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Special Events

Collaboration a Boon, Competition a Bane, Leaders Say

THE THREAT TO business posed by the uncertain economy remains the No. 1 worry of special event professionals, a response consistent over the last three years. The finding comes from a poll conducted annually at the Leadership Lunch during The Special Event, the conference and trade show sponsored in January by Special Events Magazine. The Meetinghouse Companies, Elmhurst, Ill., conducts the poll using the “Reply” audience response system.

Since its start in 2001, the poll has posed a variety of questions to top-tier event professionals. Over the last three years, the poll has shown a decline in concern over such obstacles as an “unprofessional image” of the special event industry and “a labor shortage/lack of skilled labor.” For example, in 2001, 9 percent of respondents cited an “unprofessional image” as the greatest challenge to the event industry, a figure that fell to 7 percent in 2003. Worries about the “labor shortage/lack of skilled labor” were cited as a top concern by 11 percent of respondents in 2001, but that figure dropped to only 2 percent this year.

However, event industry leaders reveal they are increasingly concerned about the problem of “too many event professionals chasing the same clientele.” This concern was the No. 1 worry of 8 percent of respondents in 2001, a figure that increased to 16 percent in 2002 and to 19 percent in 2003.

At the same time, the fear that “special events are regarded as nonessential” fell to its lowest point in the last three years. This was cited as the No. 1 threat by 33 percent of respondents in 2003, compared with a high of 38 percent in 2002 (perhaps a reaction to the attacks of 9/11) and 34 percent in 2001. Concern over the threat posed by “consolidation of the client base” also dropped, from being regarded as the worst threat by 11 percent of respondents in 2001 to 6 percent in 2002 and to only 2 percent in 2003.

A growing number of event professionals name “increasing collaboration of event professionals” as the industry's greatest strength. Some 11 percent of respondents said so in 2001, a figure that jumped to 19 percent in 2002 and to 28 percent in 2003. Over the last three years, the factor named the No. 1 strength of the event industry has remained the “growing acceptance of special events as important social and corporate tools.” However, the percentage of respondents citing this as No. 1 fell from a high of 55 percent in 2001 to 34 percent in 2003.

Other survey results appear below:

What is your typical lead time from inquiry to event?
Less than two weeks 18%
Two to four weeks 21%
One to two months 30%
Three to four months 18%
More than four months 12%

What is your primary method of obtaining new customers?
Referrals 81%
Advertising 5%
Cold calls 5%
Industry conferences 4%
Volunteer work 2%
Web site 2%
Walk-ins 1%

Source: Leadership Lunch poll at The Special Event 2003


The Meetinghouse Companies, 630/941-0600

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