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How to keep your delegates in high spirits – even if they aren’t drinking

The last few years have made lots of people reassess their relationship with alcohol, and more and more people are choosing to go no-alcohol or low-alcohol full-time.

Sales of non-alcoholic beverages saw a surge this year, and there has also been a rise in demand for spaces and activities that aren’t centered around booze, particularly some Generation Zs and millennials, who want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Half of the UK adult population bought a no-alcohol or low-alcohol product during 2022, boosting volumes by 9% last year, according to the IWSR, and sober night-clubs are becoming more mainstream as people look to have fun, without the headache the next day. A sobering thought if you are looking at planning your next corporate event.

Catherine Duhaut, co-founder and director here at BeaconHouse Events said, “There are lots of reasons why people don’t want to drink; health, driving, recovery, religious beliefs, pregnancy, or just simply because they don’t want to, and I think we need to move away from the stigma that if someone isn’t drinking it has to be noted. As a sector, we need to be more inclusive when it comes to offering alcohol-free refreshments and activities that are just as good, or even better, than their boozy counterparts. Gone are the days of being offered a warm lemonade, or worse, a free Prosecco but you have to pay if you want a soft drink (yep, that happened), as an acceptable alternative. Post-conference get-togethers are sometimes where some of the best conversations happen, and it is our responsibility to make everyone feel comfortable and included, not just those who want to drink.”

We spoke to the team here at BeaconHouse and they shared their top tips for creating an inclusive event that doesn’t center around drinking.

  1. Offer tasty alternatives 

From delicious mocktails and non-alcohol like Sipsmith Gin, or Caleño Dark & Spicy rum, to low-alcohol like Brewdog Lost AF (0.5%) there are plenty of enjoyable options that look and taste just like the real thing. If you are offering a welcome drink, make a non-alcohol version readily available so delegates don’t have to ask and serve non-alcoholic drinks in the way you would serve an alcoholic beverage – just because it is 0% doesn’t mean it can’t look stylish and you won’t be able to tell the difference. You could even set up an interactive station where people can customize their drinks and have a bit of fun with their concoctions! Provide a selection of fresh fruits, herbs, and mixers, and let your delegates enjoy creating their signature drink.

  1. Knowledgeable staff 

Choose venues, bartenders, and servers who are knowledgeable in alcohol-free options, know how to mix a great mocktail, and can recommend the best flavours to go with your dining options. A great venue team will make sure that drinkers and non-drinkers get the same level of care and attention during the event. Ask the team to consider how they are communicating the alcohol-free options so people don’t feel ‘other’ if they are ordering from that menu.

  1. 0% networking

Plan opportunities for delegates to get together post-event outside of the bar. This could be organising a walking tour of local sites, mini-golf, or holding post-event get togethers at a local independent coffee-house. Keep your guests busy and engaged and they’ll soon forget they don’t have a drink in their hand.

  1. Keep your guests entertained 

Focus on the experience that your delegates are having while they are with you, and give them plenty of things to do to keep them entertained, and spirits high. Depending on the type of event you’re designing, this could be live music, dance instructors, craft stands, pinball machines, photo booths, or trivia games – just get creative.

Remember, the reason why people may choose not to drink varies, and it is a completely personal choice as to whether they choose to consume alcohol or not, it is our role as event planners to make sure everyone is comfortable, feeling confident, and having a great time, regardless of what’s in their glass.

For more information on how to create an event that your delegates will remember, contact or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.