As Election Day, November 6, approaches, we asked some event industry professionals to explain how they’re deciding which presidential candidate will win their vote.
I'm voting for President Obama because I believe he has been an incredibly effective leader, has restored dignity to the office of the president, and continues to steer the nation through one of the worst economic, political, and social periods in modern history.
We are slowly coming out of what could have been an economic disaster for the events industry, which inevitably runs parallel to the economy. It’s a recovery that has been slow and difficult because it is based on rebuilding financial security and growth block-by-block.
In 2006, two of my best clients told me that they were not going ahead with major trade shows for which I had done elaborate events. In one fell swoop my company took a hit that seemed to be an indication of things to come. I called other event producers and asked if they had similar experiences—I was surprised to learn that they also had suddenly lost big business. Warning bells went off in my head.
Marketing and PR expenditures are anathema to company presidents and boards of directors because return on investment is oftentimes difficult or impossible to gauge. These very budgets were the first to be cut and usually are the last to be restored. These are the departments and the people who hire event producers. There is also public image to consider—many companies, non-profits, and government agencies are keenly aware of this and handle delicately even in the best of economic times. A lavish event, regardless of the marketing objectives, can be perceived as flagrant and uncaring toward those who have been laid off or terminated while reeling from the strains of an economic downturn. All of these things combined have put many event production companies and their suppliers on the ropes, looking for ways to cultivate new business, cradle existing clients, and keep employees and suppliers calm. It hasn’t been easy.
Things finally seem to be loosening up, and money is flowing again. I don't think any other person as president could have safely made this turnaround happen any sooner. Politicians will promise anything to get elected; offering magic pills and elixirs, reciting bogus statistics, and playing on people’s fears, misfortune, and impatience. But a real economic recovery takes time, and small gains are real gains. Event producers must now reinvent old event models and look for new ways to engage with clients and the public including expert knowledge, use of social media platforms, and by promoting the idea that events can be income generating.
I believe that we democrats willingly take on the responsibility of inclusion. It’s not easy, but great things never are, and to me, the very concepts of inclusion, collaboration, and unbridled vision are the essence of what constitutes successful and memorable events.
Carl M. George is an event producer, designer, and consultant based out of New York, Los Angeles, and Morocco.