Special Events

Summer 2008 Busy for Special Events

As we wrap this issue, the Summer Olympics in Beijing are still in full swing. The closing ceremonies are yet to come, but anyone who watched the opening ceremonies — even if just on TV — was astonished. Former Special Events Magazine Advisory Board member Colja Dams, CEO of German event powerhouse Vok Dams Group, has seen many wonderful events in many wonderful cities. Yet he told us that the 2008 opening ceremonies were “by far the best live event I ever attended.”

Mega events such as the Olympic Games and the U.S. presidential elections this year are always a huge boost to the special event business. This is clear in the statistics presented in our seventh annual “50 Top Event Companies” list, which starts on page 27. Despite the sour economic news worldwide, our respondents predict 2008 will be a strong year. They expect a 7 percent increase in the number of events they will produce this year over last and a healthy 8 percent boost in revenue. This is a far cry from the results in 2007, when our respondents predicted only a 2 percent gain in revenue for that year over the year prior and only a mild uptick — 1 percent — in total events produced.

Yet the tough economy is giving a rough ride to another big segment of our readership: fundraisers. Rising prices, falling home values, the credit crunch — all these factors are putting the bite on donors who might otherwise open their wallets to deserving causes.

If you are the event planner behind a good cause, quitting is not an option. Staging successful fundraisers when times are tough is the focus of our cover story this month; turn to page 34.

Anne Dunsmore — who has been in the money-raising business for 30 years — is our “Guest Room” interview. Wealth never goes away, she tells us; it just shifts to another segment. Savvy fundraisers will stay on top of these shifting sands, adjusting elements of their events but never giving up the soul of what they do. Turn to page 20 to read the whole story.

Which brings us back to the Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing. Reports that some event elements had been fudged by producers — lip-synching by one performer, fireworks displays jazzed up with prerecorded segments — have dimmed some of the luster of the event.

Event professionals have bigger dreams than most people. They can imagine perfection. But shooting for perfection by using shortcuts undermines the integrity of special events, and thereby their unique power. Stick with what's true; it's powerful.

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