Confidence that the new year will bring better business for special event professionals is on the rise. According to the annual forecast from Penton Media, parent company of Special Events, 41 percent of in-house event professionals say they will produce more events next year than this year, a figure that rises to 51 percent for independent pros.
A whopping 61 percent of party rental operators predict they will handle more events in 2011 than they did in 2010.
But event professionals aren't just waiting for better business to knock on the door. Instead, they are addressing the emerging challenges of the business with new strategies.
Kelley Gillespie, event planner/producer with GEM Associates of Vienna, Va., and member of the Special Events Advisory Board, is counting on cooperation with her vendors to come up with new concepts.
"As a planner, I have to rely on my vendors to help me come up with new ideas, new products--something my clients have never seen before," she explains. "There's much more brainpower if we can each bring something we've seen or heard or read and collectively come up with a solution."
And from that cooperation, she wants innovation.
"I'm looking for ideas from them to turn the standard reception on end and devise something new," Gillespie explains. "No more lobster mac and cheese, please! A three-hour party format with reception, dinner and speeches now needs to morph into an event with a gimmick--can we incorporate some sort of message board so attendees can post electronic notes? Write graffiti?--or with a purpose--use celebrity chefs who will donate proceeds to charity, or use all recycled decor to help reduce our carbon footprint?"
An in-house corporate event planner, who asks to remain anonymous, echoes the partnership theme.
"We are working with our strategic partner suppliers to bring new, innovative event ideas and services to our requestors," she says, "being the eyes and ears in the field to keep our messaging and event deliveries fresh."
Leslee Bell, president of Toronto-based Decor & More, wants to function not only as the eyes and ears but the "right hand that our clients need when they are understaffed," she says. "We have tried to make ourselves indispensable as a supplier/partner."
To that end, Bell's company has developed signature lines in tabletop expressions and innovative new rental props, she says. "Instead of waiting for a call for the unique and different, we are using the 'build it or design it and they will want it' [approach], with one-of-a-kind unique temporary environments."
See the full story in the January-February issue of Special Events.
Image by iStockphoto.com / © Alex Slobodkin