It might not be time to break out the champagne and caviar—maybe cava and cupcakes instead—but from the responses shared by major caterers in our sixth annual "25 Great Big Caterers" list, it looks as though business is heating up.

"We are seeing the return of corporate events, which is very exciting!" says management at Chicago's Blue Plate. The team at Behind the Scenes, based in San Diego, agrees. "Budgets have increased," they say, and "Guest numbers at corporate events seem to be trending up as well." The big story starts on page 18.

Along with the caterers, entertainment experts also tell us budgets are getting better.

Marissa Latshaw, vice president of marketing for Gig Masters of Norwalk, Conn., has the numbers to back it up. "On average, people are spending about 5 percent more on event entertainment than they were just two years ago," she says. While corporate entertainment budgets are up 3 percent, she adds, "Weddings are up almost 9 percent." For the latest on top acts for events, see our "On Trend" feature on page 27.

Unfortunately, not everyone is seeing better business. Conventional wisdom is that parents will spend any amount for their beloved children, but experts in children's parties tell us that Mom and Dad aren't willing to budge on budgets right now. But whenever they are faced with budget challenges, event pros play their trump card: creativity. See how they are making children's events fun without big funds starting on page 24.

Even where budgets are starting to bloom, everyone in events has to face the new reality: Clients today won't part with their money unless they know they are getting value.

The years of grinding recession have taught clients they can push hard on price—and they do. As the team from Global Infusion Group puts it, "Budget is one of the largest decision-influencing facts that appear throughout the events and catering world at present."

And speaking of the world, this issue brings you the man who works all over it. Well, make that 48 countries in the world.

Our "Guest Room" feature puts the spotlight on Tony Laurenson, founder of Global Infusion Group. The one-time drummer and chef now oversees an empire that offers everything from event catering to logistics to laundry. Find out how he approaches business opportunities no matter where they pop up by turning to page 16.

It is amazing to see how the talents of event pros take them anywhere in the world. When you share your stories, you take me with you. Thank you.