand enhancement

Health and Safety are Top Priority

Health and safety should always be a top priority with any hospitality service. In a post-COVID environment, best health practices are more important than ever. One way to show clients and attendees you are keeping their health in mind is with The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC)’s GBAC STAR Accreditation, the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response, and recovery accreditation for facilities. This certification means your company has shown that you have established and maintained a cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention program to minimize risks associated with infectious agents like COVID-19. The accreditation also recognizes that you have the proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques, and work practices in place to prepare, respond, and recover from outbreaks and pandemics. Make sure your experiential hospitality partner has GBAC certification.

Attendee Comfort Levels Have Shifted

According to Morning Consult, as of June 2021, about 70% of Americans feel more comfortable eating outside their homes and dining at restaurants. This is a tremendous improvement from the 30% who felt comfortable at the beginning of 2020. Despite this positive trend, safety, trust, and familiarity are still major concerns for event attendees regarding food and beverage consumption. While single-serve packaging is no longer the priority it was 12-months ago, consumers remain wary of buffets and food items that are not fresh-prepared or sealed. They are avoiding brands or operators they don’t perceive as safe. They also care more about how items are made. Exhibitors build trust between their brands and attendees by being transparent about ingredients and preparation techniques for food and beverage items.

Positive Experiences Strengthen Brand Relationships

Creating memorable in-booth food and beverage experiences that connect customers and brands when the stakes are high is the goal of experiential hospitality. During the COVID quarantine, consumers shared their food experiences from home on social media and at virtual events, reinforcing the connection between food and positive interactive experiences, even when participants are miles apart. By including hospitality at live events, you build trust among your exhibit visitors; you communicate company values, complement your event message, and create shared experiences. Professional hospitality staff trained in your brand’s goals can also act as an extension of your brand when interacting with attendees to deliver on your objectives.

Crêpes à Latte has been an experiential hospitality provider for over 20 years. Each year, we support over 120 clients and fulfill 700+ specialty orders. Our team of 100+ professional event staff helps us support these hospitality services every year. In 2019 our team provided hospitality at over 200+ tradeshows, averaging more than seven services a day.