Poll: How Is the Economy Affecting Your Events?

By Lourdes Branch August 14, 2008, 3:56 PM EDT

As the economy continues to dip, we decided to check in with a few internal and independent planners and vendors to see how the foreboding climate has affected their event schedules this year and looking ahead to 2009. With only a few taking on a lighter workload, it seems that 2008 has been more about making due and masking cost-cutting efforts than actual downsizing.

“I think the economic climate is affecting everything whether we like it or not. It seems like everyone has a lot less to work with, but they are trying to work with what they have.”
—Seth Dolan, West Coast event manager, MAC Cosmetics, Los Angeles

“We do have more open dates around holiday time than we did last year, so perhaps companies are cutting back on extravagant holiday parties, but they may also be waiting to see if the climate changes before committing to a space. Last spring was the Whitney Biennial, which is always a magnet for external events, so it remains to be seen how busy spring of 2009 will be. I definitely expect that if the current economic climate continues, we will see either a drop in the number of events or reduced budgets for events.”
—Gina Rogak, director of special events, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

“We’re busier [this year]… Everything from gas, rent, and overhead costs has gone up, which is hurting the bottom line, but we are maintaining last season's rates to keep their budgets lower and make it work for the planners.”
—Barry Meyerson, owner, Meyerson & Associates, a New York-based security firm

“As a new film company, this is our exciting first year of theatrical film releases, so we are tremendously busy with film premieres. I don’t think the economy is affecting events as far as people not having them. I mean people are still celebrating, but I think the economy is affecting the types of events people are doing; the way they are doing them is shifting. Events are becoming much more concentrated and streamlined with people really targeting their audience instead of just blasting out invitations.”
—Tonya Toone, director of events and promoting, Overture Films, Los Angeles

“We just had our first anniversary, so I am a lot busier this year because we are trying to do bigger and more budgeted events. There is still  an emphasis on events marketing for us… The economy hasn’t affected our events in particular, but I have found that companies have scaled back. They are trying to do the same number of events, but they are doing different types of events, like, you aren’t seeing the same old holiday parties. Also, corporate sponsorship companies are scaling back, and it is harder to get sponsorship.”
—Jessie Rubin, marketing and promotions manager, Metromix LA/Los Angeles Times Media Group, Los Angeles

“We are busier this year than last year. Our repeat business is the same and the number of events is the same, but people are cutting back on things like the level of the bar package, the quantity of food, and they are looking for more affordable venues. They’re also cutting back the number of attendees.”
—Britt Whitfield, C.E.O., Revel Global Events, Chicago

“I am busier this year. I think what is happening right now is that media is a very cluttered space. If you are trying to get a message out, you have television, print, and online, but you need a whole lot of money to reach a group of people, so the best way to do that is experientially. People are still using events to accomplish what they would have done with advertising because there is so much crap coming at you on the Web and other places that you don’t remember any of it. What you do remember is going to Gotham Hall and watching Lenny Kravitz perform. The experiential nature of events is definitely taking over as a legitimized form of communication.”
—Bentley Meeker, owner, Bentley Meeker Lighting & Staging, New York

“There is more budget conscientiousness [this year]. Corporate clients are looking to reduce budgets, and there is a continuing theme with clients to not appear excessive. Even if we are using the same budgets we have to make sure it appears like they spent less. There is also a perception with planners that audiences want to know that they are cognizant of the economic climate.”
—Nancy D. Shaffer, founder and president, Bravo! Events by Design, Washington, D.C.

“We have actually had twice as many events this year as last [year]. We have not seen any slowdown or restrained budgets so far. We also aren't hearing that message from our clients.”
—Chris MacKechnie, managing partner, Slingshot Inc., a Toronto-based marketing and communications firm

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