Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

May 16, 2014

Offsite Events: Beyond the Golf Course


Rumored to be haunted, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, offers a spooky offsite option.


Our event director, Donna Labriola, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Meeting events, and read more about trends here.

What do live music, rock climbing, speed karts, stadium tours, and museums all have in common? They are all great places to take a group and enjoy some offsite fun!

So often we get stuck in a rut and can’t think of anything else but the available event space on site, but there are great event spaces available all around the cities we visit. After all, what better way to refresh and rally a sales team than a friendly but competitive race around a speed track, or bond a management team than a tour through a local haunted house. Immersing your group in the local sites can take your attendee experience to the next level and really give them the chance to enjoy the city and the group in a new way. Seek out a new restaurant in the area for a food pairing or a meet and greet with the chef.

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

Headed to Arizona? Group kart racing at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler is a great way to let your inner speed demon come out.


Photo by Christy Sharp

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, favorite with its history and spooky stories to go along with the tour. (The historic mansion also recently announced a plan to begin offering overnight lodging, so a haunted tour may soon be an onsite activity.)


Hopwater Distribution, San Franscisco

Find a restaurant like Hopwater Distribution in San Francisco, a gastro tavern featuring 31 beers on tap from around California and a selection of bar bites, such as the the popular Dungeness Tater Tots or Deviled Eggs with Bacon Jam.  The restaurant is available for private events and beer dinners hosted by Beer Chef Bruce Paton.

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May 02, 2014

Trend of the Week: Marquee Signs

Our event director, Donna Labriola, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Meeting events, and read more about trends here.

The marquee sign is a flash from the past that is making a comeback in big way.  Whether you go for the soft yellow glow or a flashy blinking sign, it will make a statement at your event.  Use these signs to identify key areas around your event, such as the food, cocktails or even a company logo.  Marquee signs can be used to create anticipation at your event, highlight a performance or entice your guests to partake in a photo at the photo booth. Try a marquee sign at your next event to build excitement.

This “Food & Wine” sign was used to highlight a lounge area at a New York event:


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March 25, 2014

Kimpton Joins Juicing Craze

Kimpton’s juice menu features three flavorful varieties


Boosting its reputation for wellness offerings, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has launched a new juicing menu at 10 hotels across the country.

The 16-ounce offerings are made from freshly picked fruits and vegetables and are aimed at boosting energy and improving health. Three varieties are available:

Beets Me consists of red beets, carrots, ginger and cilantro.
Being Green is a nutrient-rich mixture of cucumber, celery, spinach, kale and lemon.
Local Only is a cocktail made from nearby farm produce. The host chef at each property creates the concoction, which blends ingredients such as green apples, whole passion fruit, kale and celery.

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February 25, 2014

We Want More, Speakers!

Laura Schwartz speaking at the Smart Meeting Palm Springs earlier this month


Meetings and conference organizers now are expecting more from their speakers, including leveraging contact marketing and maximizing sponsors’ return on investment, according to the 2013 Speaker Report.

The survey, in which 175 organizations participated, provides comprehensive and up-to-date information about speakers in the meetings market. Tagoras and Velvet Chainsaw, two consulting firms, collaborated on the survey after their initial effort, The Speakers Report, which they devised in 2011 to better understand how organizations use professional and industry speakers at meetings, conferences and other events. In the surveys, they focused on how speakers are selected, what is expected of them and how their educational impact is measured, among other things.

The companies’ report, at, lists 10 top takeaways from the 2013 survey that emphasize new trends.

–Organizations use professional speakers more and more: In 2013, organizations surveyed reported using 14.6 speakers per year, compared with 11.2 in the 2011 survey.

Speaker bureaus are one option for do-it-yourselfers, not a sole source: 74.2 percent used a speaker bureau frequently or sometimes to find a speaker, but only 7.3 percent say they always use one.

Hiring decisions are shifting from C-suite to the education department: In 2013, the organization’s vice president or director of education or professional development decided which speakers to hire 22.7 percent of the time, a leap from 13.5 percent in 2011.

Organizers expect more from their professional speakers: 66.1 percent of respondents said they are looking for speakers to contribute more than just their time on stage, compared with 56.6 percent in 2011.

What in a name? Maybe not much: Just 28.3 percent of respondents believe that a big-name speaker is very or extremely important for attracting registrants.

Proposal review is too nice: 33.3 percent report that they accept 60 percent or more of submissions that come in through their call for proposals and 29 percent accept between 40 and 50 percent of them. Organizations that want to be industry leaders probably need better filters, the report concluded.

Compensation for industry speakers is soft: Since they have tight budgets, conference organizers often offer complimentary registration rather than paying for travel, lodging or honoraria.

Shifting evaluations to digital isn’t a layup: Moving to mobile and online evaluations appeals to meeting planners for several reasons, but low response rates and technological headaches dampen enthusiasm.

Content capture hasn’t taken off—yet: Use of streaming and content capture to amplify the best meeting content has remained stable since the 2011 survey. The 2013 report predicts that more organizations will embrace content capture with scheduled replays, but doesn’t anticipate much growth in live streaming.

Education still isn’t getting the respect it deserves: Similar to the 2011 findings, the 2013 report shows that the title of the most senior member of their organization’s education or professional development unit is a director (46.7 percent) or a manager (8.9 percent). The report concludes that a top-ranking person needs to be involved with an organization’s high-level education strategy.

—Dan Johnson

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January 10, 2014

Trend of the Week: Artsy Bagels

Our event coordinator, Cassie McNair, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Events, and read more about trends here.

It’s a new year, so out with the old, in with the new. What’s out? Same-old, same-old breakfast stations. Eggs? Sausage? Not in 2014.

What’s in? It’s all about the bagel craze—specifically, topping everybody’s favorite ring-shaped bread product with unexpected toppings. For your next event, provide your attendees the opportunity to eat art.  Go beyond cream cheese and top bagels with sun-dried tomatoes and basil, fresh fruit, breakfast cereal, avocado, chocolate and marshmallows. Have these bagels already dressed up and ready to be devoured for your next breakfast station.  The ideas and creative toppings can be endless, plus the touch of color is a fun addition!

—Cassie McNair

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December 20, 2013

Trend of the Week: Edible Flower Power

Ojai Valley Inn in Southern California used flowers to add excitement to appetizer plates during the
Smart Event Ojai in November.


Our event coordinator, Cassie McNair, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Events, and look for our 2014 trends report in our upcoming January issue.

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Both are edible—it’s true! You may be surprised by the wide variety of flora that can be safely consumed, from the sweet taste of dandelions to the citrus overtones of hibiscus. Though most of us generally still think of flowers as something to be admired with the eyes as opposed to the taste buds, a trend has been blossoming in recent years among chefs. More and more, pedals are used to add colorful garnishes or exotic flavors to dishes.

Examples can be found across the country: In Savannah, Ga., Elizabeth on 37th grows its own flowers alongside the herbs and vegetables in its garden and adds them to soups and salads.

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December 09, 2013

Survey: Planners to Use More Tech at 2014 Meetings

Forty-eight percent of planners say their meetings will have more of a technological footprint in 2014,
according to a new survey

Nearly half of meeting planners participating in a national survey say they will be using more technology in their 2014 meetings.

The 2014 State of the Meetings Industry survey, conducted by Destination Hotels & Resorts, was completed in September by 181 corporate, association, independent and government meeting planners throughout the United States. The survey also generated some other significant trends, including the following:

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December 06, 2013

Trend of the Week: Unique Spins on Favorite Foods

French fry station at the Smart Event at Ojai Valley Inn

Our event coordinator, Cassie McNair, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Events, and read more about trends here.

Wowing attendees doesn’t have to mean serving them some crazy food item or cuisine they’ve never heard of before. All it takes is presenting something simple in a different way. In other words, take something your guests know and love and make a unique serving bar out of all of the flavors and types.

At our most recent Smart Event at Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in Ojai, Calif., attendees fell in love with the mushroom station.  The property set up a table with a variety of mushrooms—including oyster, shiitake, Portobello, enoki, crimini and button—sauteed with fresh herbs. They could top them with fresh garlic, grilled tomato chutney, herb croutons and boursin cheese sauce. It was a simple set up, with an outstanding response. 

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November 27, 2013

IMEX Predications for 2014: Happiness Rules

Show floor at IMEX America 2013

It’s never too early to begin reflecting on what the new year has in store. The IMEX Group, which annually stages impressive international meeting and event trade shows in Frankfurt and Las Vegas, offers up a few predictions for 2014 thanks to speaker and expert anecdotes from IMEX America 2013.

1.    Content Gets Bigger as Attention Spans Grow Shorter

Content now defines meeting and event type, not the other way around. The incredible growth of YouTube, TED and short, sharp TV and video news clips (including the birth of super-bite-sized Vine) means attention spans are shorter than ever. Four minutes is a lifetime online. Expect meetings and event content to be delivered in ever more entertaining, diverse and digestible pieces. The label ‘hybrid’ fades away as all meetings and events become multifaceted and multidimensional for participants on and offsite.

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November 11, 2013

Stronger Meetings Growth Forecast for 2014

The show floor opens on day one of IMEX 2013
in Frankfurt

Despite economic challenges, the meetings industry is on the verge of significantly stronger future growth, according to an annual survey of international hosted buyers who attended the IMEX trade show in Frankfurt this past May.

The survey, which was conducted by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and IMEX, was completed by 92 buyers, 77 percent of whom organized meetings in 2013 and more than 17 percent of whom coordinated events for more than 5,000 delegates. The results were released in September, and among the top findings:

–Nearly 30 percent of respondents said that they will be running more meetings in 2014 than they did in 2013. This is an 8 percent jump from the 2012 survey.

–Less than 7 percent plan to organize fewer meetings, compared with 11 percent in 2012.

–Nearly 47 percent are projecting higher attendance than in the previous year, compared with 40 percent who said so in 2012. Nine percent expect their attendance to drop, compared with 10 percent in 2012.

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