It was, as baseball great Yogi Berra put it so beautifully, déjà vu all over again.
As I was doing research for this issue, I flipped through our Special Events Magazine archives. One article discussed how hotels are battling for dollars and how event producers turn out great events in the face of tight budgets. It was an article from January 1992.
The special event profession is so young that some of the bright lights in the business today might not know what it's like to work in a world where revenue growth registers in anything less than double digits.
But interviews for our annual forecast article (see page 32) tell us about today's realities. Our readers describe the aggressive steps they are taking to keep on producing great events in the face of an unsettled economic and emotional climate. Responses from our readers show hardheaded business sense — increasing advertising, boosting sales efforts, exceeding client expectations while holding the line on prices.
Notably, a theme that has little to do with business tactics kept coming up in our interviews. Several readers said that an essential tool to get through the current uncertainty is a strong dose of self-examination. This went beyond the familiar theme of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Instead, I heard the assertion repeatedly that event professionals today must reach down deep and start holding themselves to a higher standard.
As Bob Gregory of Los Angeles-based Parties by Celebrations put it: “I believe it is time for this industry to do a certain amount of housekeeping. We need to start working together toward a single goal: to have every event for every client be produced and executed as well as possible given each individual circumstance. We need to embrace our competition when they live in an ethical world, and we need to make rules and standards and hold ourselves and our industry who don't live in an ethical world up to those standards. Stress is a common factor in our industry, and stress can lead to unprofessional or unethical choices. This is the time to start addressing these issues so that all involved can have a better and more meaningful experience.”
If you need a little inspiration for producing great events, then treat yourself to profiles of our Gala Award nominees.
I wish you all the best in 2002.