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Company events

2024 Company Event Trends

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Written by

Melanie Griffiths

Content Lead

As our Content Lead with 10 years experience in content creation, chances are Melanie's had something to do with most things you read on the platform.

A long-standing team member, she's been with Togather since the company's early days and can be found eating her way through London's food markets at the weekend.

Published on Wed 8 May 2024

Every year we get in excess of 25,000 corporate event enquiries ranging from Summer and Christmas parties to office lunches, product launches and conferences. Against every enquiry we’re capturing and calculating around 80 data points directly from the people organising corporate events up and down the country, and we’ve been doing it for nearly 7 years. 

So whether you want to know whether sustainability is becoming more important for event organisers in 2024, whether certain cuisines are more favourable this year vs last or whether office lunches are on the rise to boost staff engagement, we can tell you all about it. But don’t just take our word for it, we’ve also referenced some of the industry-leading event publications for some extra information. 

Trend 1: A push for sustainability 

Year on Year, the number of corporate event enquiries through our platform that specifically ask about how we can ensure the selection of suppliers meet certain sustainability practices has increased by 25%. We’ve seen this in other parts of our operations too with public event organisers asking about our sustainable practices during the pitching process.

This comes as no surprise though - the past couple of years has seen the climate crisis climb to the top of the event industry’s agenda. The fourth annual report from the In-house Corporate Event community (ICE), a global community of 1345 actively engaged corporate event planners, states that sustainability takes centre stage for their members and aligns with global environmental event goals. 

In their members' survey that asked “What are the best sustainability ideas you’ve implemented?”, the top resPonses from event planners were;

  • Highlighting sustainable vendors on site

  • Paperless events

  • Sustainable packaging and foodware partnerships

  • No plastic policies

  • Using digital signage

One theme that also stood out was reducing travel and supporting local. Our data also suggests that the number of corporate event enquiries stating a preference for local suppliers has risen by nearly 20%. 

Supporting sustainability isn’t always straightforward though. Amongst 117 people surveyed about the biggest blockers to getting started with sustainable practices, cost, lack of knowledge and lack of technology were all popular answers. 

On Togather we try and make supporting sustainability as easy as possible. Be it onboarding suppliers like Arch, a sustainable focused caterer or Urban Flower Farmer who are leading the way with sustainable floristry, we make it easy for you to find sustainable suppliers.

Trend 2: Tighter budgets will lead to innovation and a more strategic approach

Covid, the war in Ukraine and rises in inflation have been felt both at home and in the professional world. Coupled with the fact that 2022 was one of the worst years in the stock market to date, it's no surprise that event budget strings are tightening. Our data shows the consequence of this in reality, with the average event budget dropping by 17% from 2021 until now.

What does this mean in practice then? Well, organisers want to make sure they're getting the most for their money by shopping around. We also expect to receive higher scrutiny on event organisers when it comes to the ROI of their event. We’ve done a deep dive into our data and looked at the correlation between when companies enquire for major events like summer and Christmas parties and the impact that has on cost. You can read a full review on booking early and the cost impact in our blog but the major headlines are that booking Christmas parties ahead of the September to October rush saw a saving of 30% on average. 

One thing we’re sure about is that this will lead to technical innovation within the industry. Be it event management tools, site management software or marketplaces like ours that help businesses manage suppliers under one roof, businesses and planners alike will be looking to streamline event planning and management processes, processes that have seen comparatively little change when pitted against other industries.

Long tables with people sitting drinking and chatting

Trend 3: Engaging and retaining your workforce is a key priority

We all know Covid brought a mass office exodus, 2022 then saw ‘the great resignation’ so moving into 2023 and 2024 are we starting to see the next shift? The rise of AI has certainly brought a healthy dose of job insecurity and the rise in large organisations downsizing - certainly in the tech industry - has led to stressful positions for employees. There’s a definite resurgence of moving back to the office, albeit hybrid most of the time. 

These trends and factors all lead to a higher value being placed on engaging the workforce to retain talent, encourage collaboration and improve performance. Our data backs a trend in office catering and company socials increasing with requests for these event types increasing by 10% YoY.  

If you’re not convinced, we’ve got some more insight that shows how employee engagement is a key event trend in 2024. At any given time, research shows that 47% of people actively looking for a new role cite a lack of company culture as a major reason for doing so. A study from the SHRM showed that 67% of HR professionals agree that fostering strong social connections is essential to a high performance culture. 

Keeping your team engaged is also changing as the demographic of the UK workforce evolves. Millennials & Gen-Zs currently make up 38% of the workforce, and this is set to rise to 50% by 2030. While there are many well documented differences between these two generations, what is incredibly clear is that they both place a significantly higher value on experiences than previous generations have. 78% of millennials and Gen-Z would rather spend their money on a desirable experience over a physical possession, which naturally follows through into what they desire from their place of work. Michael C Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work says “There’s a lot that millennials can teach companies about work. How they spend their time and who they spend it with matters to them, as it should to all of us. Help them find meaning in their work. Give them a reason, many reasons, to be proud to work for you – and they’ll stay working for you.”

Further, these generations are obsessed with food and drink, and putting on catered events or bringing in coffee or cocktail suppliers will cater to the natural desires of this generation very well. From an internal PR perspective, the fact that 69% of millennials post pictures of food on their social media should be seen as a huge positive!

Whether you’re looking to plan office catering, or annual events like your work summer party or Christmas party we’re on hand to help you plan. 

Trend 4: The drive to be different and unique grows

Arguably a negative byproduct of the social media age we live in or perhaps just a consequence of the desire to stand out from the competition, going bigger, better or bolder is messaging we see our prospective clients both engage with and ask for. 

On every request that comes through our platform, we collect descriptions of events and their requirements. In 2024 the number of corporate event planners including words like “unique” or “different” in their requirements increased by 25%. We also see similar trends on the festival and live events side of the business with organisers looking to find ways to stand out from the crowd in order to boost ticket sales and revenue for F&B, particularly digging into our unique ability to offer caterers and partnerships through our supplier network that you wouldn’t expect to see at a live event. 

There’s other areas where we see data backing this trend in a slightly less obvious way. Looking at our venue data, the number of 2024 corporate event planners requesting blank canvas venues they can put their own unique twice on has more than doubled. Venues like Kachette, Bermondsey Social Club and 26 Leake Street have all seen a rise in bookings on our platform. As have food suppliers that can offer branding and personalisation to what they offer. Branded donuts from Cross Town and cakes from The Proof are standouts of ours.

If you’d like to discuss your event planning requirements with us then please get in touch!

Trend 5: A key focus on experience stands out

What does this really mean? Surely every event is an experience. Well for sure, but this final point is really a culmination of all of the above. In the world of networking, conferences, talks, the same old office lunch or Thursday drinks in the pub, it’s no longer enough to just have a panel and speakers or the same old Deliveroo as a way to entice people into attending. People want to leave with a memorable experience, feel involved in the event they are attending and have experiences that are unique to them or their company values. 

Whether it’s our own data backing up the search for “unique”, the importance of engaging and retaining the workforce or the drive of innovation and technology within the events sector, the emphasis on experience has never been greater. 

It’s a trend that Cvent, an American events company picks up in their analysis. In their event planner sourcing report, they focus on venues, highlighting that the need to find venues that support immersive and interactive experiences is top of their planner’s list, even when budget and other restraints are factors to consider. 

It’s potentially why we’ve seen a rise in blank canvas venue requests, giving event organisers complete freedom, be it wheeling in one of our street food trucks or something as simple as a photobooth

For an experience that stands out we recommend following these guidelines:

1. Pick a venue that can encourage creative freedom

Blank canvas here works well. But think about the flexibility a venue provides to decorate, set up, bring in external suppliers and customise layout. 

2. Give thought to the F&B suppliers you use. 

Are you launching a product? How can you potentially brand or tie in the food that your guests are given? Are you planning a summer party? How can you make sure the food is sourced sustainably and is in season or that you pick a supplier with local connections…your guests really do care about things like this!

3. Give your guests the opportunity to be part of the planning process. 

Poll your employees, give them the choice. The more they feel involved, the more they will feel like they have contributed to the experience. 

4. Think about the activities you provide. 

Referencing the rise of gen-z and millennials from earlier it’s suggested in this report by Mintel that ⅓  of Gen Z’s don’t drink alcohol. An open bar therefore, may not cut it anymore. Think about the entertainment and activities your next event brings with it. At our Togather team events we’ve had magicians, DJs and saxophonists on chairs…don’t ask about the last one so if you need help with your next event don’t hesitate to reach out.