Will Smith said this week that diversity is America’s superpower. While the actor was responding to a question about the lack of African-American nominees at this year’s Oscars, he could have easily been speaking about Connect’s Diversity Marketplace at Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Planners and suppliers celebrated both the social and economic advantages of inclusion. Here are four of our biggest takeaways from this week’s conference.
1. There’s a hunger for diverse cuisine.
We love our burgers and fried chicken, but Marriott’s Cabrin Kelly-Hale and Steven Kuentz challenging event profs to diversify menus led to a lively discussion. They put the onus on planners to demand venues incorporate ingredients and spices popular in Asia, Africa and South America, coming up with interesting alternatives like using a Ramen noodle station instead of a traditional pasta bar. One planner revealed that attendees scared off by Jamaican curried goat scoffed at her attempt at a worldwide carnival. It served as a reminder to experiment, but at the right speed—and keep your attendees’ tastes and experiences in mind.