What are the major trends in the world of corporate events? Ask the experts. We did—here are the insights from the nominees for the 2010 Gala Awards for Best Event for a Corporation:
What corporate events are growing in importance--marketing events? Branding? Employee appreciation? Sales training? Client appreciation? Which do you see fading back?
"Events are that are aimed at marketing/branding to new clients, whether by product launches or trade shows, seem to be the primary focus of corporations." – Deborah Elias, CSEP, CMP, Elias Events, Houston
"In 2008-09, corporate marketing and employee appreciation events were fading, but recently there has been a resurgence. Branding is very important, and brand loyalty is a large focus of clients." --Jocelyn Flanagan, CSEP, E=MC2 Event Management, Calgary, Alberta
"Employee appreciation events have been on the decline for years. That said, events focusing on training and rewarding salespeople are still important to the corporations." – Janet Elkins, EventWorks, Los Angeles
"I don't see as much fading. In fact, we were so faded, particularly in employee appreciation, that all areas you note are making a comeback--including that one!" –- Joann Roth-Oseary, Someone's in the Kitchen, Tarzana, Calif.
How have your responses to RFPs changed in the last 12 months? Do you stress some elements more now? Is it just a question of price nowadays?
"Last year it was all about price and pretty much getting everything they got in 2008 but with 2009 prices. This year seems to be more about the quality but with more realistic budget expectations." -- Elias
"Firstly, the amount of RFPs has increased in the past year, with procurement departments having more control over decision-making. Event elements such as safety standards and environmentally friendly event initiatives influence the outcome of the RFP; however, fiscal responsibility and cost controls are usually at the forefront." -- Flanagan
"There is definitely a focus on ROI--and has been for several years. We often encourage clients [to provide] a retainer so there is a win-win for both the corporation and us as a vendor. We are guaranteed business, and the corporation receives discounted pricing." -- Elkins
"Price remains a primary driver with RFPs although we do see a lot of upgrades, so we are taking the minimalist approach primarily and showing room for upgrades and choices. It seems to be working." --Roth-Oseary
Do you see the market for corporate events looking better in 2011?
"Looking better--thank God. I think people are becoming more optimistic about the shift in focus to the economy--where it should have always been, frankly, for the past two years." --Elias
"Yes, corporations are adjusting to the new mindset of controlled optimism and realize that they need to continue to move forward—'Business as usual.'"—Flanagan
"We definitely see an increase in business in 2011--and even a return for some 'themed' events." --Elkins
"I see it looking better. There is just so long they can lay down and play dead before the market thinks they are dead. I see the noses poking out of the foxholes, getting ready to shoot." --Roth-Oseary
What are the trends to watch?
"In our city, philanthropy is a major component in designing events. Whether it is a corporate employee Christmas party with guests donating gifts to a children's charity or a social event with the host encouraging donations to their chosen charity, the idea of giving is the a common thread through our events."-- Flanagan