If there was a common theme at The Special Event 2007, held last week in Los Angeles, it was that this industry, which started out as a cottage industry (or a "garage industry," as insiders like to describe it) has finally evolved into a profession.
Not only were most of the week's paid events—from an over-the-top, two-hour wedding lunch to the final evening's Gala Awards (see below)—sold out, but they have clearly reached a trend-setting level. For example, the opening night saw the Los Angeles Convention Center transformed into a diamond-encrusted party, with the theme of "Diva Bling." Produced by L.A.'s Charles Banfield Productions, it featured live performances by divas, including the amazing Eartha Kitt, who also donated a ring to support the show's charity, The Search Foundation, which assists event planners in need.
As much as events are at the heart of The Special Event experience, the education this year also took center stage, with event pros tackling controversial subjects such as the evolving role of corporate procurement indecisions and the conflicts that arise when vendors bypass event planners and attempt to work directly with clients.
Among the trends at the accompanying three-day exhibition: Falling prices are making digital signage affordable in sizes never before imagined; L.A. and South Beach entertainers are driving the look for events across the country; and companies are returning to the basics with their corporate events and choosing elegance over flashiness. For an article focusing on the 15 top trends from the show floor, look for the March issue of& Incentives.
During the Academy Awards–style final evening at the Shrine Auditorium, Special Events Magazine Editor Lisa Hurley awarded Gala Awards in 35 categories. Click here for the winners in the corporate events category. Also honored with the Gala Award for Lifetime Achievement was Joann Roth-Oseary, founder of caterer Someone's in the Kitchen, Tarzana, Calif., for her ongoing philanthropy. The Special Event is produced by Prism Business Media, parent company of The Meetings Group magazines. For more, visit www.thespecialeventshow.com