Special Events magazine regularly polls readers on its website; here are their opinions on business, design and menu trends and other topics.
What's cooler, buffets or action stations?
What? Definitely action stations! 84%
Definitely buffets! 16%
Attention, party rental: Do you still feel pressure to discount rates?
No, things are better than they were in 2010, when two-thirds of party rental companies were discounting; I rarely if ever discount now: 40%
No, I discount my rates selectively, depending on season, item, etc.: 40%
Yes, I still have to discount much more than I would like to: 20%
The experts said the color emerald would be popular--do you agree?
Yes, I'm using more emerald in my color palettes: 23%
No, I haven't seen any increased demand for emerald: 76%
Wedding professionals: Is the receiving line gone forever?
Yes, virtually no weddings have one nowadays: 45%
No, I see one now and then: 55%
Trend-watchers say that 1920s/Great Gatsby looks will be big this year--do your clients agree?
Yes, I'm getting more requests for the Roaring '20s look: 72%
No, I have not seen any increased interest in this look: 28%
They say the economy is getting better; are you seeing better business?
Yes, my event business is better this year than last: 50%
No, I haven't seen any improvement: 50%
With the increased government approval of same-sex weddings, have you seen an increase in business in this segment?
Yes, I have seen new business in the same-sex wedding market: 36%
No, I have not seen new business in the same-sex wedding market: 24%
I have never done a same-sex wedding: 40%
Wedding planners: Do you believe that clients discriminate against older planners?
Yes, younger brides tend to want younger planners: 56%
No, I don't see age discrimination on the part of clients: 44%
Are you falling for Instagram?
Yes, Instagram is great!: 43%
No, I am busy enough with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.: 46%
No, I am sitting out the social media dance entirely: 12%
Is the bacon craze still cooking?
Yes, bacon is still a big menu trend: 64%
No, it's starting to cool off: 36%
How is your 2012 holiday party business shaping up?
Holiday party business will be better in 2012 than it was in 2011: 44%
It will be about the same this year as last: 35%
It will be worse in 2012 than it was in 2011: 21%
What are the hottest trends in wedding floral?
Vintage, homey looks: 39%
Added elements, such as jewels or feathers: 30%
Classic, Old World looks: 19%
Modern, structured arrangements: 12%
What did you think of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London?
There were hits and misses: 38%
I didn't care for it: 22%
What did you think of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London?
There were hits and misses: 45%
I didn't care for it: 25%
The one event I wish I could stage is:
The opening/closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games: 32%
The Super Bowl halftime show: 24%
A televised awards show (Oscars, Grammys, Tonys): 39%
A big parade (Macy's Thanksgiving, Rose Parade): 6%
Oh, no! It's summer 2012, and is the economy stalling again?
No, things are getting better: 36%
Things are about the same: 32%
Yes, it's beginning to slow down again: 31%
Are macarons still a top dessert item at special events?
Yes, guests still love them: 36%
No, they are falling out of favor: 22%
Isn't it spelled "macaroon"?: 41%
How is the 'rustic chic' trend holding up?
It just keeps getting stronger: 34%
It is staying consistent: 43%
It is starting to fade away: 22%
How are you rewarding great employees in 2012?
We are giving raises this year: 10%
We are giving bonuses: 25%
We are giving nonmonetary perks (such as more time off): 17%
We are giving them better titles: 7%
We aren't giving anything to anyone this year!: 39%
Do you create signature cocktails for your events?
Almost always: 37%
How did your 2011 New Year's Eve business turn out?
New Year's Eve was better this year than in 2010: 27%
It was about the same: 30%
New Year's Eve 2011 was worse than last year: 41%
Lead times for special events: Are they starting to get longer again?
Yes, we are seeing longer lead times for events: 42%
I don't see much change: 21%
No, lead times are still getting shorter: 36%
Venues: Are you getting good bookings for 2011 holiday party business?
Yes, bookings for 2011 are better than they were for 2010: 19%
2011 bookings are about the same: 33%
2011 bookings are worse than they were for 2010: 47%
Hotels: How is your special event business for 2012 shaping up?
2012 business will be better than 2011: 81%
2012 business will be on par with 2011: 17%
2012 business will be worse than 2011: 2%
What is your favorite venue for a special event?
A hotel ballroom: 17%
A tent: 13%
A restaurant: 5%
A private home: 14%
A untraditional venue (warehouse, office) that I transform: 48%
Do you create hybrid--a mix of live, virtual and social-media--events?
No but I am considering it: 45%
No and I am not planning to: 29%
What is the hippest color palette for 2011?
Neon colors: 23%
Monochromatic/variations on one color: 21%
Nature's colors: 12%
Neutrals AND Primary Colors (tie):6%
Whatever the client says it is: 18%
Boo! Are you working on any Halloween 2011 parties?
Yes, for social/private clients only: 25%
Yes, for corporate/business clients only: 6%
Yes, for both social and business clients: 17%
Boo hoo--I'm not doing any Halloween parties: 50%
Which social media channel works best for your business life?
Facebook is best: 50%
Twitter is best: 25%
LinkedIn is best: 17%
I prefer other social media: 7%
Caterers: How is your 2011 holiday party business shaping up?
Holiday party business will be better in 2011 than it was in 2010: 39%
Holiday party business in 2011 will the same as it was in 2010: 28%
Holiday party busines in 2011 will be worse than it was in 2010: 31%
In mid-2010, nearly two in three party rental operators were discounting rates. It's one year later--can we stop now?
I had to discount some of my rates and must continue to do so: 29%
I had to discount some of my rates but have brought them back up this year: 22%
I had to discount some of my rates but plan to bring them back up in 2012: 22%
I didn't discount my rates: 25%
What is your favorite centerpiece treatment?
One main centerpiece for each table, all matching: 30%
A variety of centerpieces that alternate among tables: 62%
I prefer scattering small elements on top of the table: 7%
Are you blog-happy or blog-bleary?
I blog now and plan to keep doing it: 34%
I blogged for awhile but now don't keep it up: 9%
I don't blog now but plan to start sometime: 31%
Don't blog now, won't blog ever: 25%
Entertainment: Do you use headliners or not?
Definitely headliners for my events: 28%
I use strong talent without the big name: 72%
Is "going green" starting to fade?
No, I am using green, eco-friendly elements more and more in events: 22%
I am using about the same level of green event elements as I have over the last couple years: 42%
I am less and less concerned about using green event elements: 34%
Oh no! Are we headed back into a recession?
No, I think the economy is improving: 43%
I don't see much change: 34%
Yes, I think the economy is slipping back into recession: 22%
Are you able to use luxury resorts as venues again?
Yes, it's becoming more acceptable to use luxury resorts as event venues: 50%
No, I still have to avoid looking "lavish": 50%
Have your bought an iPad/tablet computer?
Yes, and I love it: 29%
Yes but I'm not using it much: 8%
Not yet but I'm considering it: 44%
I'm not interested in one: 17%
Caterers: Are picnics still popular with your clients?
Yes, picnics are still appealing: 58%
The picnic trend is starting to cool off: 19%
We don't do picnics: 22%
Will you view the royal wedding?
Yes, as an attendee: 8%
Yes, on television: 65%
Yes, via social media: 6%
What royal wedding?: 19%
To keep a low profile, is your company/client limiting your ability to share photos of the events you create?
Is your company ready for a natural disaster?
Yes, we have a disaster plan: 54%
Not yet but we are working on it: 11%
No, we don't think much can be done about disasters: 34%
Have you ever used "Oscar/Hollywood awards" style decor at an event?
Yes, hasn't everyone?: 69%
No, never: 30%
True or false: Pie is the new cupcake
I don't understand the question: 5%
How would you rate the 2011 Super Bowl halftime show?
It was great!: 33%
It was average: 42%
I could have done it much better: 23%
Does Facebook bring you business?
Yes, my presence on Facebook has brought me paying clients: 20%
I'm not sure but I know it brings me positive buzz: 41%
I haven't a clue:14%
I don't do social media: 23%
How are you rewarding great employees in 2011?
We are giving raises this year: 66%
We are giving bonuses: 10%
We are giving nonmonetary perks (such as more time off): 7%
We are giving better titles: 1%
We aren't giving anything to anyone this year!: 14%
Will luxury make a comeback at events in 2011??
Yes, clients will be willing to splurge a bit: 46%
No, clients will continue to be frugal: 53%
What is the best movie about wedding planners?
"The Wedding Planner" (Jennifer Lopez, 2001): 60%
"Father of the Bride" (Steve Martin, 1991): 33%
"Father of the Bride" (Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor, 1950): 6%
Are traditional elements--receiving lines and the like--coming back at weddings?
Yes, traditional elements are making a comeback: 25%
I don't see much change: 29%
No, tradition means less and less today: 45%
Are dual entrees still hot?
Yes, dual entrees are hot and getting hotter: 19%
They are holding steady: 66%
They are cooling off as more clients ask for single entrees again: 14%
Caterers: How is your 2010 holiday party business looking?
I am booking more parties in 2010 than I did in 2009: 44%
I am booking about the same amount: 27%
I am booking fewer holiday parties this year than last: 27%
Do you foresee better event business in 2011?
Yes, I think my event business will be better in 2011 than it was in 2010: 64%
I think it will be about the same: 24%
No, I think mu event business will be worse in 2011 than it was in 2010: 10%
Will bars be big at your holiday parties this year?
Yes, I expect to serve more alcohol in 2010 than in 2009: 28%
I expect to serve about the same amount: 42%
No, I expect to serve less alcohol in 2010 than last year: 28%
What makes a great designer?
They are born with talent: 7%
They learn how to design well: 6%
It's a mix of both: 85%
Caterers: How is your 2010 holiday business looking?
We expect to book more holiday parties in 2010 than we did in 2009: 35%
We expect to book roughly the same number: 21%
We expect to book fewer holiday parties in 2010 than we did in 2009: 42%
Forecast for fundraisers: Is it getting easier to raise money?
Yes, my fundraisers are raising more money in 2010 than they did in 2009: 26%
My fundraisers are performing the same in 2010 as they did in 2009: 31%
No, my fundraisers are doing worse in 2010 than they did in 2009: 42%
What is the hippest color palette for events now?
Vivid primary/jewel tones: 24%
Nature palettes: 12%
Monotones/variations on one color: 7%
Whatever the client says it is: 27%
Calling party rental: Do you have to discount?
Yes, I have to discount to hold onto business: 65%
No, I can hold the line on my pricing without losing business: 34%
Do you use mobile apps?
Yes, but for my personal use only: 22%
Yes, but for my professional life only: 1%
Yes, both personally and professionally: 53%
What's a mobile app?: 22%
Is the economy getting better, or are we headed for a "double-dip" recession?
I think the economy is improving: 23%
I think we're heading for a "double-dip"--another recessionary period: 41%
I don't see any change: 34%
Do you have Facebook fatigue?
Yes, I use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) less this year than last: 22%
I use social media just as much this year as last year: 25%
No, I love social media and am using it more this year: 35%
I never use social media: 16%
What types of invitations do you use for your special events?
I use nothing but paper/physical invitations: 23%
I use a mix of physical and digital invitations: 62%
I use nothing but digital invitations: 13%
How is your special event workload shaping up in the second half of 2010?
I will be busier in the second half of 2010 than I was in the second half of 2009: 43%
I will have the same event workload: 28%
I will have fewer events in the second half of 2010 than I did in the second half of 2009: 28%
Independents: In this economic climate, do you have to discount or can you hold the line?
Yes, I have to discount to keep my client base: 59%
No, I have been able to hold the line on my pricing: 40%
Looking back, are you glad you went into special events as a career?
Yes, I can't imagine doing anything else: 67%
Well, I have good days and bad days: 18%
No, I wish I'd listened when Dad told me to go to law school/medical school/whatever school: 14%
Corporate planners: Are you putting more CSR--corporate social responsibility--elements into your events this year than in 2009?
Same amount: 20%
Are you using more interns this year than in 2009?
We don't use interns: 22%
Social planners: How is your teen event business (mitzvahs, Sweet 16s, quinces, etc.) doing in the first half of 2010?
It is better this year than last: 19%
It is the same this year as last: 23%
It is worse this year than last: 57%
Do you like reading news, email, etc., on your mobile device?
Yes, I do: 48%
No, I don't: 44%
What's a mobile device?: 8%
Can you tell if your blog is good for your business?
Yes, it has brought me inquiries and/or clients: 1%
No new business yet but it has raised my profile: 30%
I can't tell if it's doing anything for me: 20%
I don't have a blog now but am thinking about it: 40%
I don't have a blog and don't plan on starting one: 10%
Are there too many "newbies" coming into special events?
Yes, the recession has prompted too many people to try to be event professionals: 54%
No, the industry always has a place for newcomers: 43%
I don't see any change: 1%
How do you rate the Closing Ceremonies at the Olympics in Vancover?
They were great!: 26%
They were good: 21%
They were average: 28%
They were below average: 23%
How do you rate the Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics in Vancover?
They were great!: 42%
They were good: 19%
They were average: 25%
They were below average: 12%
Are you using social media (Twitter, Facebook) a smuch this year as you did in 2009?
Yes, I'm using social media as much this year as I did last: 31%
No, I'm using social media less this year: 10%
I'm using social media more than year than last: 55%
I never use social media: 3%
How is your event load for the first half of 2010 shaping up?
We will likely have the same volume of events in the first half of 2010 as we did in the first half of 2009: 30%
We will handle more events in the first half of 2010 than we did in the first half of 2009: 36%
We will handle fewer events in the first half of 2010 than we did in the first half of 2009: 32%
Are you starting to hire more employees for your events?
Yes, we are hiring employees for our events: 17%
Yes, but we are hiring freelancers for our events: 41%
No, we are not hiring extra staff for our events: 41%
How did your 2009 New Year's Eve business shape up?
We booked more New Year's Eve parties in 2009 than we did in 2008: 28%
We booked the same amount of parties: 13%
We booked fewer New Year's Eve parties in 2009: 57%
How is your 2009 holiday party business shaping up?
We expect to book more holiday parties in 2009 than we did in 2008: 16%
We expect to book the same number of holiday parties: 16%
We expect to book fewer holiday parties: 66%
Is the economy hurting your bar/bat mitzvah budgets this year?
Yes, budgets are down 20% or more: 38%
Yes, budgets are down between 10% and 20%: 11%
Yes, budgets are down 10% or less: 16%
No change in budgets: 5%
Budgets are bigger this year: 0%
Don't know/no opinion: 27%
Would you advise your son or daughter to go into special events as a career?
Yes, absolutely: 35%
Yes, but caution that the business has its ups and downs: 38%
No, I would discourage it somewhat: 8%
No, I would discourage it strongly: 8%
Don't know/no opinion: 8%
Are you deliberatedly making your event decor look "sensible," not "lavish"?
Yes, because my client demands it: 61%
Yes, because I think it's the right thing for today's economy: 25%
No, no change in how I design my event decor: 11%
Don't know/no opinion: 1%
IS CORPORATE SPECIAL EVENT BUSINESS BEGINING TO RECOVER?
Yes, I see corporate events begining to recover in 2009: 17%
Yes, I see corporate events begining to recover in 2010: 32%
No, I see no change in corporate events: 20%
No, I see corporate events falling off even further: 15%
Don't know/no opinion: 13%
How is your holiday party business shaping up?
We expect to book more holiday parties in 2009 than we did in 2008: 15%
We expect to book the same number of holiday parties : 18%
We expect to book fewer holiday parties : 65%
Are tight budgets hurting your “green” event efforts?
Yes, I can’t work as “green” as I’d like because of tight budgets: 41%
No, I still make the effort to go green with my events: 20%
Don’t know / No opinion: 37%
Caterers: Are you putting picnics on your client menu?
No, with no plans to offer picnics to clients: 17%
We don’t offer picnics now but are considering it: 52%
We already offer picnics: 29%
What is your favorite social networking site?
I use all of them: 6%
I use none of them: 7%
What is your favorite suggestion to help today’s budget-conscious brides?
Reduce the guest list: 24%
Pick an alternative time of day/day of week: 13%
Switch to less expensive floral: 9%
Switch to less expensive food: 3%
Turn to less expensive venue: 6%
All of the above: 40%
None of the above—my brides are not concerned about cost: 1%
Is Theme Decor Coming Back?
Yes, we are creating more true themed events: 50%
No, we are creating an ambience rather than a true theme: 47%
No change: 2%
See examples of theme decor that carries a corporate message.
With today’s tight budgets, how are you handling event décor?
I am using the same level of décor as I have in years past: 32%
I am using less décor than I have in years past: 62%
I am using more décor than I have in years past : 5%
Is the recovery coming closer?
I expect the economy to start recovering this year: 17%
I expect the recovery to start in 2010: 35%
I expect the recover to start in 2011 or later: 42%
I don’t know: 5%
Is swine flu affecting your events?
Yes, the news about swine flu is causing me to postpone or change a planned event: 8%
Yes, the news about swine flu is causing me to cancel a planned event: 4%
No, the news about swine flu is having no impact on any of my planned events: 88%
Are you into social networking (such as Facebook, LinkedIn) online?
No, with no plans to do so: 10%
Not yet, but I'm considering it: 8%
Yes for both my professional and personal life: 46%
Yes, but for my professional life only: 6%
Yes, but for my personal life only: 27% See how these results compare to last year's social media poll!
In light of the move toward “green,” eco-conscious events, are your clients reducing their use of fresh floral?
Yes, they are sharply cutting back or eliminating fresh floral: 5%
Yes, they are cutting back somewhat on fresh floral: 30%
No, no change in their desire for fresh floral: 50%
No, they want even more fresh floral: 10%
No opinion/I don’t know: 5%
What special event themes are your clients asking for today: Something new or tried-and-true?
- They want something new: 65%
- My clients are less interested in green events this year than last year: 22%
- They want tried-and-true: 25%
- No opinion: 9%
Total Votes: 32
IS GREEN STILL GROWING?
- My clients are asking for the same level of green elements in their special events this year: 24%
- My clients are less interested in green events this year than last year: 22%
- My clients are asking for even more green elements this year than last year: 40%
- No opinion: 12%
Total Votes: 66
In the fallout from the AIG public relations disaster, other big companies are canceling their incentive events. Do you think this is a true business decision or simply a public relations move?
- It’s a business decision: 27%
- It’s a public relations move: 66%
- I don’t know: 5%
Total Votes: 36
A few caterers have told Special Events that their corporate client canceled its holiday party (often under pressure to look “responsible”), but the caterer still got paid. Was this true for you?
- Yes, even though my client canceled the party, I was paid in full: 8%
- Somewhat, I got paid for at least a portion of the canceled party.: 46%
- No, I lost out on the entire payment.: 45%
Total Votes: 134
With the sour economy, some consumers are turning away from luxury brands to value-oriented products. Do you see this with your special events?
- No, we see the same number of clients looking for high-end, luxury event elements such as crystal, fine china, etc.: 15%
- Yes, we see clients turning away from high-end, luxury event elements to less "over the top" choices.: 84%
Total Votes: 32
How is the outlook for your social/private holiday party business this year? (Pick one only)
- My social/private holiday party business will be down more than 40 percent this year versus last year: 37%
- My social/private holiday party business will be down 40 percent or less this year versus last year: 2%
- My social/private holiday party business will be down 30 percent or less this year versus last year: 8%
- My social/private holiday party business will be down 20 percent or less this year versus last year: 11%
- My social/private holiday party business will be down 10 percent or less this year versus last year: 20%
- My social/private holiday party business will be about the same this year as last year: 8%
- My social/private holiday party business will be up 10 percent or less this year versus last year: 0%
- My social/private holiday party business will be up 20 percent or less this year versus last year: 2%
- My social/private holiday party business will be up 30 percent or less this year versus last year: 4%
- My social/private holiday party business will be up more than 30 percent this year versus last year: 4%
Total Votes: 45
With the sour outlook for corporate holiday party business, are you promoting lower-cost events to clients or potential clients to shore up business? (pick one only)
- Yes, I am promoting lower-cost holiday parties to both existing clients and potential clients: 44%
- Yes, I am promoting lower-cost holiday parties to potential clients only: 14%
- Yes, I am promoting lower-cost holiday parties to my existing clients only: 5%
- No, but I am doing the standard promotion I do every year:17%
- No, I am not doing any promotions this year: 17%
Total Votes: 69
With the sour business outlook, are you considering discounting your prices this year?
- No, I don't believe in discounting: 50%
- Yes, by 5 percent or less: 9%
- Yes, by 10 percent or less: 18%
- Yes, 15 percent or less: 12%
- Yes, by 20 percent or less: 4%
- Yes, by more than 20 percent: 6%