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University of London Venues

Five hospitality trends set to take 2024 by storm

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Read on for fresh insights on how to elevate your event planning strategy as we prepare to ring in a new year.

As we dive headfirst into 2024, a swirl of new trends is set to reshape the way we celebrate and gather. Here our expert hospitality staff help us decode some of the biggest five changes shaking up the events industry now, from hybrid gatherings in our post-pandemic world, to sustainability, which we predict will continue to take the front seat this year.

Q&A conference in Beveridge Hall

1. Hybrid events

It’s hard to overstate the buzz around hybrid events these days, a surging trend that shows no signs of slowing down. Widely seen as a cost-effective, flexible alternative to fully in-person events, these can be more inclusive, reaching attendees from around the world. For businesses, they are also a great opportunity to incorporate virtual elements into your activities, from Q&A sessions to live polls during sessions, and collect valuable insights on how your content is performing. Here at the University, we have a full range of audio-visual facilities on offer to clients and a highly skilled team with experience booking and planning hybrid events.

2. British fusion food

Meet our Executive Chef Piotr Krawczyk-Plonka, a culinary virtuoso who loves to reinvent familiar recipes using new and scientific techniques to create imaginative and bold presentations and textures. His culinary prowess was honed over a two-decade career working in London's hospitality industry with a star-studded roster of clients.

"I like to make old classics with influences from molecular gastronomy," says Piotr, revealing his culinary secrets showcased at Foundation Day 2023, a flagship event on our autumn calendar. Among the highlights was a modern interpretation of the British classic – chicken liver pâté – adorned with an apricot and plum gel and an array of toppings and croutons for a symphony of textures.

Fine dinning: salmon dish with cherry tomatoes and cucumber
Fine dinning is overseen by our executive chef Piotr Krawczyk-Plonka

3. Sustainability takes centre stage

Businesses face growing pressure to incorporate sustainable practices into every aspect of their operations from supply chain to product lifecycle, says Anne Voelkert, our Senior Business Development and Sales Manager.

This comprehensive approach not only demonstrates dedication but also inspires others to align their actions with the larger purpose, she says.

Easy swaps to make a dent in your carbon footprint might include discouraging car use by hosting your event near good public transport links such as in our home ground of Bloomsbury or using eco-friendly decoration alternatives to imported cut flowers.

We constantly review our practices to lead the way on sustainable hospitality and reach our aspirational target of net zero by 2036. Our food menus are designed around seasonal ingredients sourced locally wherever possible, with any threatened fish species kept off menus. We also have a zero to landfill policy, a recycling programme and use solar panels to create some of our own energy to heat and light our Grade II* listed Senate House.

You may also be surprised to learn that we even have several beehives on a south-facing rooftop just off Russell Square, pollinating much of central London. Our range of outdoor spaces - which are available for event hire - are managed by a grounds team deployed using a fully electric fleet of vehicles.

4. Where street food meets fine dining

The enduring appeal of street food will continue to generate social media buzz in the coming year, as chefs blur the line between street fare and upscale dining destinations, celebrating the bold flavours and craft of time-honoured culinary traditions.

Piotr loves to celebrate cuisines from around the world and execute recipes faithfully but with a presentational twist. “I’ll use the same spices, cook in the same way, but the finish and presentation might be different,” he says, adding he recently served guests a main course of jerk chicken with peas and rice, a Caribbean classic made with juicy marinaded meat and a flavourful blend of spices. “I presented it differently on the plate, with the chicken deboned, but using the same marinade and spices.”

5. Battle food waste

Cutting down on waste could be a great way to resonate with your clientele amid growing awareness of food scarcity and environmental challenges, while also streamlining operational efficiency and improving your bottom line.

Piotr is passionate about combatting waste in the kitchen and often uses food scraps to boost his flavours. “For example, if one day I’m making mashed potatoes, the next day I’ll use the peels to make crisps with sour cream,” he says, adding that he often uses broccoli stems as well as the stalks and leaves of coriander and other herbs in salads and dressings.

Our highly skilled hospitality team also encourages balanced ordering from the outset and can make tailored recommendations depending on your guest list and event particulars.

We’d love to help bring your event to life

Get in touch with our team today to discuss your needs.