Special Events
Event Staffing Agencies See Business Boost for 2012

Event Staffing Agencies See Business Boost for 2012

Business for event staffing agencies is heating up, showing that the economic recovery is gaining steam.

It's an old rule of thumb that if the temporary staffing business is growing, then the economy is ready to grow too. And based on reports from staffing agencies that specialize in special events, the future is looking brighter for the event industry as a whole.

Read tips on handling freelance event staff.

Founded in 1999, Eventpro Strategies of Scottsdale, Ariz., provides event and experiential marketing staffing and execution in both the U.S. and Canada. The company has seen a nice bounce in business this year: "In the first quarter of 2012, EPS has had a growth in the number of RFPs of over 22 percent in comparison to first quarter 2010," reports founder and CEO Jessica Stackpoole. "We are finding health and beauty, retail, consumer products groups and entertainment marketing sectors to be the strongest thus far this year."

MORE EVENTS, MORE STAFF

St. Louis-based Current Temp shares a similar story.

"We've seen a 112 percent increase in revenue for the first quarter to 2012 versus 2010, thanks in part to clients who are booking more on-site staff per program," explains manager of operations Melanie Dixon.

The nine-year-old company, which is owned by big DMC MAC Meetings and Events, provides staffing for corporate meetings and events; "Our programs range from one person needed to work at a pharmaceutical meeting to 35 people needed to work an industrial conference and registration area," Dixon explains. The company provides staffing for 400 to 500 programs each year.

Looking ahead, "We are forecasting better for 2012 than 2011; however, the turnaround seems to be even shorter than it was in 2011," Dixon says. "Business will be better in 2012 in quantity of programs needing on-site staff and in diversity of programs," she adds. More requests for staffing from her existing client base plus a growing number of referrals "are bringing in more RFPs each day."

CUTTING CATERERS?

Service Is Us points to a 10 percent boost in business in 2011 over the year prior, with 2012 so far up 12 percent "in what is generally a slow quarter," reports director of human resources John P. Tamayo. Founded in 1989, the Chicago-based company provides professional waitstaff, bartenders, culinary staff and event captains to a range of clients including caterers, corporate dining facilities, hotels, law firms, country clubs and private homes.

One factor driving the boost in business: "What we have seen is that more and more of our clients are making an attempt to do their events without full-service caterers," Tamayo notes. And while the economy seems to be improving, this hasn't meant that fewer applicants come to Service Is Us. "The economy has no real impact on the number of people seeking employment with our company," Tamayo explains. "What we have seen is that there are more college-educated individuals seeking part-time work or a major change of careers."

In contrast to the agencies quoted above, business this year "is still a little slack," says Randy Hopp, owner of 12-year-old Culinary Staffing Service of Los Angeles. However, "I think it will firm up in 2012 at a constant pace," she adds. "I don't see any blockbuster moves coming up."

PRICING PRESSURE

The big driver today, Hopp says, is the cost-conscious client. "It used to be entirely about service," she says. "Now, it's entirely about cost."

And even though unemployment remains high in California compared with the rest of the U.S., Hopp hasn't seen a flood of job applicants.

Many people "just don't feel the urgency to accept positions and actually make a living versus going to get unemployment [insurance payments]," she says. "I try and stress to people, the more you work, the more employers will ask you to come back again and again; they will create a job for you. But when you come in with your hands in pockets and twiddle your thumbs, there is no reason for someone to hire you."

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