Event-Planning, Food & Drink

Trend Tracking 2012

Eatertainment skewers a miniature lobster club with a pipette filled with lobster bisqueEatertainment skewers a miniature lobster club with a pipette filled with lobster bisque

Predicting trends is an inexact science at the best of times, especially in the event industry where client needs and budget often dictate outcomes. However, there’s always some movement afoot that’s sure to influence events with fresh ideas and looks.

Here are a few event industry trend predictions set to make a difference in 2012:

Hot Hospitality

“Much of the work that goes into developing new ideas and items has to do with making an impression and ensuring event patrons really enjoy them. For 2012, we’ll see artisanal products reminiscent of Old World culinary destinations yet made in our own backyard. Mixologists are king, and consumers more drinks savvy, making a creative cocktail component all the more important. And catering ups the ante with dishes that deliver taste with innovative presentations.”
Sebastien Centner, Eatertainment

Gourmet pursuits include:

• Local first, from meats to wines, with culinary creativeness around seasonal, native ingredients, and menus that pay homage to the producers of farm-to-table ingredients

• The classics, such as the Manhattan, and re-imagined Prohibition-era style cocktails with premium liquor (no bootleg here!) shaken up by inventive mixologists using house-made juices, infusions and muddles, and clever garnishes

• An explosion of mini bites and tapas-style servings, big in taste, artful in styling and unique in ingredient pairings, that invite grazing, sharing and a healthier approach to portion control (and budget) than a main entrée

• An active mobile dining scene that delivers great eating and fun, with a surge in food trucks, pop-up restos, and unique food stations that emulate gourmet kitchens


Set The Scene

Colours to watch for from the Pantone Fashion Color InstituteColours to watch for from the Pantone Fashion Color Institute

“Whether architecturally strong and sophisticated, or softened by nature’s flowing lines, 2012 décor is driven by colour, the bolder, the better. A unique fusion of bright passionate hues and strong lines translates into a look of understated elegance. Spring will see a palette whitewashed for softness, while fall and winter replaces linear angles with rustically beautiful elements from the floral world for an earthier, sensual look.”
Leslee Bell, Décor & More

Get the look with:

• Tangerine Tango, a vibrant, high visibility red-orange, named 2012 Colour of the Year by the Pantone Fashion Color Institute. The institute’s palette experts tag a mix of vivid jewel tones bordering on neon paired with soft but spirited pastels to surface in the months ahead

• Sophisticated and uncluttered furnishings, tabletops and accents get their wow power more from colour bursts and dramatic lighting than the over-the-top sparkle and bling of recent past

• Natural accents in unusual bouquets and centrepieces with an emphasis on non-flowering foliage such as twigs, leaves and berries

• Large, bold and unique “statement” props make the scene, strategically placed at event entrances or on-stage

“We are definitely seeing a distinct shift from the luxury zen of the past 10 years. Keeping up with the explosion of ‘experiential’ events, décor is often serving double duty as both aesthetic items and as engaging interactive experiences. For example, busker entertainers are being staged in their own vignettes that may include furnishings, awnings or backgrounds that complement the overall room décor theme.” Penni Holdham, Display Connection


Entertaining Today

A virtual graffiti wall, sponsored by Virgin Mobile, was a hit among guests at UnMasked 2011, a CAMH fundraiserA virtual graffiti wall, sponsored by Virgin Mobile, was a hit among guests at UnMasked 2011, a CAMH fundraiser

“Event entertainment in the coming year will hit a whole new level of customization that clients are looking for. Generic is not where it’s at and entertainment acts will need to be fresh, unique and speak specifically to objectives, corporate messages and offer something unlike the last show. Unique, thematic acts will inspire thought, emotion and create reaction.”
Carolyn Luscombe, Eclectic Events International

Engage participants with:

• Experiential interaction and activities, from touch-screen kiosks and gaming stations to photo booths (yep, guests still love them!) and hands-on creative opportunities such as digital graffiti walls

• “After parties” are growing in popularity, especially in fundraising circles, with the main event plus a more intimate, glammed-up soiree for VIPs and special ticket holders

• Constant action and surprises, from novel door greeters and strolling entertainment to personality plus DJs who keep the groove going between live band sets

• The Year of the Dragon will definitely make the scene in 2012 event themes, playing off the ancient Chinese mythology surrounding “lucky” water dragons with colourful visuals, rituals and ceremonial performances

• Watch for a resurgence in military themes as our troops return home. Other entertainment ideas and activities continue to tap TV’s breadth of reality shows, from survival games and cook offs, to decluttering challenges and antique hunting scavenger quests.


Tune Into Technology Now

Mobile technology and events go hand in handMobile technology and events go hand in hand

“Just when you thought you were starting to get the hang of it, get ready for another technology shift as digital and social media continues its evolution. Enter Google+, which is revolutionizing the world of search marketing, Pinterest, which came out of nowhere to capture over 5 million users, and the rapid rise of mobile. All and more are creating a changed attendee who expects to experience events in new ways.”
Lara McCulloch-Carter, Ready2Spark

Tools to use:

• If you were impressed by the behemoth known as Facebook with its 800 million users, then be prepared to be awed by Google+. Every day, billions of people perform billions of searches using Google. It’s no surprise that the search giant is playing favourites with its own social networking site. That means great things for promoting and marketing your event content.

• Cell phones and tablets replace pens, paper and program packages for easy mobile access to meeting materials, conference itineraries, trade show floor wayfinding, interactive networking and more. Add to that, 40% of mobile users now use a smartphone which only emphasizes the need for a mobile strategy for your company and event.

• Social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs are communication must-haves in promoting, engaging and connecting attendees pre-, during and post event. But pay attention to new tools, understand who uses them, the idea behind their success, and whether they hold an opportunity for your event.

• Look at technologies, such as webcasting and livestreaming, that enable hybrid meetings that bring together onsite and remote attendees and speakers for real-time interactions, chats, product demonstrations, and Q&A sessions.