November 18, 2021 | Nancy Mueller

Whether coordinating an in-person, virtual or hybrid meeting, planners know that one survey item can make or break the success of an event: F&B. With that in mind, savvy conference organizers look toward favorite foodie destinations as an easy and enlivening way to attract more attendees to events.

Here, then, are a few food-forward destinations eager to help planners and attendees explore their most cherished local culinary traditions, innovations and notable dining experiences.

San Antonio, TX

From Tex-Mex to “Tex-Next,” the city of San Antonio blends the best of both traditional and innovative cuisines. Recognized as the second UNESCO “Creative City of Gastronomy,” San Antonio’s 4,000 restaurants include both iconic favorites and hidden gems, says Marc Anderson, president and CEO of Visit Antonio. For Todd Voorhees, vice-president, exposition & events for the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), “San Antonio is an essential and vibrant part of our Texas culture and cuisine,” he says. “San Antonio balances the traditional expectations of Texas barbecue, Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, with many bold and creative dining concepts.” Voorhees continues, “As a food destination, San Antonio is a culinary destination for authentic and creative experiences across a spectrum of dining options.”

Yet, the food scene alone is not the only attraction that makes the difference for Voorhees’ group in choosing a meeting site location. Apart from the city’s unique culinary flavor profiles, TRA attendees are drawn to the warmth of the local residents, “San Antonio has an unparalleled culture of hospitality and tourism that comes across in every interaction,” Voorhees says. In addition, “The beauty and entertainment of the River Walk, the variety and convenience of the hotel community, and the hospitality that you feel in all your experiences, are a hallmark of this city.”

The association relies on dozens of restaurants and meeting venues to host their members, like the 4,000+ who attended TRA’s trade show at the Henry B. González Convention Center in mid summer this year. Briscoe Western Art Museum, TopGolf and Mi Terra Café also hosted member events, as well as a “very special” hosted TRA event at The Fairmount Hotel for VIP guests “that was one of the highlights of our visit,” Voorhees says. In addition, “[Grand Hyatt San Antonio River Walk] and the Hilton Palacio Del Rio were excellent partners in accommodating our smaller group meetings. The support and hospitality with these partners was exceptional.”

Voorhees concludes: “I know I’m like a broken record, but it’s the hospitality. Really and truly, San Antonio has a remarkable culture of appreciation for their guests. You will absolutely fall in love with the food, the natural beauty and the convenience of working here, but what you will always remember and take away with you is the people.”