The meeting and events industry is dictated by two market conditions: buyers’ markets and sellers’ markets. As planners, our daily behavior is affected by which market we’re experiencing; our ethics, standards of excellence and professionalism, however, should stay consistent in either situation.
Behave the same way in both markets as you negotiate contracts and hire vendors, and you will be rewarded tenfold the market shifts. Vendors you were fair to will return that courtesy.
So how do you know which market you’re operating in?
A buyer’s market includes great prices on hotel sleeping rooms, abundant concessions, and salespeople calling to take you to lunch or asking for your business over dinner and drinks. Contracts are easier to negotiate, and preferred dates often are available on short notice. This is a time of bliss, but it’s always temporary.
A seller’s market includes rising rates, tougher concessions negotiations, the need to give more than a year’s notice for preferred dates in first-tier cities and a noticeable lack in those nice meetings over lunch or drinks.
When I can’t get my choice of dates and see rates creeping upward, I know the market is becoming more robust and people are spending again. To me, this the logical way to measure the strength of the industry. For those of us who think logistically, it’s fascinating. For creative types, it’s a no-brainer.
The ability to identify new patterns of behavior or a new combination of actions is really not that hard if you hone into your creative energies. Most creative people are driven by the visual, so when I need to recharge, I change my perspective.
This usually means leaving my office for a field trip that includes window-shopping. I’m serious! There’s more behind the glass windows of major retailers than the latest trends. If you tune in, you’ll see indications of what’s to come by using the science of color.
Let’s roll back the tape three years. The economy was at its lowest point in decades, unemployment was high, the housing market had tanked. We were all worried about another Great Depression. My journal included these entries: “Today’s attention-getting colors are not the exaggerated bright, cheery hues of years gone by, but they’re also far from dark and depressing. The color palette is rich, intense and dynamic.”
In a bleak economy, we always surround ourselves with optimistic colors that are out of step with reality. The palette was turned down a notch, showing cautious optimism. It was a buyer’s market, but only if you had money to spend. During this time it was important that I echoed the climate of the economy. Going over the top with color and décor would have sent up red flags for attendees and created a sense of poor leadership. I made sure to keep things low-key in the right color tones, creating a conservative environment that nurtured positivity.
Fast-forward to my most recent trip the New York City, my favorite place to re-energize. Strolling down Madison Avenue and then heading downtown to Broadway, retail windows were alive with color and texture. Fabric colors have become so bright that they border on neon. Designers were taking risks again and moving forward rather than going retro and bold-colored, with patent leather and suede shoes in every fashion vignette.
These indicators make it easy to see that we’ve moved to a sellers’ market. You can be sure that I’ll be loading up my palette with energizing colors and selecting decorative accents that are bold and make a statement that mirrors today’s climate. I may even paint the town neon yellow!