THERE are certain signs that tell you your business is going well, and they aren't always on the balance sheet. At Special Events Magazine, I know we have reached a new benchmark because, event planners tell me, people have started trying to crash parties by pretending they work for us. I am so proud … I think.
Our February issue brings our annual focus on event rental, and this year's edition of our rental forecast shows signs that this segment of special events is going well. Fully 76 percent of our respondents, all party rental professionals, tell us they expect to handle more events in 2007 than they did in 2006. This is the most optimistic prediction for an upcoming year's business that we've seen in the five-year history of our survey.
Signs of how strong event rental is right now run throughout the survey responses. In our first study, reflecting the market's mood in 2003, nearly three-fourths of our respondents cited “an uncertain economy” as one of the greatest challenges they faced. That headache dropped to seventh place in this year's study, cited by only 25 percent of our respondents. Five years ago, just over a third of our respondents said that the “labor shortage/lack of skilled labor” was a hurdle for their business. But in 2007, more than half of respondents say a lack of qualified workers could dampen their prospects for success. You can read the whole story by turning to page 38.
So much of what makes event rental an exciting side of special events are the strong personalities who shape it. The subject of this issue's “The Last Word” is Michael Berk of M&M The Special Events Co. Like so many in special events, he started as an entrepreneur, but he is now riding the consolidation wave. He shares his insights; see page 66 for more.
As Special Events Magazine celebrates our 25th year, it's good to remember that our magazine started in 1982 as a quarterly insert in Rental Equipment Register, our sister magazine covering tool and construction equipment rental. Someone who does remember is Daniel Kaplan, former head of giant Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. and now a rental guru. He brings a uniquely broad perspective to event rental, and you can read more about it in this issue's “Guest Room” on page 22.
The two big drivers behind the event rental industry are, of course, the economy and trends. One growing trend is the popularity of milestone birthday parties. Turning 30, 40 or 50 is no longer a time to hide but a time to shine. Birthday boys and girls are throwing themselves grown-up parties, and the event industry is rising to the occasion. For more, see our feature on page 49. It's a good sign of good times.