My company publishes more than 110 magazines, and so our Research Department is always busy conducting surveys for all of us. And we have two great ones for you in this issue.

Our annual planner forecast takes the pulse of in-house and independent event planners, gauging their outlook for the new year. They see better days ahead; see the full story starting on page 39.

We also have survey results for the event rental sector. After falling off a cliff last year, expectations for better business emerge here, too. Read more starting on page 43.

If you need some wonderful ideas for your events this year, treat yourself to the profiles of our Gala Award nominees; they start on page 15.

Our research director tells me that she often has to send out surveys for other publications repeatedly to get enough replies to create statistically valid results, but not for Special Events. Our readers are so committed to this business that they respond promptly and are never shy about sharing comments.

Sometimes the comments go beyond the business world to talk about the business of life.

One independent event planner acknowledged a painful reality that we will all likely experience:

“As I get older, and being the face of my company, I sometimes find it challenging for younger clients to be willing to go with experience over youth. I am always successful in presenting the current trends when given the chance — but I'm not always given the chance.”

And always, I find in your responses a determination to forge ahead, whatever the challenges may be. People sometimes tell me they are surprised by the unfailingly optimistic outlook my readers show, no matter how dismal the headlines are. I think this optimism is part of what it takes to be successful in special events. After all, who but a special event professional could see a beautiful ballroom in what is now only an empty warehouse or barren backyard?

I see nothing but determination in this response, in answer to our question asking what the secret to success will be in 2010:

“‘Listening’ will be the secret to success. By conducting a proper discovery of your clients, their event, the attendees and their goals, an event professional should be able to creatively write a proposal that defies rejection.”

That is my wish for all of you in the new year — that you find the mix of clarity and creativity that defies defeat and ensures sweet success.