“IT'S NO RETURN to the exuberant days of the late '90s, when corporate events were big, fun, and well-financed, but clearly there is some optimism out there.” That's the word from Lisa Hurley, editor, Special Events magazine, Malibu, Calif., commenting on the results from her publication's annual event industry research study.
“This study bears out what we hear throughout the industry,” she says. “Corporate event spending has stabilized and is starting back up.” The numbers from the 171 corporate planners who responded to the survey make her case. Thirty-eight percent say spending on corporate special events is up for 2004 — including 8 percent who say it's up more than 10 percent. A third of respondents report that 2004 spending is level with 2003, while only 19 percent are working with lower spending. That compares well to the 2003 industry survey, in which 34 percent were reporting decreased spending on special events.
Looking ahead to 2005, most respondents see expenditures staying stable or trending upward: 37 percent expect an increase; 43 expect the same expenditures as 2004; and just 10 percent expect a drop. (Eleven percent were unsure or didn't answer the question.)
Few respondents — only 4 percent — expect the number of events to decrease in 2005. More than one in four (28 percent) say their organization will stage more events in 2005 than in 2004, while the remaining 68 percent anticipate the same number of events.
Finally, it seems that the number of corporations using independent event planners to organize their special events is holding steady. This year, 27 percent of the respondents use independents versus 28 percent in 2003. Nine percent say they are considering it, compared to 10 percent last year.
The survey is available for purchase at www.specialevents.com.