Fasten your seat belt: It looks as though the event industry is going big in 2016.
In our annual survey, conducted for us by Penton Research, some 82 percent of independent event pros expect to stage the same number or more events in 2016 than they did in 2015, and that percentage rises to a whopping 89 percent for in-house event pros. Worries about the economy have dipped to the lowest level in the last 10 years of the annual Special Events survey: Only 20 percent of in-house event pros list "an uncertain economy" as one of the greatest challenge[s] in the new year, while the figure is 33 percent for independents. See the full story starting on page 8.
This issue also brings us the 2016 Gala Award nominees. Special Events has honored top event work since 1986, and this year's crop of candidates for the big award is stunning. Imagine: a re-creation of the Serengeti in a barren airplane hangar (thanks, Future Affairs), a sinister Halloween carnival with crazed clowns (that's you, Kristin Banta Events), and a Great Wall of China created from parasols (Alison Silcoff and Decor and More—no surprise). Treat your imagination and enjoy it all starting on page 13.
And sad to say, as I write this many in the event industry join with me in mourning the sudden loss of Jon Michaels. He served as a principal of event powerhouse Extraordinary Events, a firm founded by his legendary mother, Andrea. He was a committed event pro, dedicated family man and devout Kings hockey fan.
Jon kindly served on the Special Events Advisory Board, so I had the pleasure of spending time with him when he came to our offices to judge Gala Award entries. I had always admired the events he worked on with his team, but these in-person meetings gave me a better picture of his calm approach and his kind heart. I am now even more grateful for those moments.
Also as I write, my team and I are getting ready to see many of you at The Special Event 2016, Jan. 11-14 in Orlando, Fla. Between the exhibit floor, the education sessions and the showcasing events, I will be lucky enough to meet face-to-face with many of you. And it will be those meetings—those special events-- that warm my heart and inspire my work.
How grateful I am for special events, and how grateful I am for all of you—the very-special event community. May all your hopes and dreams come true in 2016.