Companies are not cutting back on events. A recent reader survey by our sister magazine Special Events reveals that 57 percent of event planners — both in-house and independent — expect to stage more events in 2007 than they did in 2006. Just under 30 percent say that they will likely stage the same number this year as last year, and less than 4 percent say that they will stage fewer events.

Also clear is that events are not just about entertainment anymore. “To be frank, gone are the days of too much fluff and not enough focus,” says Richard Foulkes, director of special events for London-based Imagination Ltd. “Events now have to engage, entertain, and deliver messages that hit all the touch points of current society while being true to the values of the client.”

Along with producing sophisticated events, meeting and event planners will have to become more sophisticated about how event costs are allocated and paid.

As she plans events this year, Sharon Marsh, CMP, operations manager of global programs/meetings services for San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems, will focus on identifying preferred vendors “who are trained in our internal processes and guidelines,” she explains. She expects this to reduce the number of vendors she works with but give her “the ability to do more with less.”

This increased attention to payment cuts both ways. Steve Kemble, of Dallas-based Steve Kemble Event Design, believes that planners will spend more time this year educating corporate clients “that we are here to produce events, not finance them,” he says. “We cannot float a $250,000 party for 30 or more days. I use the analogy that we are like a restaurant: You eat, you pay!”