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State of the Industry 2021 Forecast, part 3

Part 3 in the State of the Industry 2021 forecast

Editor's note: This is part 3 in our 2021 State of the Industry. Check out part 1 and part 2.

We have seen some wonderful new products come through from manufacturers and suppliers, springing to assist us with the challenges we face—not just with guest interaction, but also for use within our own companies. So, let’s talk health and safety protocol for a bit.

While we can do everything under the sun to mask up, glove up, spritz and shield our employees (54% of companies do health screenings themselves in house), issues related to guest compliance remain challenging. We asked:

In your estimation, what percentage of your events
have you experienced client- or guest-imposed violations of COVID-related regulations or operating restrictions?

  • 51%  have experienced violations imposed by guests

How is this handled? Not all companies are assuming responsibility for the policing of their guests, though nearly two-thirds (62%), are absorbing the cost of PPE and other COVID-related necessities.  


Fundraising galas went online and included food delivery, some aspects of live, and big stars, happy to dial in remotely for a good cause. Photo courtesy Marcia Selden Catering and Events.

In most states, masks (89%), social distancing (91%), and limited guest counts (90%) are the norm. In the area of F&B, buffets (53%) and stations (29%) were not allowed as of September 30, 2020.

Regarding staffing

Despite that furloughs definitely occurred, 71% of respondents said they had not been furloughed during the prime time of March through September 2020. Unfortunately, the other 29% did and of that, 19% were still furloughed when filling out the survey. 

I also asked for a comparison about number of employees on staff in 2019 versus 2020 so we could gain an overall view regarding how companies have been affected. Overall, staffs have not been reduced much, only by about 9%. That is incredibly lucky. 

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The Hotel Confidente, Miami added a masked “cupid concierge” to make a room stay even more delightful.
 Photo courtesy Hotel Confidente

I’d like to point out a comparison. I also asked this question of our catering audience via Catersource magazine. In that survey, staff have been reduced by 54%, an industry much harder hit. 

Diversity & inclusion

Finally, we asked about company culture with an eye on diversity, inclusion, #metoo, and other concerning issues. We asked the following statements, and how strongly one agreed or did not agree with them:

  • My company employs an adequately diverse group of employees.
  • My company needs to proactively address issues of diversity & inclusion.
  • Racial, ethnic, LGBTQ and gender-based jokes or comments are not tolerated at my company.

What did we uncover? 36% agree or strongly agree that their companies could employ a more diverse group; over 29% agree or strongly agree that their companies need to be more proactive in addressing issues of D&I; and 88% agree or strongly agree that their companies do not tolerate jokes or comments that target individuals. A mixed bag of news but at its core, the event industry has a way to go in developing a more diverse employee base. Conversely, in the catering industry, over 80% of individuals surveyed agreed that their companies adequately do not employ a diverse group of individuals. That’s a huge jump.

When asked about discrimination on the job, 77% noted that they have not personally witnessed discrimination at the companies they work for and 90% said they have not been discriminated against at their companies of employ. Good news, yes, but not banner news until we reach 100%. 

In closing, I’d like to note that the tenacity and creativity of event professionals and caterers is inspiring! I salute you!

Better times are ahead, my friends.

Check out the Special Events Magazine Winter Issue for 10 years of look-back data.

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