There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t receive something about a venue … be it a new one opening, an established one reopening after refurbishment or new rooms being made available in an already existing venue. Then there are special invitations to see a venue – a lunch or a reception – special delegate prices on offer, “amazing” packages for the Christmas season to entice you!. The selection and variety are endless. Believe me, whether it is for a charity event or a corporate function, it is an organiser’s market right now. There is a lot to choose from.
Not long ago I had an occasion to sit in with a focus group made up entirely of event organisers. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss exactly what an organiser looks for when selecting a venue. Obviously cost is a major factor with any selection … value for money so to speak. However the venue itself is also key. There is a shift away from hotels to museums, livery halls, unique spaces and even year-round marquees. ‘Unusual’ has become much more important.
What is the venue’s initial response to the organiser? Is the person at the other end of the phone courteous and efficient? Was there a timely response to an email, an appointment quickly made for a visit to the venue? And what of the visit? Was the venue’s representative knowledgeable, efficient and helpful? Was there follow up after the visit?
These are just a few of the points that were discussed.
Among other things I learned that organisers want to work with the same person from the very beginning to the very end. The members of the focus group made it very clear that they do not like to be passed from one person to another during the course of the event. There needs to be a single key contact. Another issue that irritates is ‘hidden costs’…. extras for a power point for example or for an additional hour of set up time. All costs must be clearly set out in the very beginning.
One point that became very clear to me is that an organiser’s connection with the venue is key. To a person, members of the group all agreed that there must be a mutual, quality working relationship. It is up to the venue to develop that relationship.
There are a lot of venues to choose from right now. Developing that quality relationship could be the key to securing and keeping clients.