The Science of Making F&B Experiences Memorable—Focus on the Five Senses

August 17, 2022

Allen Plante

Allen Plante is the director of banquets at the award-winning Radisson Blu Mall of America. With more than 25 years of event management experience, Plante and his team strive for innovation, creativity and readiness for each hosted event. Whether working on a high-profile event for Super Bowl LII or the Ryder Cup, or crafting an intimate, private celebration, Plante’s enthusiasm and expertise ensure each event is memorable and unique.

The meeting and events industry has seen a boom in requests to create memorable moments to celebrate being together again. As in-person events come back in a major way, we’ve found there are groups that have been saving up and now have large budgets to spend on over-the-top celebrations, and there are still many that have conservative budgets. Yet, they all have the same goal: to create something that is unique and feels luxurious. How do you do that? Focus on the power of all five senses.

Tapping into the senses means going beyond thinking about the food and beverage choices you offer. Consider how the event elements can work together to stimulate all of your guests’ senses. 

1. Taste 

At the heart of most gatherings is food. Push yourself to find new ways to allow guests to experience flavor. This could be taking a standard meal and having every element feature unique local flavors, or creating an experience where guests can learn about the foods they’re tasting by adding an educational component.  

We have a break option called “The Spreads,” which treats guests to a variety of local jams, jellies, marmalades and preserves while providing an opportunity to learn what makes them all different. The educational piece immerses guests in the taste experience by allowing them to understand the flavors and textures they are enjoying in a memorable way. 

2. Touch

Touch can be one of the most impactful ways to make a gathering feel high-end. Thinking through the vessels for your food and beverage and how they’ll feel in guests’ hands can elevate any menu. For our popular “Gut Health Breaks,” centered on the trending theme of foods to promote gut health and immunity, we use paper, wood, garden glass and cast iron vessels to stimulate the touch sense and present a natural, earthy feel that closely relates to the idea of health. 

3. Smell

When I smell cookies baking in the oven, it takes me back to my grandma’s kitchen. With such a powerful ability to immediately trigger a detailed memory or intense emotion, smell is an important piece of the puzzle for menu creation. What feelings do we hope to evoke? How can we spark curiosity among guests? And, most importantly, how can we use aroma to get guests excited about the foodand hopefully solidify a memory in the process?

Stimulating the sense of smell can even be done for breaks or meals where there isn’t something being served that provides a distinctive smell. For example, for the “Gut Health Break,” we serve items such as kombucha, yogurts, berries, nuts and avocado spread—items that don’t have an inherent aroma. For this option, we add touches of lemongrass and other fragrant herbs to incorporate an aromatic element that gives the sensation of being outdoors and in nature. 

4. Sight 

How things look is another essential event element. Paying special attention to the details creates an exciting atmosphere for guests and Instagram-worthy displays.

Think outside the box to create a stunning visual experience. This could be something like our “Torched in the Morning” oatmeal brulee station that features chefs adorned with face shields and butcher-like aprons using flames (very visual!) to create oatmeal dishes, all with a graffiti backdrop. These elements make the moment feel trendy and urban, crafting an experience you wouldn’t necessarily expect at breakfast. 

5. Sound 

The simple act of adding music and sound can bring soul to your event and round out the experience for guests. This could be a garden playlist for a healthy snack break, or urban, street music for something like our “Torched in the Morning” breakfast offering. And, it’s even better if you can find music that directly plays into the theme. One of our favorites is “Don’t Sweat the Technique,” which we play during our torched breakfast. It’s fun, clever and immerses guests in the moment.

Keeping all five senses in mind when thinking about how to present your food and beverage options can take your events to the next level and deliver memorable momentsevery time, on every budget.


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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact