What’s trending?

The year-end event is a highlight on most corporate calendars. Liesl Venter finds out what the top trends are this year.


Smaller budgets but bigger bang

Corporates are keeping a close eye on the bottom line, says Joseph Sono, assistant account executive for The Blue Train. “They do not want to pay extra fees on the day of the event, be it for parking or food or drinks. There is a definite requirement for more all-inclusive packages,” he says.

One of the biggest contributors to cost is the bar bill. According to Yvonne Burger, groups and events office manager at Lagoon Beach Hotel, more corporates are opting for a cash bar for all alcoholic drinks as opposed to the company paying.

Avukile Mabombo, group marketing manager at Protea Hotels by Marriott and African Pride Hotels, agrees, saying that cost-savings are a significant trend. “This is seen in a variety of ways such as more requests for bigger space because companies are combining regional/local office events into one; more requests for informal, outdoor events such as braais or pool parties; more informal food options such as finger food rather than sit-down meals; more functions held in the day rather than at night or even corporates now obtaining quotes from up to five venues to compare price rather than the usual three-quote approach.”

The events are simpler, says Burger. “There is a definite move away from elaborate events and this is linked to the smaller budgets available,” she says.

But, says Sono, there is still very much a need to ‘wow’ guests within these tight budgetary constraints. “Corporates are still wanting to offer a unique experience to their guests and are looking for creative ideas to deliver this.”

It’s the bang for their buck, says Elouise Cloete, owner and md of Shift Ideas. “The trend is to deliver value for the money spent on the event.”

Adds Catherine Larkin of CVLC: “Most corporates want something different, something memorable, but not at the prices they have paid in the past.”


Informal is the new formal

Laidback, more relaxing with a chilled ambience is fast becoming the ‘in’ thing, says Larkin.

“The days of black-tie events are dying as more clients opt for the outdoors and events during the day,” Larkin says, adding that outside events speak directly to South Africans’ love of the outside. “Outdoor venues also provide that relaxed environment for fun, entertainment and interactions,” she says.

Mabombo agrees, saying the move away from the confines of the high-rise building speaks to the trend of companies moving away from traditional types of events as they look for more interesting experiences for staff.


Last-minute haste

Lead-time to organise events has become shorter and shorter, says Larkin. “The lead times we are given are not as long as they were say three or four years ago, with a lot of planning having to happen at the last minute.”

This is because companies are leaving events to the very last minute, says Cloete. “The fact is that it becomes very difficult to pull off an event at such short notice and often it is more costly if you are having to deliver an event in a month that would usually take four or five months to plan.”
This trend has also become apparent at Protea Hotels. “We are seeing corporates book their year-end functions far later in the year than used to be the case as lead times have become shorter,” says Mabombo.

Shorter lead times can be extremely problematic in the high season, not only in terms of cost, but also availability. “One of the biggest challenges is the fact that resources overbook themselves during this period,” says Beatrix Lourens, owner of Beatrix Events.


Include the whole family

Bringing your staff’s family to the workplace year-end event is fast becoming a hot trend, says George Sutherland, owner of Event Wizards. “It goes a long way towards building a relationship between the company and employees and their families,” he says.

According to Cloete, family days are massive this year. “Extending spoiling of one’s employees to their loved ones does much for company morale – so in this regard food trucks are also a winner,” she says.

More and more corporates are also choosing to host functions at their own premises, Larkin adds. “This is far more cost-effective and through décor and theming, music and fun activities, they can take their employees to another world.”

“It is all about the experience,” says Larkin, adding that sharing that experience with their families makes all the difference.

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