“CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION” is the headline we gave our annual feature on weddings and other social events, and this year's issue brings us much to celebrate.
The jolts of 2001 have changed much about our world. But they also have served also to strengthen society's commitment to celebrating the sacred moments of our personal lives: weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and other family fêtes.
Also in this issue, we recap the results from our Leadership Lunch. This annual meeting, which we stage during The Special Event, gives business leaders in the special event industry a unique opportunity to pool their opinions on the challenges and opportunities facing our business. Turn to page 33 for this year's results.
I decided to compare the results from the 2002 poll with those from 2001. While the opinions of the industry's leaders shifted 180 degrees on some questions, on others, however, they remain remarkably — reassuringly — consistent.
For example, a shortage of skilled employees was seen as one of the top three challenges facing the special event industry in 2001, while the hurdle of too many event professionals chasing the same client base was seen as less important.
What a difference a year makes. The recession that began last year made short work of the labor shortage, while the specter of increased competition for clients came to the forefront.
On the other hand, the industry leaders continue to show a fundamental optimism about the future of the special event profession, even after all the upheaval of 2001.
For example, while 35 percent of those polled expected their business to increase by 20 percent or more in 2001, a resilient 21 percent expect that big a boost in 2002. A total of 20 percent expected a rise of 10 percent in 2001; that figure has increased to 23 percent in 2002.
The statistic I found most striking was the powerful conviction in both 2001 and 2002 that the industry's greatest strength is the growing acceptance of special events as important social and corporate tools. In 2001, a total of 55 percent of our leaders said this acceptance was the No. 1 strength by far of the industry, a figure that dipped a scant 2 percent in 2002.
The marvelous experiences that special event professionals create for families, colleagues, customers and clients will stay strong because they make us feel strong.