After a tough 2010, when overall revenue fell 1 percent, the biggest event planning companies forecast a stronger year in 2011, predicting a 9 percent boost in revenue on average. The results come from Special Events' 10th annual "50 Top Event Planning Companies" list.
Year-to-year comparisons in the special event business can be deceiving because the activities of many companies are dominated by events tied to a four-year cycle. For example, the U.S. presidential election next year will bring a slew of public and private events, ranging from both political parties' conventions to galas and fundraisers. Already, some event companies are gearing up for the 2012 Olympic Games, coming to London in July.
ADDING NEW CAPABILITIES
Notably, many of the companies on the "50 Top" list have been added capabilities—largely social media and event measurement tools—to better deliver effective events for clients.
For example, international event powerhouse Vok Dams Group is harnessing the power of hybrid events--mixing live events with mobile, social and local technologies--for clients including Coca-Cola China, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Porsche Automotive and Microsoft.
SHIFT IN FOCUS
Several companies have rebranded themselves since last year.
Go West Event Productions of Westlake Village, Calif., is now Go West Creative. "Building on our design expertise in multimedia and event production and technical execution acumen, we have taken the opportunity in 2011 to broaden our offerings as a full-service creative agency," explains president and CEO David Fischette. "With this new focus, name change and brand identity, we have built a new client base through strategic execution in brand experiences, while increasing our dedication and commitment to our existing clients by providing a holistic approach to their event and brand needs."
As always, changes in client demands affect what the big event companies do and how they do it.
One company on the "50 Top" list now does fewer customer-facing events for a major client. Instead, the company is working more with its client's personnel to get them "on board with [the client's] brands and strategies," according to the company's CEO, who asks to remain anonymous to protect client confidentiality.
"This effort is to get all their personnel all over the world, including at the retail level, to embrace a more 'Apple' style of dealing with customers," the CEO notes. The days of splashy customer-facing road shows "seem to be gone due to tighter budgets and a maturing of the industry to now responsibly focus on ROI." He adds, "It has been good for our business—but not as much fun!"
All told, the 50 companies listed by Special Events pull in nearly $1.7 billion in revenue annually.
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