Discussion about the latest trends from industry experts across catering, production design, decor and entertainment were sadly lacking at the ABEE What’s Hot session, with just two of the four presenters sticking to the brief.

Not that it was the panellists’ fault who were instead responding to questions from the facilitator on subjects ranging from information on their personal blogs, where they find inspiration, the role of technology at events, and for the international participant, what Australia does well in the event sector.

General manager of Hive Catering, Sarah Barker, and managing director of Apples and Pears Entertainment, Harris Meitanis, were the two panellists who did give insights on trends in their areas of specialisation.

Ms Barker said there was a trend towards a “casualisation” of dining at events – “a move away from the three course menu where everybody sits down for four hours around the table. People are moving towards share plates, grazing, more interaction, connection, engagement at events. Even [having] canapés as entrees and then sitting down for the main course; and then a dessert station or roaming dessert.”

She said Hive Catering was also seeing clients wanting more creativity on a tighter budget.  “It’s a challenge but it’s definitely achievable. You don’t need a massive budget to create that wow factor.”

Harris Meitanis said television programs like X Factor, Australia’s Got Talent, Idol and The Voice, were helping event planners use high quality entertainers at significantly reduced prices to bigger celebrities.

“Suddenly you have celebrity talent or minor celebrity talent that isn’t worth tens of thousands of dollars [and] well suited to playing at events,” he said.

Full report in micenet AUSTRALIA’s October 2013 edition.