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Event Pros Share Hopes, Concerns for 2018 Business Outlook

The latest Special Events forecast shows a bullish outlook, but headaches remain.

Overall, event planners are bullish on the New Year. According to the 2018 Event Planner Forecast--a Special Events exclusive—some 83 percent of independent event planners expect to stage the same number or more special events in 2018 than they did in 2017. That figure rises to 92 percent for in-house event planners, who expect to produce the same number or more special more special events in 2018 than they did last year.

But the pressure to produce just never goes away. The challenger of “shorter lead times” has climbed to the No. 1 worry on the list of independent event planners, and is No. 2 for in-house event planners. Several members of the Special Events Advisory Board say that uncertainty about the economy and turmoil in politics both at home and abroad keeps the industry on tenterhooks.

“We’re hoping for some stabilization in geo-politics and some certainty in business planning,” explains Patrick Cuccaro, managing director of Atlanta-based Affairs to Remember Caterers. “Our larger clients are beginning to feel less inclined to make big commitments in today’s uncertain geo-political and economic climate.”

WHERE ARE THE WORKERS? Of course, the special events won’t come off at all if there is no labor team to install them, and the threat of “labor shortage/lack of skilled labor is regarded as a threat by 37 percent of independent event pros and 31 percent of in-house event pros.

Indeed, several Advisory Board members say finding and keeping a team capable of delivering professional events is a big headache today.

“The younger generation often lacks the commitment or realizes the level of commitment needed in this industry,” says J. Wilbur Smith, president of Atlanta-based Eventscapes. “Often the ‘wanting to work’ people end up with a birthday party to attend that is more important.”

Another tough reality of today’s event world: rising concern over safety and security. The team at Memphis, Tenn.-based LEO Events will be “planning for and implementing a very detailed safety and security plan for each and every event” in 2018, according to co-founder Cindy Brewer, DMCP. “We used to only have plans for the larger events but now, every event, is up for scrutiny.”

STARTING TO STRATEGIZE In some good news, the overall positive mood about business means event pros can stop scrambling for business day to day and start taking a strategic view of their operations …

The complete article, including 10 years of lookback data, will appear in the Winter 2018 issue of Special Events, available only to subscribers. Not a subscriber? We can fix that; just click here.

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