Event Trends 2019

Trendwatcher Tom Palmaerts is back in our studio and gives you insight into the hottest trends in the event industry. And how to translate these to your events.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Trendwatcher Tom Palmaerts is back in our studio and gives you insight into the hottest trends among young people. And how to translate these to your events.


Hi Tom, welcome back to our studio. It's been a while.


Hi Kevin. Yeah.


You brought some new trends for us.


Yeah, yeah.

This time I have some more long-term trends with me. Trends that are not directly translated to, like, interior, or: do something like this and then be trendy. But more things that we really need to think about. That I think that the event industry is the right place to deal with this.

First trend is food waste.


That's a big topic.


That's a very big topic. We shouldn't be really proud as a Belgian, about our food waste. Actually, if you take the average Belgian person and you look at the world, we actually should need five planets to live on.


Oh my God.


So, our ecological footprint is really bad. If you look at food waste in Europe, if you look at the average, Belgian food waste is the triple of it.




So, we're really, really bad in this. I think we need to, of course, reduce our waste. But also, we really need to rethink what we eat and what we drink.

Oxfam did a research a few years ago and they warned us that the food prices might double by 2030. So, we really need to rethink what we eat. And how we eat it. And how much we eat.

Now, in food waste, I think the event industry, hospitality industry can do something with it.


We also create a lot of food waste.


You create a lot of food waste. But not only you. The industry and consumers as well. Consumers are really bad with that. But I think you can educate people. You can show how it can be different. So, it's about bringing a sensation, but also a bit of education. Of what's possible.

For instance, Foodmakers has now, I call the plates, that you can actually eat.


You can eat the plate?


You can eat, yeah. So, why not have, for instance, a cup of coffee and afterwards, you can eat your cup. Maybe that's an idea for Lotus. So, you can have a coffee and afterwards your Lotus cookie. So, you can go home and say: you know what, I just ate a coffee. I had a coffee and then I had to eat the cup. That's a wonderful story and it shows that you're thinking of a more sustainable environment for your hospitality.


And at the same time, it can create business value.


Yeah, of course. Definitely.

Another idea is: what can we eat? Of course, we've been talking about insects already, for a long time.


That's still difficult for some people.


It's still difficult. It shouldn't be. But it's still difficult, of course.

But seaweed... That's the right word? Seaweed is a very big opportunity. There's a lot of seaweed out there.


Good nutritions in that.


It's very healthy. It's very tasteful. I met a company called Oleg. So, they're from the Netherlands. And they are bringing, for instance, seaweed burgers. I'm a meat lover, you know. But that's great. That's really delicious.


Yeah, there are good alternatives.


There are really great alternatives. And seaweed is a very good example.

I think, if we can really think about insects and seaweed, and if we can do it good, we might, could, end the idea of hunger in the world. Cause there's so much there and you can do so much with it. So, I think we really need to experiment and try out seaweed. Through market research, we know that you can't say seaweed. You have to say sea vegetables.


Why is that?


If we see seaweed, we think: yuk, that's the dirty stuff in the sea. But sea vegetables, that sounds healthy.


We grow them then.


We grow them. So, you should sell it as sea vegetables and people will love it. And even meat lovers will love it. So, please, be conscious about food waste. And show that we can... You know, the plastics, the... How do you call it?


The straws?


The straws. Don't give that. Don't do that anymore. That's so unconscious. Don't do it. And I think, if you will do it, the next years you will get people angry. People are really gonna react on it.


And that's a good thing.


So please...

It's a good thing. But I wouldn't be like the event organizer, that gives and then gets smashed back in the face.


And everybody a plastic bag when they go home.


Yeah, it's... Rethink this. We see that it is a problem, from a world perspective. But we also see that consumers are thinking more and more about this.


Okay, so we have food waste. What else do you have?


Wellness. We see that, in tourism, wellness, the next five years, will... To 10% bigger. So, it will grow, every year, 10%. People are searching for good quality of food. They travel to Noma, to eat. They travel to wellness hotels, wellness bars. People would like to travel for wellness.


So, our next event in a spa or something?


Yeah, think about a spa. And then ask me as a speaker. No, I think we need to approach health and wellness from a more holistic point-of-view. It's not only about what we eat. It's also what we drink. What we smell. What we hear. Think about: how can we help people have a great day?

Don't give them sugar in the morning, because we always do it. Because, if you give them sugar, at ten they get tired again. So, one of the ingredients I really like is matcha. The green tea. Use this as an ingredient for chocolate or use this as an ingredient for your milk and...

It's energizing, you can concentrate better, but it's not a kick like coffee does. It's not kicking in, it's coming in very slowly. And you keep on being in focus.


You feel better.


You feel better. So, use this type of ingredients, to help people to feel better.

Know that sitting is the new smoking, so let people stand up. Let people walk around. Use smell to give people a good vibe.

Work together with smell artists to know what kind of smell you need to use in the morning, during the dip at ten o'clock, eleven o'clock. Use those elements to give people a better feeling.

Cause if we are traveling the world for wellness, then we're probably gonna travel to your event, if it's a wellness place. 


It can be an advantage to come.


Yeah, definitely. It's not only about the speaker. We want to go to places where we feel good. And we would get energized. And that we can go home and feel like: yeah, let's go for it. And that's why health should be a very holistic point-of-view. It's about what you eat, what you smell, what you...

Sound is also very important. We see that more and more people are having problems with too much sound.


Noise and that.


Noise. We can't concentrate anymore. Everybody's talking, everybody's...

We need to focus. We need to listen.


So, a venue with a good acoustic and things like that.


Yes, it's extremely, extremely essential. I know that a lot of architects keep on forgetting this. But this is really, really crucial.


Okay, so we have food waste. We have wellness. And you also had a third.


Yeah and that's a bit... Well, it's a heavy number. There's been research in Belgium that boys and girls in their twenties, 54% of them feel lonely.


That's huge.


That is an incredible number. And I know that it's not something that we talk a lot about. But loneliness is a big issue. And I think it's gonna be a big issue in the next ten, twenty years.


Yeah and if you look at Facebook, we have all thousands of friends.


Yes, we have thousands of friends on Facebook, on Instagram, on...


But still, we are lonely.


But then again, we're lonely.

And if you look at the workforce, the past ten years, longer even, we started working, all together, in one big space. And we started doing this because we thought that then people would collaborate more, work together more. But we see that, from we started doing this, the amount of face-to-face interaction dropped with 73%. 73%. Yes, we're emailing, we're Slacking, we're chatting. But we don't have a face-to-face conversation anymore. And I think that, in scarcity, this becomes new luxury. Having a good conversation.


And maybe it's the reason of existence for events.


Yes, I think the number one... For me, the number one characteristic of an event is bringing people together. So, if you know this, as an event organizer, you should think about templates. Hacking systems. To get people to connect to each other.

I know that there are more and more software applications to do this.


Yeah. And there's an app for everything.


Those apps, although great ideas, don't always work that much.

I think, definitely in Belgium, it should be very easy. Like ask people to look to your left and say hello to the person there. Like do something very, very easy. You don't have to...

We are Belgians, we don't like holding each other’s hands and singing with each other. I work in the United States a lot. That's like: now stand up everyone, give each other a hug.

Like: we're Belgians. We're not gonna do that.


So, there's also a cultural difference.


There's a big cultural difference. But, if you know that we, every moment that there is silence, every moment that there is a pause, every moment that there's a kind of awkwardness, people just take their phone. And look at their phone. Sometimes it's because of their work. Sometimes it's necessary. But most of the times, it's because they wanna fill in the moment of rest. But, of course, if they're doing this, they can't connect with the person next to them. And I think...


They could send them a message.


You could start chatting, like...


Hi, I'm the one next to you.


I know that this is the new way of dating. Like: what's your phone number? You get the phone number and then you ask: can we date? I know that this is the new way of dating.


Or swipe.


But having a great conversation... I think, when your audience goes home, they will get back: I listened to this person or that person and I take this knowledge with me. Or: I had a great moment and great food. Or whatever. But the best thing they take with them, is a person they get in touch with. And the conversations they had. And, as a speaker, that's...

You need to understand that it's not about you, it's actually about them and connecting to each other.

And also, as an event organizer, you can have the best speakers you can have, but it's all about the audience.

It's about the audience. Getting them together, getting connected to each other. And we need to push them a little bit. Cause we're, somehow, we're not used to that anymore. And we rather choose our phone, than to have this good conversation. And if you know that 54% of people in their twenties are feeling lonely, it's definitely something that we should work on. And that has the opportunity for the event industry. Cause the event industry is all about bringing people together. So, please think about this.


Okay, so those are three topics we really need to start thinking about.




In the event industry.


Belgian event industry has a really high standard. Definitely. But I think, when we think about those three things, we can even take it to a next level.


Okay Tom, thank you very much for sharing these ideas.


You’re welcome.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.