All you need to know about the event sector

All you need to know about the event sector

Smaller events, trending? According to Tom De Weyer of Witti Group, yes.

Although the “real” summer is now turning into an “Indian Summer” with almost tropical temperatures, the event sector is getting ready for events in the autumn and even as early as the holidays. Tom De Weyer, business manager of the Witti Group, agrees because Olivier Wauters, Executive Director of Eventonline had a conversation with him about it.

“We are starting autumn, but for us it is already high time to look ahead anticipatively to the festive period at the end of the old and the beginning of the new year.”

Changing trends spotted? “What we notice is that people are mainly looking for events for smaller groups – probably influenced by COVID – and more unique experiences,” says Tom De Weyer. “Where you used to get caught up in bigger events, the emphasis is now more on more personal, smaller-scale activities. Companies that do well and really care about their employees realise that experiences are not an end in themselves, but rather a means where making a positive impact should be the goal. That way, staff return to the workplace on Mondays full of enthusiasm, and enjoy returning to ‘their’ company, but more importantly … want to stay there. After all, ‘the war on talent’ is still raging and every company still wants to attract the right staff. ‘Feeling good’, is the trend we recognise in smaller events. Especially during a period of socialising, such as end-of-year parties, which we had to miss for a few years anyway due to the pandemic.”

So companies are starting to organise smaller events, but then perhaps more frequently? “We do indeed notice this,” confirms the business manager. “Clients come back for different events, but for a different segment of their staff, for instance. Also because it is much more fun to organise something for forty to one hundred people than to give a speech for eight hundred people, but not really see anyone in person for an entire evening. I therefore think that personal contact is very important and, of course, storytelling. Really a very important factor in addition to location and catering. Because bringing the story around something, that’s how a company can make the difference.”

So has the market changed? “The desire for unique interpretation comes mainly from the companies themselves. You can’t keep looking for even better artists, crazier acts, etc. Storytelling is always personal. If you can bring a story that affects a group of people who feel addressed by the story, however they interpret it, then you score. Because that is precisely the beauty of storytelling, everyone fills in that story themselves. As a good example, I always take ‘Marlèneke’ from Samson & Gert. No one has ever seen her, but to some she is blonde, to others a brunette, etc. and everyone was in love with her. That mythical feeling of watching Samson & Gert on the sofa on Sunday afternoon that everyone fills in for themselves with his/her experience … if you can capture that in a corporate event, you’re in the right place.”

With ‘Villa Zwartgoud’, the Witti Group also has a smaller event venue tailored to small groups. “Villa Zwartgoud was one of the first smaller event venues. Today, we also see more smaller event venues emerging. After all, demand is rising. Villa Zwartgoud has its own story. We are currently organising private dinners there. Exclusively with the story of the building, via the last living witness, the former cleaning lady of the then director of the Kempen Coal Mines. This is a lady of 95. We bring nine menu courses in an authentic setting, nine courses presented in a special way, but also nine special stories that accompany them. Each dish is accompanied by a narrator so that people can join in the story. Originally developed for individuals, for companies we have adapted this concept to six stories and three or four company stories can be added. It is fun to tell a story that is authentic that you can relate to and experience. We guide people into the story with us. If the company’s story is woven into it, then as a company you make an impact on your employees or customers. Then you really let the participants experience something, but that is best done in smaller groups,” says Tom De Weyer.

The Witti Group’s other venues also qualify for events for smaller groups. For instance, there is ‘Volt’. “Volt” is a man’s or women’s cave, also suitable for smaller groups of 50 to 100 people. Put that full of pub games in the impact is huge: table football, boxing balls, pinball machines, ‘boys & toys’ so to speak. Spontaneous, sociable, disarming. However, those ‘tools’ make it easy for people to connect with each other. We can organise table mapping in the ‘Ondergrond’ (Underground) room, which you also create for a limited group, around 70 to 80 people. There you make a gigantic impact because you really do go beyond imagination. Doing something that takes people outside their comfort zone, but not making that group too big so that it does remain thought-provoking.”

“If you’re at an event of 800 people you can shout ‘wow’, but you can’t share with the whole group, though. Often such a large group is intimidating. On the other hand, it is also uplifting. However, during a smaller event, people do interact more quickly. When groups are small and cosy, you get a dynamic faster. Bringing people who work from home a lot or colleagues from different departments together and connecting them is where the power of smaller events lies. Rather four smaller ones, with the objective of making contact, score better than one big one, which, to be clear, there is also nothing against. The alternative ‘smaller’ is certainly there to consider. At ‘Villa Zwartgoud’, for instance, we invited four clients on four evenings and gave a classic Christmas party with clean crockery. Between main course and dessert, participants were invited to flower arranging. It was a top evening for everyone. What a dynamic, for young and old! Everyone put on a Santa hat and made something creative. Four times twenty participants, so it went perfectly. So it was completely ‘out of the box’. Sometimes you shouldn’t take it too far. Back to authentic scores again. I think this is a recurring trend,” says the manager.

Four-legged friends can join in too. “You also notice that more office dogs come along to business events. At ‘Villa Zwartgoud’ we have a special arrangement for this: the ‘flufetarian menu’. Because you’re sitting privately, it doesn’t bother you. It creates good vibes anyway, so companies start to differentiate how they treat their staff. They are striving more to make a positive impact on their staff.”

One of the new halls is called ‘Ampère’. “The hall is actually conceived on the principle of a holiday home,” Tom De Weyer explains. “There are three rooms in a plenary room for up to eighty people, there is an 18m blackboard inspiration wall, so you can write the wall completely full. In the hall there is a separate catering caluik ‘Switch-off’. Following the principle so of everything is there, grab what you need. There are also two break-out rooms with cosy armchairs. Really the idea of going to a holiday cottage and having fun there. Perfect also for small teams to get to know each other in a fun and creative way. There are also 20 yoga mats in the cupboard at the request of companies themselves. This is proof that awareness is being handled in a different way. It gives an extra vibe and the objective remains the same: to wake up the next day and look back at that fun moment.”

Small events only then? “Big events remain a fixture in our Location Watt17, but you can’t deny that small events set trends, though: the storytelling, the experience. And with our smaller venues, we have an excellent basis for that.” says another Tom De Weyer.

Meeting Location in Zolder – Watt17



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