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Ballroom bliss

Using an annual event to showcase trends offers great ROI

To showcase its 1,200 person capacity Royal Grand Ballroom with English Manor-inspired interior, 15-foot ceilings, Italian marble flooring, and Murano glass chandeliers, the Rochester, MI-based Royal Park Hotel showcased the industry’s most recent trends at its annual Ballroom Bliss event—a platform that exhibits its vendors’ floral and event designs, as well as its own culinary creations.

Photo: Sam Sarkis Photography

Hotel representative Kaity Jerolamon says, “Admission is free, but this is an invite-only event, exclusive to our couples who have weddings or showers booked with us during 2015 and 2016. We also invite prospective guests who are on the cusp of booking an event with us, yet need a little nudge in the right direction.”

Kaity Jerolamon

Ballroom Bliss is a means to show clients innovative food and beverage trends that can be incorporated into a wedding or shower, as well as allow the hotel’s trusted, preferred vendors (floral, linen, event design, cakes, etc.) to showcase their talents. Each vendor gets a table or a portion of the ballroom to exhibit their products and current trends in varied and creative ways, giving couples the opportunity to feel almost as if they were attending their own lavish wedding reception.

How successful is the annual Ballroom Bliss? Says Janet Engelhardt, Director of Catering, “We anticipate a ROI of approximately $100,000 over the next year from upsells, closure of potential events, and creative add-ons. From guest feedback, we know if we have hit a homerun or if we need to go back to the drawing board. This is our way of giving our guests the opportunity to see, feel, taste, and experience what we offer before purchasing. We hope to inspire our guests to add creativity and personality to their events, while adding revenue to our bottom line.”

Read on for some of the trendy takeaways from the 2015 Ballroom Bliss event.

Fabric trends & textures

Mixing textures and textiles was a popular trend found among the talented designers at Ballroom Bliss. Todd Hardiak of Colonial Event, Troy, MI, layered and draped two varied fabric textures for his display, with chandeliers hanging at eye level in between, accented with a wall of roses and hydrangeas by Bellisario Florist, Eastpointe, MI, to add yet another texturized element.

Jerome Raska of Blumz by JRDesigns (Ferndale, MI) agreed that textures are popular in the event industry, though burlap is disappearing. “Now it’s all about the naturals mixed in with glamour.” Raska’s observation was reflected in Blumz’s display, which featured blush linens with a lace and sequin overlay, as well as a birch branch centerpiece intertwined with votive candles and fresh florals.

Pin to win

Social media has become a huge game-changer in the event world in general—so it seemed natural to incorporate into the event. The hotel held its first ever “Pin to Win” contest, encouraging guests to re-pin photos from its Pinterest account. Prompting guests to share their photos and favorite moments on social media continues brand engagement, even after an event has ended, says Jerolamon.

Delicious nibbles

Royal Park Hotel unveiled its take on the wildly popular “avocado toast” trend with a bruschetta bar, called the Smash Station, featuring four takes on bruschetta with warm grilled breads and garnished with zesty, vibrant micro greens. The Smash Station options ranged from the already trendy avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt combination to more complex variations: white bean and thyme purée with eggplant carbonara, as well as herbed goat cheese with pickled beets.

Photo: Arising Images

Beverage trends

“While some may believe the art of craft cocktails is a disappearing fad, this trend isn’t going away anytime soon,” says Royal Park Hotel Senior Social Catering Manager Kathleen Reid, who was recently named Catering Professional of the Year by the Detroit chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE). The hotel introduced three of its newest craft cocktails: Elderflower Lemon Drop, Seasonal Red Sangria, and Royal Hawaii Mai Tai. The new drinks are made with fresh, high-quality ingredients to ensure each cocktail surpassed the ordinary.

 

RECIPE: Elderflower Lemon Drop

This cocktail, created by director of restaurants Matthew Prost, is a delicious and fresh cocktail, perfect for enjoying during the heat of summer.

Ingredients

1-1/4 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka

¾ oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

1 oz housemade sour mix*

Method

Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Add ice, shake, and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

* RPH did not reveal the recipe for housemade sour, but Catersource suggests combining equal parts of water and sugar in a small pot n the stovetop and simmering until the sugar completely dissolves. Turn off the heat and add an equal part of lemon or lime juice (or combination). Stir to combine, strain, and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Catersource, which includes print and digital content, as well as live education at both Catersource, the Art of Catering Food, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit.