Special Events
Event Planner Forecast 2011

Event Planner Forecast 2011

With signs pointing to a rebound in business, members of the Special Events Advisory Board share their strategies for cost-effective operations.

While we're certainly not back to the glory days of 2007, confidence in the future of special events is rebounding strongly, with both in-house and independent event pros predicting they will produce more events in 2011. The findings come from a survey conducted annually since 2002 by Penton Media, parent company of Special Events.


Ironically, the rebounding economy brings its own challenges. International event production company Imagination, headquartered in London, streamlined its operations to cope with the tough market, according to director of special events Richard Foulkes, a strategy that has paid off. However, an upturn in the market will not only bring the need to add staffing, but also require “making sure we don't over-commit ourselves with too much overhead in case of another dip in the economy,” he notes.

Because she launched her business — Dallas-based Premier Special Events — in the “middle of the recession,” Yvette Audrain, CSEP, CPCE, says she is used to running a tight ship. “That being said, we continue to search for ways to add value to our clients' experience without adding cost to the bottom line,” she adds. “We constantly evaluate the efficiency of our office operations to be certain we share as much of our time with our clients as possible.”

Even as they must continue to work on skintight budgets, most event pros feel ongoing pressure to offer exciting innovations in their events. And Kelley Gillespie, event planner/producer with GEM Associates of Vienna, Va., is counting on her vendors to help her come up with new concepts.

“There's much more brainpower if we can each bring something we've seen or heard or read and collectively come up with a solution,” Gillespie explains. And she definitely doesn't want to see the same old, same old.


“I'm looking for ideas from them to turn the standard reception on end and devise something new,” Gillespie says. “No more lobster mac and cheese, please!”

“A three-hour party format with reception, dinner and speeches now needs to morph into an event with a gimmick,” she explains. “Can we incorporate some sort of message board so attendees can post electronic notes or write graffiti? Or with a purpose — can we use celebrity chefs who will donate proceeds to charity, or use all recycled decor to help reduce our carbon footprint?”

Claire Stroope, a senior in-house event manager with a major technology firm, echoes the partnership theme.

As she narrows her vendor list to a select roster of preferred partners, “We are working with our strategic partner-suppliers to bring new, innovative event ideas and services to our requestors,” Stroope says, “being the eyes and ears in the field to keep our messaging and event deliveries fresh.”

Leslee Bell, president of Toronto-based Decor and More, wants to function not only as the eyes and ears but also the “right hand that our clients need when they are understaffed,” she says. “We have tried to make ourselves indispensable as a supplier/partner.”


Bell's company has developed signature lines in tabletop expressions and innovative new rental props. “Instead of waiting for a call for the unique and different,” she says, “we are using the ‘build it or design it and they will want it’ approach, with one-of-a-kind temporary environments.”environments.”






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