2016 Event Trends

Being a phenomenal event planner means thinking differently and adopting new behaviours, It is not just about staying ahead of the competition, but changing the game by being unconventional, innovative and embracing new ways of the thinking.

The Meetings & Event Planner l 2016 Trend Report gives you the means to do just that.

Download here


How to Plan Your Event Catering

The 1802 Restaurant at d’Ouwe Werf. Stellenbosch

“Rubber chicken circuit” is a phrase commonly used to describe events such as the one you are aiming to host. This is because most business delegates and politicians attend several events during a year. To avoid falling into this category, assess the guest profile.

To plan the catering of your event, you will need to assess the following:
Guest Profile
Guest Preferences
Provide Menu Choices
Seasonal and Fresh Items
Menu that Fits the Event Schedule
Comfortable Room Setup
Anticipate Special Needs
Ethnic or Regional Menus
Final Presentation

What is your Guest Profile?
Professional level of your guest
Frequency your guest attends similar events
Location where guests reside
Ethnic background of your guests

What are your Guest Eating Preferences?
By understanding your guest profile you can consider what menu options to offer.

For example:
Attendees concerned about health may prefer more seafood and vegetables options
Older groups of attendees may prefer a milder menu
Younger or middle-aged attendees may prefer spicier, more adventurous meals
With this in mind, you can consider…

Providing Menu Choices
By offering several choices, you can be assured that all guests will be pleased with what’s available.

General guidelines are:
At least two probably three choices of entrees
Three or more salad dressing options
Serve all condiments on the side
Two dessert options: healthy and very indulgent

10 Hip Entertainment Ideas for Your Event

Event entertainment is big business. Event planners are simply spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing acts and performers for events, as there is a plethora of entertainment to choose from.

Bond tribute acts and stunt shows were hugely popular in 2012, thanks to the release of ‘Skyfall’ and the celebration of 50 years of this successful film franchise. But for 2013, there is a whole host of new and exciting acts ready to capture imaginations and seriously entertain the masses!

Event planners need to stay ahead of the game when booking entertainment to ensure that their event is fresh, talked about (for the right reasons!) and most of all, impresses all the right people.

To assist event planners in choosing fresh and unique entertainment, we have compiled a list of Top 10 entertainment ideas for the here and now. As well as being unique and exciting, we are predicting that these acts will be hugely sought after for events this year!

DJ’ing & VJ’ing

Simultaneously mixing music and visuals, this concept really is the future of club-style entertainment. Bringing music to life, this entertainment option can also add a social media element that allows guests to tweet their requests! The DJ can also include logos, videos and company visuals, making this the ideal entertainment for corporate events and launch parties!

Ipad Magician

For technology and gadget lovers/events, ipad magicians are the perfect act to amaze and entertain your guests. ipad magicians perform bespoke shows that include, of course, magic and the use of … erm… an ipad! This is entertainment for the digital age, and many high profile brands and events are eager to experience this unique brand of magical entertainment.

LED Dance shows

LED dance shows are proving to be a big hit so far this year, as event planners strive to find acts and performers that are unique and have added ‘wow factor’. LED dance shows are currently much sought after for launches, corporate events and concerts as they offer high tech entertainment that can include logos.

This entertainment option takes the urban dance act (so popular for the last few years thanks to shows like the ‘Got Talent’ franchise) to the next level!

Aroma DJ

They say that smells trigger memories right? Well why not ensure your guests remember your event with an aroma DJ! Using an ‘aroma laboratory’, these new and exciting DJs mix a blend of oils, incense and real pheromones; “controlling the vibes of the dancefloor by mixing a seamless blend of scents!”.

Some of the celebrities/brands that have experienced this “journey through the world of fragrance” include Isabella Rossellini, Vogue and Christian Dior. Great alternative entertainment for product launches, club nights and festivals!

Motion capture – animated digital character

Bringing technology to life for trade shows, conventions and exhibition events! Using the latest technology of pre-programmed motion capture, an actor controls the animated character allowing full audience interaction!

Motion capture acts offer a choice of existing animated characters to choose from, or the option to create a bespoke animation if required. This is a must-have for technology related events or for those that are looking for modern entertainment that will impress audiences.

Shadow Performers

As seen on the most recent series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, this new and exciting form of entertainment is predicted to be hot this year! Shadow shows are, of course, part shadow act, part dance and part circus.

This entertainment option, in its current form, originated in the US and uses projected images and front-of-screen choreography to amazing effect! Ideal for product launches and other events, this is definitely one to watch this year!

Urban Street Entertainment

Urban street entertainment has been experiencing a surge in popularity over recent years thanks to talent competition-style shows like ‘America’s Got Talent’ or Sky One’s ‘Got to Dance’. But new forms of urban street performance are evolving to keep up with demand for new and unique entertainment that has added ‘wow factor’. Urban Street entertainment that is fresh and exciting, or is predicted to be big this year:

• Beatboxers who perform with an instrument (i.e harmonica, flute etc), performing uptempo music that is combined with beatboxing and covers a range of genres from classical to movie soundtracks!

• Martial arts moves combined with urban street dance and ‘tricking’ (for those not in the know, ‘tricking’ is a kind of extreme sport where the performers do artistic flips and kicks). This entertainment option is great for launches, festivals, event openings and corporate events.

• Mixed urban dance and percussion groups whose shows include original, high-energy music (performed on everyday items like garbage cans and ladders) and choreography, as well as Cirque Du Soleil Style Acrobat’s and Gymnastics, Silk Aerialist’s, Jumping Boot Air Men and Contortionist’s! Be warned though: this show contains serious ‘wow factor’.

iPad Caricaturist

Pen and paper is so last century! This year’s hot new thing is ipad caricaturists who will draw guests on handheld devices that can be printed, emailed or posted to social media sites instantly!

Popular as walk-around entertainment for corporate events, parties and weddings; or to help increase footfall at trade shows and conventions. Brands using iPad caricaturists include Google and Apple.

3D Laser Man

A popular entertainment option for the first quarter of 2013, these futuristic shows push the boundaries of new 3d laser technology to great effect. Beams of light are manipulated and logos and images can also be incorporated into the show for corporate events. Brands using 3D laser man include Ferrari, Hyatt Hotels and IBM.

Vertical Performance Team

This is a unique and exciting entertainment option that will take high-profile launches and special events to dizzying new heights! Vertical performance shows offer something a little out of the ordinary; how about a troupe of acrobats who perform aerial routines whilst dangling from the side of a high-rise building?

These acts will thrill audiences with vertical spectacular productions and outstanding live shows!

May 24, 2013 | AUTHOR: Julius Solaris 

Conference Planning Guidelines


The amount of planning, committee work, advance deadlines, etc., in part depends on the size conference you are planning. Regional conferences require lots of planning and hard work.


Establish regular planning/reporting meetings. Set up email lists. Always make it clear who is supposed to do what and when. Keep minutes/notes of your meetings and use them to follow up. The more you communicate with each other, the less likely you’ll have slip ups.

Set a Date (12 Months)

The general time of the conference should be suggested. Then look at your campus schedule to determine what dates would be best. Consider the size and scope of your conference. Small groups can be hosted nearly any time. But larger groups will require housing, transportation, and food services that might conflict with other campus events. Summers and between semesters/quarters are often better than when school is in session. Avoid football and parent weekends if possible. Check for other major events that might conflict.

Considerations for selecting conference dates include:

  • Enough lead time to assure finding adequate meeting space.
  • Possible conflicts with other conferences or symposia that the members of this special interest group might attend.
  • Appropriate time of year for work loads of the proposed audience
  • Possible conflict with national and religious holidays.


When the conference is over, you don’t want to be left with a handful of bills for which you (or your department) are responsible. Careful planning (projecting costs) and money management can ensure that you’ll be financially solvent.

Before sending out the conference brochure/announcement, you must determine a conference registration fee. On the one hand, you want to cover your costs. But on the other, you want to keep the costs low so that as many people as possible can afford to come. Try to find a balance between providing the amenities, and keeping costs down. If your departmental budget allows for it, you can contribute to the conference (e.g., student wages, university vehicle rental, mailing costs, etc.) If not, these costs must be figured into the registration fees.

Be sure to include the following costs:


  • Publicity (brochure, printing, mailing),
  • facilities (lab fees, equipment rentals),
  • staff (student or other wages),
  • transportation (university vehicles),
  • meals (snacks, meals),
  • conference materials (packets, name tags, etc.)



Remember that you can always do things more cheaply if you don’t count all the costs… so count them!

Attendees should be expected to pay their registration fees in advance. This helps provide an accurate picture of the number who will attend because the attendees are more committed to attending. You can consider a slightly higher fee for late registrations or registrations onsite, if your food and facilities planning can handle extra last-minute registrations. Refunds should be allowed, but not after deadlines for food and facilities counts have passed.

You should work with your institution to determine the best (i.e., most prudent) method for handling registration fees and for paying conference bills. Be clear up front what accounting procedures are to be used (for example, what kind of documentation will be required to get reimbursements from this account.)

Don’t minimize the importance of a detailed accounting of your conference funds. Setting things up right before you begin to receive registrations fees can make things a lot easier during and after the conference.


A good program is critical. Look for variety, interest, timeliness. What do your members need or want to leave with? Try to balance lectures with discussions, hands on, social activities, and time for colleague interaction.

A general call for presenters should have a deadline that gives you ample time to recruit and to fill in gaps should you not get all the good proposals you need. Network with other members of your organization to identify people who might be invited to make presentations. Experience shows that some recruiting will be necessary, even if proposals are abundant.

Immediately after the deadline, begin organizing the conference schedule. Select the proposals you want to use and contact them to verify their availability. Create a tentative schedule, matching presenters to the facilities. You may want to lay out your schedule on a whiteboard, or use 3×5 cards on a corkboard so you can visualize how things fit together. For example, you don’t want all of your sessions on hiring student employees to take place on the same day and time. Make sure you plan time for attendees to talk with each other, such as at breaks, before and after dinners, at receptions, etc.

Send a formal acceptance note to each participant, and ask them to confirm by sending an abstract (if you didn’t get that as part of their submission) and submitting a request for any special equipment (AV, computer, etc.)

Management Tools

Unless you have only a handful of people attending your conference, you’ll need some sort of management system. In most cases, a simple merge database will suffice for mailings, conference lists, generation of name tags, etc. For larger conferences, consider a more capable database that also can handle many fields (e.g., presenter status, dietary requirements, etc.) For income and expenses, you may need a spreadsheet program. And unless you have a graphics department to prepare your program and brochures, plan on learning more about your favorite word processing program.


Promoting your conference begins by posting the date and location on web sites. If you have the expertise and resources, you should consider setting up your own conference web site for up-to-date information, on-line registration, proposal submissions, etc.

The first wave of publicity comes with the call for presentations. Also, consider electronic mailings and posting to a web site.

The next wave comes as you send out the conference announcement, with as much detail as you have, including a tentative program. This is important if you want to convince people they should come. Set a registration deadline that accounts for your own deadlines (food services, etc.) You may have to consider a higher fee for those who are late, especially if that really does incur additional costs for you.


Exhibits take a lot of work to coordinate and set up. The larger the conference, the easier it will be to convince vendors to participate. Smaller conferences may not even want to have exhibits. If you do have an exhibit, assign a committee member to be in charge rather than taking this on yourself.

An exhibit hall must be easily accessible and must have adequate space to accommodate vendor booths. There may be costs associated with such a hall. Some facilities require that their own people set things up. Make sure you know what is included with any rental costs, and what you may have to pay extra for.  Make sure that there is adequate time for attendees to visit the exhibits.


Adequate limo or shuttle services from the airport.  If the housing is not within walking distance to the conference, in case of bad weather, or for handicapped assistance, you should provide for shuttles.  Be sure to calculate all the costs for this service if you want to include it as part of the registration fee.

Conference Materials

At a minimum, you need to provide some sort of printed program. For most conferences, the following is usually adequate:


  • a simple folder with program, maps,
  • lists of local restaurants and attractions,
  • a name tag, and
  • writing materials (pen and pad).


Name Tags

If you plan properly, you should be able to generate name tags to be printed from your conference database program.

Keep the name tag layout simple: a small conference logo or title, the person’s full name in LARGE, readable letters, and the person’s institution. Don’t make people squint to read names on name tags.

The actual type of name tag (paper stick-on, pin on plastic case, hang-around-the-neck, etc.) depends on your preferences and budget. If you do provide stick-on tags, you may want to generate at least one tag for each day of the conference since they won’t be able to reuse the tags. If you use plastic badges, you can invite attendees to recycle them at the end of the conference.

Equipment and Support

This is another critically important part of the conference, it’s a demanding and time-consuming responsibility.  To the extent that you can, schedule conference sessions in rooms that have basic AV equipment (overhead projectors and screens, for example). If the rooms already have computers and computer/video projection, that’s even better. Then assign conference sessions to the appropriate rooms.

Determine ahead of time what portable equipment you have available, and whether you have to rent equipment. Then when you confirm conference presentations, ask presenters to provide you with a list of equipment they need.

Once rooms and equipment are assigned, the person in charge should organize support to make sure equipment is in place and working, and to move it as needed. For larger conferences, assigning support staff to a specific presenter/room and having them contact each other before the session can be helpful.

You might also consider having a central equipment distribution room, not only for security of equipment, but also so conference presenters know where they can go for help, or to pick up that extra extension cord.


These should be considered as part of the equipment.  Presenters should supply information as to the platform (Mac, PC), operating system, hardware requirements (disk space, RAM, CPU speed), application software, network connections required, etc. If you can set up computers ahead of time, based on presenter needs, that’s great. You will want to make equipment available to presenters ahead of time so they can set up software and make sure they operate as expected. If software is installed, make sure it’s clear who cleans up (removes) such software after the session.


Depending on the size and scope of the conference, you may need to provide for one or more social activities for attendees.  At smaller conferences, organized dinners at local restaurants can be enjoyable. For larger conferences, a banquet may be in order. At the very least, provide a list of recommended local eateries for those who want to venture out on their own.

You should also consider whether your locale has something uniquely interesting to offer. If feasible, you could organize a group outing to a play, local site, etc. Be sure to determine whether costs are included in the registration, or if it is to be a separate (and therefore optional) cost.

If yours is a very large conference, you may want to offer optional activities for families, especially if your locale, weather, and schedule promise to attract families and friends of conference attendees.

Whatever you plan, however, be sure to include some free time for people to do things on their own.


Reserve Rooms

One of your very first items of business should be to reserve necessary rooms for plenary sessions, breakout sessions, exhibits, breaks, receptions, and conference headquarters/registration.

Thoughts on meeting rooms:


  • Ballrooms for plenary sessions, food functions
  • Registration area
  • Conference office
  • Email room/documentation room
  • Speaker prep area
  • Hospitality area (see note below)
  • Message Board/Info area
  • A/V and other secure storage area
  • Board meeting space
  • Poster Session space




Estimate the number of people you think might attend and make arrangements accordingly. Block some rooms at a local motel/hotel. When making reservations with local hotels, negotiate other amenities if possible such as shuttle services (from airports, to conference sessions). Find out how long reservations can be held, cancellation deadlines, etc.


Well-planned meals and snacks are critical to a successful conference. Determine what is needed, and what it will cost.   Be sure to negotiate food services. Usually food planners will allow up to 10% more people than you contract for (e.g., for late registrations), but be sure this is clear up front.

For small conferences, many if not most of the meals can be left up to the attendees. Be sure to provide a good list of local eateries. Include information about which are within walking distance, which are not, and how to get to those that are not.

Strategically scheduled snack breaks, with drinks and fruit or cookies, can add a touch of class to your conference. These don’t usually cost too much, and can be covered by registration fees. Don’t skimp on the time allotted for breaks, since attendees will want to network and will take the time anyway.

If you do have group meals, be sure to allow for special dietary considerations. Also, work with your campus to determine when (or if) alcohol can be served, for example, at a cash bar reception.


Decisions to be made:  Who, What, When, Where, How


Conference, Meeting, Event  


Select Date/time  




Distinguished Lecture



Select Location

  • Hotel/Meeting facilities
    • Plenary room requirements
    • Breakout room requirements
    • Breakouts
  • Agenda/activities/procedures for each
  • Materials
  • Equipment/Supply requirements
  • Evaluations
  • Plans for post event data
  • Meals



  • Planning
  • Event



  • Plenary sessions
  • Breakouts
  • Meals
  • Evening event/Entertainment
  • Video/audio recording
  • Seating










Things which are considered when choosing a hotel include:

  • Meeting space (recommend 24 hr hold if possible). Easier to release than book
  • Sleeping room block – Sometimes underestimates needs – understand your contract and book to reasonable max
  • Internet connection for meeting and sleeping rooms
  • Comfortable food space – hotels underestimate comfort needs
  • Copying – where can you get inexpensive copying 24 hours a day.
  • Hotel and A/V contacts specified – and restrictions – some hotels require that you pay them a percentage of what you would have rented if you bring it in from another source.


Other items to consider after a hotel is booked:

  • Get it all in writing esp. when changes to the original agreements are made.
  • It never hurts to ask for whatever you think you want
  • Find out the “key phrase” needed for registering rooms at conference
  • Know what complimentary suite(s) you will have (see note below)
  • Hotel diagrams – do a walk through of hotel in preparation for planning and another when your program is being fleshed out
  • Clear identification of who has authorization for approving additional costs
  • Be clear on confirmation dates
  • Ask about complimentary hotel limo airport pickup for conference/program chairs if desired



Thoughts on location:

  • Overflow hotel nearby
  • Restaurants in walking distance
  • Safe neighborhood
  • Easy airport transportation
  • Running/walking routes



Thoughts on facilities:

  • Spacious size meeting rooms
  • Sufficient number of meeting rooms
  • Traffic flow (see note below)
  • Availability of internet connection (and wireless) at a reasonable cost
  • ADA requirements
  • Acceptable sleeping rooms and amenities
  • Exercise facilities
  • Lockable areas
  • Understand hotel’s food and beverage limitations e.g. provide vegan, gluten free, or Kosher meals
  • Adequate restroom facilities, both location and number.



Hospitality Suite
The hospitality suite is a room, a suite, an area where people can stop in either during the day or just in the late evening to relax, have something to drink (soft or hard), talk, or listen to music. It does not have to be fancy. You can be very flexible on this space.


Traffic Flow
You may think this a strange thing to check for but in some hotels the ballroom spaces are on different floors from the meeting spaces – or the hotel plans to convert the ballroom into the smaller meeting spaces during the breaks and expects the attendees to remain in the break area for close to the entire 1/2 hour.

11 Tips for Booking your next Keynote Speaker

Don’t overlook these important tips to help you find a winning speaker for your event:

  • Years of experience as a speaker – no less than 3 to 5 years for the real thing.
  • International experience – this is rare and is a high credibility marker.
  • Range of experience – look for a good mix of corporate, community and other types of audiences, not just 1 type of audience.
  • Size of audiences if a speaker can move a large audience 500+ they will be good with small and large. Check – if they only have experience with small groups, be more cautious.
  • Social Upliftment –if a speaker has social development or charity speaking experience you know you have someone who cares about empowering people.
  • Willing to take a brief –ask if the speaker is willing to take a full brief about the audience and the objectives.
  • Reliablity – believe it or not, some professionals don’t show up for their bookings and don’t care. Look closely at the resume and ask if they have ever not showed up for a booked talk.
  • Humour & Heart –experience proves that humour and heartfelt inspiration are the most effective motivational talks, so look for that winning combination.
  • Good references –it goes without saying that a speaker should be able to give you a list of testimonials with people’s names and company names.
  • Showreel and photos –ask for a showreel (clips of talks) or photos so that you can get a clearer idea of the speaker in action.
  • Go direct-bureaus perform a valuable function, but very few speakers have exclusivity agreements, so it is often possible to book with a speaker directly.
  • Erik Vermeulen