What is sober inclusivity and why it matters at events

Thought leadership
three prosecco style glasses with raspberries and a pink drink inside
The shift to mindful drinking and the rise of alcohol free drink options can have a positive effect on event culture. We explore how to be sober inclusive when planning events and how to create the same experience for every attendee. 

Mocktails and mindfulness

Trends are shifting and alcohol consumption is decreasing, replaced by mindful drinking and the growth of the wellbeing industry including alcohol free drinks. 

Brands like Heineken are investing into non-alcoholic products and Tesco has recorded its highest ever Christmas week demand for no and low beer as sales soared by 43% on the previous year. 

Yet the events industry is falling behind on this key factor of inclusivity.

Alcohol is seen as a key ingredient in events and having a good time but, while food and beverage is certainly one of the most memorable parts of an event, those who don’t drink often have a negative experience of events. 

Dietary requirements are always catered to while event planning but how often have you attended an event and been served Prosecco or throughout the room while the non-alcoholic option of water or orange juice is at the back of the room in a jug? Or that you’ve had to go to the bar to pay for a soft drink despite the alcohol being free? 

For guests to have a positive experience of get the most out of your event, adding an extra drinks options can make a world of difference. 

If guests have a drink they are enjoying, they likely to stay longer and get more out of the event. Many may choose to not attend at all, without the right options. This is because of the many reasons we choose not to drink such as pregnancy, religion, age or being on medication which can lead to difficult conversations and being singled out. 

Inclusion is such an important topic in the industry and taking a proactive approach to sober inclusivity means guests will have a positive experience of your event and are likely to attend again. 

Giving people the choice, and a equally special alternative, also encourages the right decisions around health, wellbeing and respectful behaviour and allows guests to moderate their drinking. 

Tips for planning a sober inclusive event

  • Celebrate with an immersive activity for team events rather than centring it around alcohol. 
  • Match the drinks you have chosen to their alcohol-free alternative. Why not add a non-alcoholic option to your curated wine list? This helps guests feel included and allows everyone to experience the event in the same way. 
  • Have a similar style of glassware for all of the drinks on offer. Not only does this extend the experience to all guests, but means no one has to feel singled out or give a reason for not drinking.
  • Drinks should be clearly labelled and catering staff should be informed in order to assist guests. If the alcohol free option is matched in terms of type of drink and glassware, guests are likely to assume it isn’t an option for them.
  • Rather than simply adding drinks reception onto the invite or agenda, inform guests of an alcohol free option and what this is. This means those who would automatically opt out due to being sober are much more likely to attend. 
  • There is no need to increase your drinks budget as a portion of it can be allocated to non-alcoholic. You’ll find those who are drinking will enjoy this option too, but if you aren’t sure then you can ask people to choose their drinks preferences with their dietary requirements.

There are more alternatives than ever that an attendee can enjoy, here are some great brands for non-alcoholic drinks for events: 

While were not suggesting you need to go completely alcohol free, allowing people to make a choice, feel comfortable and enjoy the same experience as everyone else is what inclusivity is all about. And, alcohol isn’t essential to have fun or network!