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“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

I'M SURE THAT most event professionals agree with the Red Queen.

It's taken all their effort and ingenuity to stay productive over the last several sluggish years. And although the picture looks brighter, we're going to have to stay on the run to stay in the game.

Our 2004 corporate event marketplace survey (beginning on page 23) shows the improving picture. In a nutshell, more people are predicting they will stage more events this year than last, and even bigger numbers next year. Also, fewer respondents see a negative trend; in fact, the biggest statistical variance between this year's survey and the one we printed last year was a sign of stabilization in corporate events. It's not a return to the dizzy days of the dot-com parties, but welcome news nonetheless.

One of the features that struck me as I compared this year's study to last year's was the big boost in how many of our in-house planners are now measuring or plan to measure the ROI of their events — from 54 percent last year to 65 percent this year. While about a third of respondents said last year that they have no plans to measure ROI, that figure fell to only 20 percent this year.

It was also striking to see the sophisticated ROI measuring tools that our readers use. “We calculate revenue from attending clients and prospects both before and after the event and divide that by the event cost to approximate ROI per event,” notes one. “We assign a monetary value to all promotional and public relations initiatives resulting from pre- and post-event publicity and marketing efforts,” explains another.

Of course, developing such strategic ROI measurement tools and then following through with the pre- and post-event evaluations means that staging special events successfully is going to take even more work.

Who ever thought the Red Queen knew so much about event planning?

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