(As published in the Fall 2012 issue of Colorado Meetings & Events Magazine)
Although many businesses in our industry have struggled through the past few years of economic downturn, I believe some good practices have emerged as well. For example, many companies have reevaluated who they are, what they want to provide in the future, and how they want to be perceived in the marketplace. Other companies have reduced or eliminated debt, allowing them to make a fresh start.
Some companies have scaled back staff levels, which can be viewed by some as a negative. However, these event professionals have created a very profitable role for themselves as independent contractors. This is the best trend to happen to the event industry in a long time!
Experienced event planners, A/V technicians, salespeople, caterers and designers were the first to lose their higher paying jobs when economic cutbacks hit our industry. Many of these people have 12 to 30 years experience-so when there were no jobs to replace the ones they’d lost, they took matters into their own hands and became independent contractors providing their expertise to many companies nationwide.
My company has greatly benefited from this new trend. Most of our firm’s work is international and requires a lot of onsite management and travel for high-end clients, so we really need event professionals with years of experience. As a small business, I found it difficult to afford the large salaries required to attract this caliber of planner. Now, I am grateful to work every week with planners I could not have hired prior to the economic downturn.
Everyone wins! The contractors set their pay scale, assist many companies, pick and choose the projects they work on and make more money than they did being employed by one company. Event companies like mine are afforded the opportunity to work with some of the best planners in the business for a fraction of the cost of hiring full time, we choose the contractor that is a match for a specific client and we make more profit while ensuring the client is happy.
Kevin Kowalczyk owns Giant Steps Consulting, a Denver-based company he started three years ago after experiencing a layoff. Forté Events hires Kevin for onsite event delivery worldwide, pre-planning and monthly social media marketing. He offers similar support to many companies and has seen an increase in demand for the type of services Giant Steps offers.
“I love the flexibility and profitability I’ve experienced since becoming a contractor. I have had a lot more opportunities for growth in the industry since starting my company and feel I have a higher quality of life and a better work/life balance,” he says. “I am able to be successful by maintaining closer relationships with many event professionals…something I could not have done while working full-time for one company.”
Forté Events hires six contractors regularly and will continue this practice in the long term. While our industry finds new ways to compete, stay profitable and rebuild during an ever changing economic landscape, I’m grateful for independent contractors!
– Tami Forero
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Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporate, non-profit, and social events worldwide. This award winning team also designs custom, experiential learning programs and corporate training sessions.
CEO of Forté Events, Tami Forero is a veteran of the special event industry having planned hundreds of strategic corporate, social and non-profit events. She’s a sought after consultant and speaker with topics both on the event industry and business skills.