Restaurent people often say that guests will come back for great food no matter how homely the dining room, but I have never agreed. For me, the setting has always made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the experience.

If you need some new ideas for settings to make the most of event experiences, turn to our cover story. Associate editor Natasha Garber has pulled together all the pertinent information on a wide range of exciting event venues — largely the top picks of event planners nationwide from a survey conducted by Corporate Meetings and Incentives magazine, sister publication to Special Events Magazine.

Event professionals tell us that entertainment is growing in importance at special events. But it isn't enough simply to pull out a checkbook and buy the biggest name. Instead, event entertainment must be integrated into the event, and it must carry a message for the event sponsor. Writer Dee Long takes a look at some of the hottest acts enlivening events today.

In the face of a skittish economy, companies in a wide range of industries are looking long and hard at head counts to see if cost savings can come from paring personnel. I have worked for large corporations and small family firms, and both have relied on this strategy at some point.

If you have made the tough decision to shave your payroll, keep an important point in mind: The immediate relief you feel from cost pressures can't be sustained if remaining staff doesn't get special attention. Instead of feeling relieved and valued because they have escaped a pink slip, remaining staff can get swallowed up in guilt. They may also start speculating — no matter how strenuously you say otherwise — that the rounds of job cuts are only beginning, and it's their turn next.

One strategy for showing employees they are integral to the business is introducing incentive programs. By tying tangible rewards to company performance, you show employees their efforts do indeed matter. This month's Rental Essentials has plenty of tips.