MY years at Special Events Magazine have taught me that the social event market is practically bulletproof. The stock market can soar or swoon, yet proud parents will make sure their babies — age 3, 13 or 33 — have birthday bashes, marvelous mitzvahs and wonderful weddings.
The corporate event market, though, is a bit more skittish. Even when the economy is strong, the corporate brass can be ambivalent about special events. Management knows that incentive events inspire top performers to reach even higher, client-appreciation events strengthen relationships, and product launches generate media buzz that money can't buy. But management often frets that special events (sometimes described with the dreaded “p” word — “parties”) somehow aren't business. Even though they boost brands, profits and morale, events might be seen as frivolous, a sign that management is investing in nothing more than a good time. In other words, the business world loves events for the message they send but worries about the “message” they send.
But everything moves in cycles, and the cycle is high for corporate special events. According to our latest study, corporate event planners forecast a strong year in 2006 and an even better year in 2007.
One in four respondents tell us they will stage more corporate events in 2006 compared with their “typical” amount, and a healthy 41 percent say they will hold more events in 2007 than in 2006. This is the most optimistic outlook for the next year's business in the history of the survey. In 2005, for example, 27 percent of respondents said they expected to produce more special events the following year; in 2003, only 24 percent said so.
One in four respondents tell us that they have increased their spending on corporate special events by 6 percent or more this year, compared with 2005 levels. Four in ten respondents say they will increase their expenditure in 2007 compared with 2006.
Seventeen percent of respondents say that their company's budget allocation for corporate special events will increase by 6 percent or more in 2007 compared with 2006.
In perhaps the strongest signal to management that special events mean business, the majority of our respondents tell us they attempt to measure the ROI (return on investment) of their special events — again, this is the highest percentage reported to date. In 2003, only a third said they attempted to measure ROI. For more survey results, turn to page 21 in this issue.
And we're growing, too. I'm pleased to announce that Christine Landry has joined our staff as assistant editor. She comes to us with both a strong journalism background and a keen interest in special events. You can see her work in this month's “Rental Essentials,” beginning on page 43.
We're looking forward to big things, too.