Are Social Events the New Corporate?
There can be no doubt that the last few years have forever changed the events industry. For some, it has changed not only how they do events, but the type of events they do as well. Many planners originally focused on corporate events have now opened up their doors to the social arena and have found incredible success, like Meghan Schinderle, CEO & senior event planner for Los Angeles-based event company Intertwined.
“When we first opened our company we focused primarily on corporate events,” said Schinderle. “To date, corporate events make up the smallest percentage of our business.” And she’s not alone. Lisa McGowan, president of AWA Meetings & A Wondrous Affair in Winnetka, Ill. shares a similar story. “Since the recession, my business has grown significantly in the social and non-profit sectors while being reduced in the corporate arena. My bread and butter events are now my non-profit gala fundraisers.”
But why the switch to social and non-profit events? Of course a reduction of budgets in the corporate sector coupled with public scrutiny have been the strongest factors driving down corporate events, but why haven’t social events seen the same drop? In many cases, social and non-profit events are increasing, but why? Carol Galle, president of Royal Oak, Mich.-based Special D Events has a theory.
“While some of our corporate clients opted to postpone their annual meetings and events, our non-profit clients still need to raise funds,” said Galle. “Non-profits have fewer staff members these days, so they have been calling upon us to supervise volunteers and serve as the project manager for various events.”
As for social events, “I think no matter what the economy, people will always find the inspiration to celebrate an event,” said McGowan.
So should you pursue more social events and non-profits and how do you get a larger piece of the pie? For Schinderle, she not only accepted social events, she embraced them and went through a complete re-branding process at the beginning of 2009 to reflect the type of events her business was attracting. The result was a complete transformation from corporate to social that brought her company “closer to the money.”
While a complete company face-lift might not be right for your company, sometimes just changing the way you do things can do the trick. Lisa Jennings, chief experience officer at Orlando, Fla.-based Wildly Different is working to make her corporate events “appear” non-profit.
“We now offer a philanthropic twist on many of our standard offerings and have developed entire new programs based on giving back,” said Jennings. “For instance, where we used to do a standard game show that perhaps incorporated training information for our clients, now we work in challenges that allow participants to win much needed items for a non-profit, which are donated after the event.”
Social events aren’t for everyone, and it’s likely they will never out-price the corporate market, but there may still be a place for them in your business. “Sometimes you have to do what you have so that you can do what you want to do,” said Hillary Fosdyck, owner and event designer of Destin, Fla.-based Monark Events.
So whether you’re looking to do more non-profit or social events, doing business in this economy will require a little extra ingenuity. Creating new business models, putting a new face on your company or simply doing more networking could be the key to your success. According to Michael Owen, CEO and managing partner of Nashville, Tenn.-based EventGenuity “Instead of a ‘new normal,’ we are operating as if there’s no more normal.” The simple fact is, the industry has changed. Only one question remains, how will you ensure your business stays on top?
Aubrey Blankenship is the associate editor for Event Solutions. Contact: email@example.com