A Magical Conference
You may remember some of my emails from last year around this time which came to you from a conference in Nashville. The Association of Club Catering Professionals hosts their annual conference at the end of August. 2017 marks their 6th year. There could not be a more perfect spot for club catering and F&B professionals to expand their knowledge than in Napa, CA.
We stayed at the Silverado Resort & Spa. Once participants checked in, they interacted with the top vendors and creative partners in the industry, learning about new products and trends to help them plan extraordinary events in their clubs. After our opening session with motivational speaker Patrick Snow, we networked and renewed friendships at the welcome party. This was held in the in Silverado’s Grove, out under the trees. The party offered great ideas for utilizing tucked away spaces on the grounds and setting up intimate seating arrangements outdoors.
Monday proved to be the most special day. The legendary Gregg Patterson energized the group in the morning education session. Then we loaded up the buses for our off site education. Our first stop was Sterling Vineyards. After a tour with tastings, and breathtaking views, we enjoyed lunch on the lower lawn. The picnic table arrangement made conversation easy, casual and fun. Blankets with umbrellas and pillows, spruced up the shady spots under the trees.
We then had the privilege of attending a half day at the Culinary Institute of America. The four educational sessions included:
- Craft Cocktails – Bringing in the Kitchen
- Unique Food & Wine Pairing
- Front of the House Hospitality Training
- The Physiology of Taste and Texture.
It was a privilege to sit in those classrooms even for a brief moment, knowing that so many around the world dream of the opportunity.
Monday night ended with a very special experience at Beringer Vineyards, California’s oldest, continually operating winery. Our group was granted access to the wine caves. Beringer was the first to operate using hand-dug caves and cellars. We meandered downstairs to the garden, under gorgeous trees, fairy lights and candles to enjoy an exquisite dinner. The service at Beringer was impeccable. It was clear that their kitchen was quite far from the garden, but the service was timely and the food, uncompromised.
Tuesday, the final day of the conference was all onsite and packed with education on topics all across the board a little something for everyone. We first heard from Blaine Burgess, CCM, CCE, The Country Club of Little Rock. His topic, Creating a Collaborative Environment with Your F&B Team and Club Management was well received by the group. One of the many meaningful points he made was that internally, we don’t talk together often enough. We send emails and texts back and forth and that behavior can lead to tension and misunderstanding. Blaine suggest we participate in a one-week challenge where staff cannot email or text each other, all communication would be face to face. I would love for your team to give his challenge a try!
Mastermind sessions followed Blaine’s excellent education. And with 20 minutes in each session, participants brainstormed answers to questions such as:
- How do you get members to RSVP in a timely fashion?
- What are your club’s Member Traditions?
- What are you doing to attract new wedding business and compete with current trends?
- What is your most profitable togaed market for private events?
You would be amazed how many ideas were being tossed around the table! Catering folks are supremely talented!!!
After a Unicorn Break – yes, you read that correctly! A Unicorn Break includes sweet treats, photo ops (complete with unicorn horns and “You are Magical” signs) and extended conversations. This lends another unique way to offer members breaks during corporate events or a fun station set up at weddings. A second break included a more patriotic theme, which was perfect as we approach Labor Day weekend.
Then it came time for my session, Always Have Something to Say!; How to create relative & impactful content for your members. I appreciated the audience interaction and the questions, which lets me know the topic resonated. I shared with them several topics of content they could develop and share through the club’s website and blog, newsletters, email and social media. Have to give you all a shout out and say THANK YOU for being such a fun audience.
I could not wait for our Sensory Lunch with the Wine Militia. We were able to identify what type of tasters we are (I’m a super taster, sensitive taste buds), and experience pairings which were meant to be borderline tasty. Some found the food and wine pairing wonderful, others didn’t agree. And so Wine Militia Founder, Lamar Engel taught us how to better approach food and beverage pairings and menus, given the type of tasters we are. This will help catering teams offers menus that wow members and guests even more than before!
Following lunch, we enjoyed breakout sessions, led by
- Gregg Patterson, Tribal Magic: Mystery Basket Event Creation
- Robin Brockelsby, Creative Coverings President: The Art of Upselling Event Decor
- Jill Philmon, CCM, CCE, Ballantyne Country Club: Have them at “Hello”… How to Grow Yourself and Your Department
- Chris Buck, Hanook Tea: The Healing Powers of Nature
The breakout sessions tested our creativity but also provided tangible tips for self improvement – personally and professionally.
The conference closed with Alan Berg, CSP, speaker and expert on the business of weddings & events. He provided 8 Tips for Better Conversation to Better Conversion. Alan always offers very practical advice, and in the closing session, I think I can safely say that we all will be sending much more effective emails and having more productive conversations with members and clients!
The ACCP conference is not complete without a stunning farewell party. On the front lawn of the Silverado Resort & Spa, the magic continued with glowing orbs, and nature-inspired decor. A green wall that came alive with silver-gloved hands offering wines, a dessert table alive with a beautiful fairy and a very tall and photogenic tree man, made the event unique and special. This was a learn-by-doing moment. The event touched all the senses and brought a delightful end to a purely magical experience.
I hope you will be inspired by this re-cap, the photos and your catering team members who attended. Something really special happens when this group comes together, which is why we always look forward to next year.
Want to learn more about the Association of Club Catering Professionals? Visit their website or contact Founder & Exec Director, Lynne LaFond DeLuca (firstname.lastname@example.org), who many of you have likely met through her work with CMAA and ClubCorp. She and I go way back to my days as the Member Relations Director at City Club Los Angeles. She is a dynamic individual who wants to equip your team with the best ideas and the knowledge to be able plan and execute extraordinary events for your members.
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