Every year, we see major changes in how corporations and event planners organize their holiday and special events, tending to mirror what is changing in society at large. In some cases, the changes in these trends are also technology driven. Below, we present some of the more important 2014 holiday corporate and special event trends you will see this year. We expect that some of these will take an even more prominent role in how events are organized as we move into 2015, continuing a trend of local food and local entertainment from the hosting city or company.
Event Attendee Shared Media
Instead of hiring a professional photographer for their events, many corporations are moving toward collecting pictures and video clips from attendees and pooling these together into a fun collection that can be accessed by all, across social media channels using Hashtags. As this continues into 2015, there will no doubt be an increasing number of creative ways to curate this content and make it easier to sort through, share and use the creativity of the attendees to create amazing content in real time. One simple idea would be asking attendees to post pictures using the event hashtag, of them and their co-workers with the corporate mascot, event mascot, or another creative idea. You could register, then monitor this easily through a service like http://twubs.com/ and then collect, and organize these for use in entertainment or just general viewing on projector screens. Or use a service for Instagram like http://eventstagr.am/,which can then using a projector and laptop at your event, show images with your hashtag, in real time slideshows.
Every audience has an aspiring vine star, which makes Vine a good technology for short, normally funny videos that are easily organizable of your event attendees that can be used to make creative event shared media.
There continues to be a strong move away from using traditional convention halls as a venue for corporate and special events. Instead, there is a new focus on finding a unique place to hold the event. Event planners are looking for places that will create a memorable one of a kind experience for attendees. Local historical museums, warehouses, art galleries, space centers, science museums, public aquariums, historic churches, castles, and cruise ships have all been used for indoor venues. Outdoor venues include vineyards, sculpture gardens, zoological gardens, formal botanical gardens, and community gardens. In some cases, a more “vanilla” venue can be converted into something quite unique as well. For example, laying down walking labyrinths in different historical styles, including medieval and Greek, can turn ordinary grounds into something quite extraordinary.
Farm To Table Catering
Building on the popular farm to fork trend across the nation, farm to table catering for corporate events is trending in 2014 and should continue to grow in popularity in 2015. Cuisine is prepared with locally grown produce and fruit that puts the spotlight on the bounty of the region. Pastured raised beef and chicken from the area can also be incorporated, as well as eggs from locally raised pastured chickens. In coastal regions, preparing locally caught sustainably harvested fish and other seafood using old favorite regional recipes is popular. Serving beer from micro-breweries in the region is also becoming quite popular. Wine produced in the region, which now extends to many states outside California, is another way to show regional pride and support local producers. The focus on locally raised food connects the corporation and its employees, who are residents in the region, to the local farmers and other local food producers in the region. In doing so, this makes the corporation a more integral part of the community in which it operates.
Food Stations Rather Than a Sit Down Banquet
The days of the old fashioned banquet tables with waiters and waitresses are long gone. Instead, food stations where attendees wait on themselves have become very popular. In 2014, in fact, these have been taken a step further with do it yourself meat carving stations and assemble your own dish have become even more popular than before. For the holiday season, a decorate your own cookie or mini-pie station would go along nicely with this trend. The food stations go well beyond salad bars and build your own after dinner sundaes.
For a build it yourself appetizer, there are bruschetta bars with gourmet toppings like roasted garlic, mango chutney, and chicken cook on cedar plank. For breakfast, yogurt bars may include a variety of toppings like pecans, goji berries, dark chocolate shavings, coconut flakes, granola, and chia seeds. For lunch and dinner, there may be skewer bars with shrimp, scallops, chicken, cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, and a variety of mushrooms.
Giving Back More Than Ever
Finding ways to combine corporate events with charity giving has been trending for several years, but in 2014, it took off like never before. Food drives, toy drives, and corporate volunteers making up gift baskets and holiday potted plants for those in need at the event itself are all in the planning stages for the 2014 holiday season and beyond. There is also a trend toward giving gifts to attendees where all the profits go toward a good cause. There has been a change in the corporate culture in genuinely wanting to make giving part of the corporate mission and this is often expressed at and combined with special events and holiday parties.
Smaller Entertainment Acts and Interactive Games
Many corporations are planning smaller more local entertainment acts in the 2014 holiday season than they have in the past. Instead of one big show, they are electing to have several smaller shows and/or roving acts. Corporations are also beginning to offer social interactive games in tandem with entertainment acts. With the continuing rise in popularity of interactive pop culture game shows, musical and trivia game shows with interactive lights and electronics are becoming popular, and will likely become much more popular in 2015.
Corporate Events Are Not Just For Employees Anymore
There has been an increasing trend in 2014 for corporate events to include key clients, suppliers, subcontractors, and others who work with a corporation. The feeling is that these fun events are the perfect opportunity to not only give back to those who drive the success of the corporation but also to network in a very friendly environment. This trend will surely include the holiday season of 2014 and continue to grow in 2015.
The 2014 holiday corporate and special event trends you witness this year will surely inspire corporations and event planners to innovate even more in 2015. It is interesting to see where we are headed, but of course, we can also expect to see some surprises too!