With lockdowns long behind us and the pressures of the pandemic easing up at last, now is the time for our sense of community and creativity to take the fore. Conferences and events are back in the spotlight and Kurland’s stages are set to serve up a delightful array of face-to-face meetings, greetings and gatherings of all shapes and sizes.

We caught up with conference and event planner, Margot Coetzee, to talk us through what’s hot and happening in the industry at the moment…

“This year has been an absolute boom,” Margot enthuses. “It started with a big focus on weddings, with many happy couples rushing to get their long-awaited big days into the calendar. It was a crazy season, and it felt like all of us in the industry were pushed to our absolute limits coping with the sudden influx of events.”

Since mid-year, the industry has also happily noted numerous corporates leaping back into the swing of things.

“We’ve welcomed a constant flow of new corporate enquiries for conferences and corporate events, as well as product launches, gala dinners for travel groups, parties to spoil clients, and even some big promotional events,” she says.

“We’ve loved seeing local inquiries flowing in, but interestingly enough we’ve also noted a lot of conference enquiries coming in from European and Asian markets looking for conferences here.”

In the push to put COVID-19 behind us, it’s no surprise that local and international guests are loving the chance to come together again under sunny South African skies and start afresh with renewed inspiration and positivity.

“There is a palpable energy and excitement for people to be able to come together again in big groups,” Margot explains. “We’re getting enquiries for conferences of up to 250 guests and promotional events catering for up to 1 000 attendees. Budgets seem to be a little less restrictive, and clients seem to be craving creativity and fresh, new ideas.”

“The resilience of our industry has amazed me, and I’m not sure if any other industry quite used the term ‘pivot’ as much as the events industry did. There is a sense amongst us of good things to come and I hope to see the events industry continuing to boom. Conferences and events have done enough time in the dog box,” she jokes, “and it’s high time for us to come out and play again.”

Inspiration and fresh ideas are certainly not in small supply…“We’re seeing pop up conferences in the middle of nowhere, as opposed to your run-of-the-mill hotels, as well as more modern design elements, like bringing in lighting as part of the aesthetic and using fun, out-of-the-box themes.”

“I’m also loving seeing a lot more interactive elements being incorporated for guests, with a strong focus on entertainment, through musical journeys, for example, and through crafting special ‘Instagram-able’ moments.”

And then, of course, there’s the food! “Clients want the food to be as much of a feature as all the other elements,” Margot explains. “And this doesn’t just mean food that just tastes good. It needs to be creative and bold in design, flavour, and presentation. Add an interactive element to the food and it’s a sure win.”

If inspiring surroundings, state-of-the-art facilities, and sublime food experiences are the trends taking hold of the conference and events industry at the moment, then Kurland is well-placed to steal the show. Three of Margot’s favourite locations on the Estate for events and conferences include the picture-perfect Pavilion, the beautiful and atmospheric Katarina’s – The Barn (perfect for boutique meetings), and The Homestead, which offers numerous perfect locations for ceremonies, feasts, and celebrations.

For more information on what Kurland Estate has to offer by way of venues, events, experiences, and luxury accommodation, visit www.kurland.co.za/events-at-kurland/.