Industry Trends for 2018 – racing to stay relevant

Recent surveys have shown the catering and events industry is being disrupted in ways no one could have predicted just a few years ago. People aren’t connecting in the same way, and expectations have changed. To stay relevant in this game, you need to adapt and be forward-thinking or risk being left behind.

In a recent survey, we asked catering and event professionals what was most important to them, and they told us they needed the tools, technology, and training to do their jobs better. Those who are new in their careers are looking for education. Seasoned professionals are looking for innovative professional development. The commonality is that everyone needs to do more with less, and we are turning to organizations and conferences that serve as essential resources in offering high-quality professional development.

Online and in person

Live, face-to-face events will always be the most genuine way to connect, but showing the value of attendance is becoming increasingly more challenging. Creating unique learning opportunities, like tech labs, will allow people to network, learn, and access tools and data. This will be the key to helping our industry evolve and stay current.

Dynamic, vibrant communities, both online and in person, are fundamental to the success and growth of catering and events professionals. Creating a shared vision and working together to accomplish common goals will strengthen us as professionals, as well as provide us with a support system to expand our businesses. NACE is partnering with professional communities and partners, like the EIC and Catersource, to provide access to premier resources and communities. Expect to see a strong movement toward idea-sharing in these conceptual formats, along with member-centric services to keep information at your fingertips and keep you on top of your game.

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Trends in design and décor are leaning toward clean aesthetics and eye-catching elements that provide sensory experiences for guests. Include brand signage, hashtags, VR, AR, and gobos that create texture on tents or ballroom walls. The year ahead will be marked by attitude of #MoreIsMore.

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Catering & event trends

Catering trends include a desire for experiences, not just meals. Be sure to include examples of menus and service styles that you can customize to the event, because people want to feel as if the menu was written specifically for them and their soiree. Keep health-conscious decisions and portion control in mind when designing menu options, as well. Sustainable, healthy and responsibly sourced menu items are not just a trend, but a new norm.

Trends in design and décor are leaning toward clean aesthetics and eye-catching elements that provide sensory experiences for guests. Include brand signage, hashtags, VR, AR, and gobos that create texture on tents or ballroom walls. The year ahead will be marked by attitude of #MoreIsMore.

No longer are companies just “vendors” to you, but creative partners. Instead of being everything to everyone, aim to find your niche in the market, and then partner with the finest in the industry to capitalize on your strengths and provide a one-stop-shop experience for clients.

Don’t be shy. Make 2018 the year in which you showcase your talents. Become a breakout star in your local catering and event community by sharing your expertise at local programs, offer mentoring to up-and-coming professionals, and have your company give back to a charity in your community.

Creating awareness about the value of the difference a quality professional makes will amplify the quality, relevance and consistency of our industry. Look to associations and communities that have strong connections, are consistently updating their strategies to stay nimble in ever-changing markets and aren’t afraid to set new standards in participation and engagement.

Cheers to a successful 2018 and beyond! #NACEis60

Kate Patay

Chief Strategist, Patay Consulting

Kate Patay is chief strategist, Patay Consulting, an event and hospitality consulting service, Reno, NV.