• Summer Event Trends

    Soak in what's catching the noise this year in the world of decor, food and beverage, entertainment,audio-visual, technology and event planning.

     
    POSTED May 29, 2013
     

Looking to freshen up an event or launch something new that will catch people’s eye or, better yet, their attendance? Sit down and enjoy the ride on the trend train for 2013, courtesy of meeting and event "conductors" and suppliers around the state.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Good taste these days goes far beyond the traditional sense. It’s just as much, if not more, about presenting food and drinks in an impactful way that creates excitement and anticipation. Successful caterers must pull out all stops to impress guests’ full range of senses at all types of events.

"In terms of catering, the more creative, the easier it is for us to sell to clients," emphasizes Tami Forero, CEO of Colorado Springs-based Forté Events. "Last year, we chose a caterer because they were out-of-the-box thinkers who incorporated all the food, service and layout into our theme. Guests picked food from trees, and all the stations were uber-creative. No more traditional chafing dishes, serving utensils, etc. Our clients want more!"


(Photo: Tomboy Tavern, Telluride)

Themed cocktails & foods »
We’re not over it-yet. Sometimes food and beverage is the most memorable part of an event, so if your team-building event can close with "Team Tacos" or your customer reception features a smoky cocktail named after your new technology product, attendees will get the message (and not forget it). - Meghan Johnson, MorEvents

Food trucks »
They’re mobile, can meet your group anywhere (ever wonder how to feed your group after their outdoor kickball tournament in Florida?), and make fresh and yummy food for everyone’s taste. Consider an ice cream truck to meet your group during an afternoon break between educational sessions- your group will thank you for the chance to be outside for a minute and for the snack. - Meghan Johnson, MorEvents

Food & beverage pairings »
Stations for pairings provide more emphasis on employee/ client/donor enjoyment and mingling instead of a rigid, plated formal dinner. Pairings can add childlike fun to your event, like chicken and waffles paired with a cotton candy and Pop Rocks cocktail. Or a more sophisticated option is seared scallops with saffron and coconut foam paired with a St. Germain and Champagne cocktail. - April Lambatos, Footers Catering

Mini private buffets »
This is a less formal approach than a plated dinner, but guests are still served at their table and do not need to get up and wait in a buffet line. - April Lambatos, Footers Catering

Beer pairing dinners »
Beer is taking the place of wine in the dinner pairing world. Craft beers are gaining traction, and are just as diverse as wines. One example would be the Vail-based event called Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywine Festival. They have two beer pairing dinners that sell out year after year and are five and six courses with two beers paired with each course. Telluride Brewing Company has been at several events to give our guests the local flavor of beer, and it has been well received! Tomboy Tavern in Teulluride also hosts beer pairing dinners for the public. - Deana B. Mitchell, CMP, DMCP, Realize Planning, LLC.

Healthy requests »
Venues with food options focused on health, nutrition and specialized dietary offerings will win out. - Victoria DeSilvio, Forté Events

Organic & à la carte »
Hotels are seeing a substantial increase in demand for organic cuisine from groups. There also is a rise in à la carte-style requests in creative ways, with service and presentation playing major roles. - Victoria DeSilvio, Forté Events

Edible image technology »
We are able to print company logos/images with soy ink and soy paper. This has been a huge hit with our clients. We put the edible logos/images on cookies or brownies, which makes for a great take-home gift for event guests. - April Lambatos, Footers Catering

New fundraising approaches »
Nonprofits, specifically, are diversifying from the formal live and silent auction and incorporating events such as a wine pull or VIP beverage tasting for additional fundraising opportunities. - April Lambatos, Footers Catering

Sophisticated cocktails »
Real, mixology-oriented cocktails are making a big difference in peoples’ minds. These are usually cocktails that involve innovative fresh juices and fruits, such as blood oranges, sage, rose petal syrup, etc. People that have such unique cocktails will remember that drink for a long time, and in turn, remember the amazing event they had it at, as well! - Andy Klosterman, Peak Beverage

TECHNOLOGY

(Photo: Square)

There’s no shortage of new methods, software, apps and tools for meeting planners and attendees to utilize. "We are constantly amazed at where technology is taking the meeting industry," says Meghan Johnson, idea engineer for MorEvents in Englewood. "Recently, we worked an international event where each attendee was given a personal tablet to use throughout his or her stay. A live meeting application was loaded onto the tablet that provided up-to-date agendas and meeting room changes, along with current transportation directions and materials."

She adds, "We also love video messaging and live streaming when your CEO is unable to travel out of the country and can be streamed into a meeting."

Three planners from around the state shared their thoughts on the latest impacts of technology.

Paperless corporate events »
Our clients are utilizing iPads in lieu of binders and paper training material, for example. More often meetings are happening over Skype, registration processes are streamlined using proprietary software and iPads, and nonprofits are using web-based auction products instead of silent auctions on-site. If tickets need to be sold onsite, Square is the credit card processor of choice used with smart phones. - Tami Forero, Forté Events

Paperless offices »
Our office is completely paperless. We use Dropbox to share documents and photos with both social and corporate clients. We use apps like Evernote to scan all documents, contracts, etc. and store them on servers and in the cloud using Dropbox. - Tami Forero, Forté Events

Team-building goes electronic »
At the Association of Destination Management Executives conference in Montreal, a SmartHunt scavenger hunt was part of the opening session. Each team received an iPad, and all of the possible items with points attached were in a menu to the left, like your email inbox. You opened each one for instructions such as answer a riddle or history question, take a picture, take a video or even make a commercial. All of the items in the hunt were customized to the location and the group. There is a mission control where you can watch all the teams and see what they are up to. We had a blast, and they made a video of all the pictures and video taken by each team and showed it at the next general session. - Deana B. Mitchell, Realize Planning

Event app explosion »
I can envision a time not too far away where every event in the universe will have its own app. Every attendee wants information at their electronic fingertips; no one wants paper to carry around anymore (and we don’t want to kill the trees either). Every website is becoming mobile, everything you ever need to do has an app these days, and the meeting and event world is right there on the cutting edge. - Deana B. Mitchell, Realize Planning

Social spaces »
Are being incorporated into events to ride the wave of social networking. Meetings are creating spaces that allow for interactivity. - Terri Woodin, CMP, CHSE, Meeting Sites Resource

Pinterest to share ideas »
Clients are using Pinterest to communicate ideas they are looking to create at events and also to promote their products and services. We utilize secret boards to share ideas back and forth with our clients. - Tami Forero, Forté Events

Content, commerce & billing »
With the rise in smartphone and tablet usage at meetings, the design of content usable on these devices is increasing. So is mobile e-commerce with mobile card readers to pay for registration or merchandise at a tradeshow. Hyatt’s new group bill technology replaces the paper folio with an interactive PDF. - Terri Woodin, Meeting Sites Resource

RENTALS

(Photo: Clear Pool Cover, Wright Group Event Services)

Four hot items that can be rented from Wright Group Event Services in Denver have caught the attention of President Tom Wright and his clients.

Clear pool covers »
This new item is an incredible trend with underwater lighting and clear top tents. These are awesome for areas where the pool is the main focal point or takes up a big chunk of the space. It feels like you’re are walking or dancing on water!

Clear top tents »
Guests can be indoors and still stargaze on a cool night!

Dance cube boxes »
They have built-in fog machines, lights, strobes and more.

Lighting »
Custom LED lighting that is controlled via DMX sets the tone inside a tent or space. It has one lighting controller to change the mood or color of the room as the party evolves through the night.

AUDIO-VISUAL

(Photo: Video Projection Mapping, J&S Audio Visual)

Bookings within 30 days are still happening regularly in the event production world, but an uptick in inquiries and bookings and fewer budget-driven decisions are the positives, observes Jennifer Winget, senior national account manager and director of sales for J&S Audio Visual’s Colorado office. "Exhibit floors are coming back, and we are seeing more technology rentals on the floor."

Some of the technology requests Winget frequently sees are video mapping, touch screens, 3-D imaging, LED lighting, greener audio (smaller cabinets with larger sound) and HD formatting. "Video projection mapping is a technology that can turn any shape into a projection surface," explains Winget. "Special software is used to map the surface, interface with the projector and fit the image to the specialized shape. Certain examples might be the outside line of a building or an irregularly shaped wall. The result is a dynamic image unlike any flatscreen surface we’ve seen before."

Deana B. Mitchell, owner of Realize Planning in Telluride, is a big fan of video mapping. "I am definitely no expert on this, just learning about it, but it is amazing and unbelievable in some cases. Talk about transforming a space! This tool can change any space to any environment you want with endless opportunities." 

DECOR

(Photo: All Digital Photography & Video)

We checked in with two Denver design firms to delve into the latest décor must-haves. "It’s more Hamptons and less Harry Potter," says Wendy Foster, owner of T’DA Design. "Many of the current trends take cues from the media and popular television programming."

Wendy Foster, T’DA Design
Vintage casino & Gatsby »
Coming from the popularity of Boardwalk Empire and the much anticipated 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby, we are seeing a resurgence of the ever-popular casino party, but with a bit of a twist. It’s much more of a nod to the ‘20s and Prohibition- a lot more glam and a lot less grit.

Art Deco »
There is a big resurgence, especially in geometric linen prints. We also are seeing a lot of the details from that era: paillettes, fringe, cut crystal, reflective surfaces, bead curtains and shimmer curtains.

If it sparkles, it’s in »
But in a much more nostalgic way than the ultra blinged-out events of the past few years. On tabletops, this means more composite centerpieces instead of large effusive arrangements and things like a gorgeous trailing orchid blossom rather than a compact bunch of roses. Everyone is wild about champagne saucers over traditional flutes.

Romantic »
In a direct correlation to the popularity of Downton Abbey, we are creating elegant picnics with vintage pieces, picnic baskets as centerpieces and classic flowers such as garden roses, dahlias, orchids and gardenia. These all work to create very elegant and formal settings.

Color »
Everyone has heard the buzz about emerald green being the go-to color of the season, but we haven’t seen it yet. What we are seeing is color blocking. The ombre we saw the last two years has split up, and now we are keeping the line between the colors nice and crisp. This look is created by using either analogous colors or a complementary palette and applying them in solid blocks somewhat devoid of texture.

Vintage »|
Still hot with no chance of slowing down.

Western »
A perennial classic, especially with corporate events, Western is as popular as ever, but we are seeing it take a more upscale approach. Less of the kitschy Western, but more of the sophisticated gentleman’s ranch that suggests old money, racehorses and fine wine.


(Photo: T'DA Design, All Digital Photography)

Chris Blumke, Decor ‘N More, Inc.
Decades »
Going back to when times were simpler and music was fun is a popular theme this year. The decade look requires more props than other themes and creative centerpieces incorporating toys and music from each decade such as 45 rpm records, cassettes, CDs, Rubik’s Cubes, Slinkys and tie-dyed linens.

Glowing décor »
Still popular-look for glowing bars, glowing highboys (we custom print wraps with a client’s logo to go around ours) and glowing centerpieces.

Lounge groupings »
Since most people network at events, groupings of lounge furniture such as benches and ottomans create intimate discussion areas away from the band or other noise. Themes for social events » Rock ’n’ roll, carnival/circus, dance and sports are hot for bar and bat mitzvahs.

Weddings »
Ceiling treatments, sheer drapes and uplighting behind the head table are in, along with a more rustic, country chic look versus traditional. Bright color accents including hot pink, lime, fuchsia and turquoise are the rage.

Lighting »
Uplighting walls and drape lines is very important to make the décor installation pop. Gobos with custom messages and logos are popular.

Color »
Black and white with hot color accents (lime, purple, turquoise) are stylish selections.

Holidays »
We recently joined forces with Holiday Artisans, which creates major holiday installations for shopping malls, strip malls and elite private residences. Darren Venteicher, president of the company, says they are working with customers on "non-holiday" looking pieces such as snowflakes and more winter-themed décor items. Silver and soft color tones as accents are the trend.

ENTERTAINMENT

(Photo: FACE at Flatiron Crossing's Summer Nights Concert Series, Steve Peterson)

Integrating involvement has become the name of the game for successful events. "Corporate training requires off-site experiential learning pieces. Other corporate events need fun, interactive opportunities for employees to socialize and feel appreciated by their companies," observes Tami Forero, CEO of Forté Events in Colorado Springs. "Nonprofit events can tend to feel forced and boring so it is necessary to incorporate as many unique, hands-on elements as possible."

One way that entertainment companies are engaging guests is with more interactive entertainment, such as strolling magicians and dance instructors, adds Forero’s co-worker Victoria DeSilvio. "Regardless of what is happening in the economy, the entertainment scene is booming," confirms Terri Fisher, president of 5 Star Talent and Entertainment, Inc. in Westminster, who shared the following six observations.

Corporate »
The corporate market is coming back. Some are adding big entertainment options like Cirque shows and themed bands, and the ones on a tighter budget may not be doing the big entertainment that they used to, but are booking bands, jazz groups, drum lines, cultural entertainment, meet-and-greet entertainers, etc. Some corporate and private groups are booking big bands and DJs for longer hours at their events.

Charities »
Many of the large charities are spending big dollars on the popular older groups. We just had The Pointer Sisters for Excelsior Youth, and Saturday Night Alive will have The Four Tops and The Temptations. With more than 18,000 nonprofits in Colorado, the charities reach an audience with deep pockets and entertain using some of their favorite groups in the hopes of larger donations in return.

Public Events »
The festival and city markets are challenged with less money from Denver’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District but are still finding a way to hold events in their communities. I am seeing an increase in public places adding music and concert series to the summer.

Style of Entertainment »
The big ones for this year are for 1920s, burlesque, themed Cirque shows, country bands, talented DJs and VJs, comedians, murder mysteries, dueling pianos and variety bands that can play everything from ‘60s to current music.

Last-Minute No Longer »
In my opinion, last-minute is becoming an old trend and planning ahead is the new trend- and I mean way ahead. I am already getting calls for summer 2014 weddings. The holidays will be even more interesting as we have one less weekend for parties, and entertainment is already being booked this far out.

Weddings »
Brides are once again booking bands, and some are adding DJs to the evening in between the bands for a longer reception time.

MEETING & EVENT PLANNING

One trend we can all live with for a long time is that "more thought and effort is going into events," says Meghan Johnson, idea engineer for MorEvents. "Whether it’s making sure you have the right staff managing the event, or are providing your team and attendees with the right resources, the industry is making things more personal."

However, destinations are still seeing short-term bookings, but are relieved that budgets have loosened up a bit. Groups are seeking unique dining options and activities (e.g., GPS Scavenger hunts, building projects, ropes courses), looking for bonding experiences, and bringing families along, shares Donna Horii, director of sales for the Breckenridge Convention & Visitors Bureau. She also has noticed an increase in the number of smaller meetings and the use of third-party planners.

"Many of the groups are asking for our assistance in helping them find a special/unique venue for group events, both high-end and low-end," concurs Pam Sherfesee, CDME, vice president of sales for the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Groups also are asking for our assistance with destination photos and marketing materials, so they can pre-promote their meeting."

Nonprofits are hiring planners »
Nonprofits are funneling conservative funds to hire an event planner outside of the organization, so staff can concentrate on grants, sponsorships and donor contributions. - April Lambatos, Footers Catering

Increased prices »
The economy may be on the upswing, which is a good thing, but that means it’s becoming harder to find a deal, and that’s a bad thing. Last-minute venues at the right price are becoming a challenge to find, but nothing is impossible. A little more research goes a long way. Besides, don’t be afraid to ask for the price you need. - Meghan Johnson, MorEvents

Pop-up events »
The excitement and surprise behind a pop-up event is memorable, special and unique for attendees. One of my favorite pop-up events that I was lucky enough to attend was snagging a ticket to a midnight macaroni and cheese cook-off between two local celebrity chefs in a random warehouse in Boston. - Meghan Johnson, MorEvents

More families attending »
With family time in demand and costs sometimes covered by meetings, it makes sense to bring family members along. - Terri Woodin, Meeting Sites Resource

Sustainability »
There is an increased focus on how meetings are incorporating sustainability into their schedules, what venues are selected and how hotel companies are thinking green. -Terri Woodin, Meeting Sites Resource

Corporate & social responsibility »
We’ve created and managed CSR projects for some of our clients like build-a-bike, park cleanup projects and elementary school book bag stuffing. The beauty of CSR projects is that they serve multiple purposes, including team-building, entertainment and all-around feel-good experiences. They also typically please any size budget to boot. - Meghan Johnson, MorEvents

Since writing about amusing places as something different for groups to tap into for the summer issue of Colorado Meetings + Events, I’ve run across additions to the state’s fun quota. Colorado Springs’ is embracing the new 30,000-square-foot WhirlyBall, an entertainment center where the meeting space can be utilized and team-building incorporated into the program all in one location.

 

Recently, I wrote about examples of two lodging properties’ impactful ways to give back. Colorado’s meeting and event industry associations also are champions of good causes, including the National Association of Catering and Events - Greater Denver Chapter’s first-ever Bunks to Backpacks on Aug. 8 at Four Mile Historic Park from 4 – 9 p.m.

 

Chicago's Taste of Randolph Street Festival saw the return of Visit Denver this June. The Colorado CVB sponsored the festival's West Stage, christening it the Denver Live on the Rocks Stage and decorating it with a full-size replica of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and hosting a VIP client event.