How did the event industry perform in 2014 compared to 2013? What were the big developments and issues this past year for event professionals? Our annual State of the Event Industry survey has provided some great insights into these questions and more, so let’s take a look at the 5 most striking findings from this year’s event industry survey …
Note: Our pool of respondents included 418 professional event planners, corporate event mangers, event venues and non-profit organizations, who provided us with their input, and we thank them for their participation in our inaugural events industry study.
Finding #1 – Event revenues grew across all events in 2014.
The first big event industry statistic from our survey was that event professionals said that their revenues grew across all kinds of events – including conferences, meetings and fundraisers as well as social events like weddings and parties. Of all the respondents, 59% said that their revenues in 2014 were higher than 2013, and another 32% reported that revenues were about the same as last year.
All in all, 2014 was another growth year for events, and many of the event professionals we talked to are already very optimistic about 2015 just by looking at their current 2015 bookings.
Another shocking fact … most event industry professionals are still using 20th century tools to manage their 21st century events.
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Finding #2 – Event attendance also grew in 2014.
Not only were event professionals making more revenues from their events this year, but more guests and attendees were coming to their events, too. 55% of the respondents reported increased attendance at their 2014 events, and another 36% said attendance at their events was about the same as in 2013.
Finding #3 – Higher food-and-beverage (F&B) and venue rates are driving event costs up.
As event industry stats go, this one wasn’t too surprising. Event professionals have been reporting higher F&B and venues costs in various event industry reports over the last few years. In our survey, 70% of respondents said that F&B costs increased over the last 12 months, and another 57% reported that venue rates have increased during that time span … and these higher costs are pushing up the overall price tag for most events.
Finding #4 – The average event lead time in 2014 was 6.7 months.
This one shocked us a bit because it seems so short.
Granted, this is for all types of events across the board, and smaller parties and weddings don’t often require as much prep time as larger conferences or meetings (although that isn’t always the case).
However, even many meeting planners were citing event lead times as short as 6-10 months. And when asked about the shortest lead time they were given in 2014, 58% of our respondents said that their shortest lead time in 2014 was less than 30 days. Ouch.
What this points to is that event clients are waiting until the last minute to sign off on a final budget for an event (residual behavior from the belt-tightening practices of the Recession). Shorter lead times generally mean clients and event professionals have fewer (and often more expensive) options, but we have found that many planners are working with their venue, catering, decor and other vendors to expedite the proposal processes. In addition, event pros are getting more creative with tighter deadlines – like finding alternative venues, scheduling events on traditionally less busy days and hours, and choosing from pre-packaged deals offered by vendors (BTW – this is one key way in which vendors are accommodating shorter lead times on their end).
Finding #5 – Finding competent event staff is getting harder and harder.
Event planning businesses, event venues and caterers have been hinting to us over the last few years that it has become much harder to find qualified candidates for entry-level positions. And our recent findings back this up.
54% of respondents said that finding and hiring competent staff was as difficult in 2014 as it was in 2013, and 33% said it has become even more difficult in 2014.
This stat seems incongruous with current unemployment numbers, especially among twentysomethings who have been beaten up jobwise over the last several years due to a stagnant economy. However, as one event industry pro told us, finding people for open positions is one thing … finding a qualified person who is eager to learn about the industry and take on more responsibility is quite another.
In early 2015, we will be releasing more event industry statistics on the outlook for the new year, so stay tuned for more.