On 7th September 2022, Hire Space ran a ‘Venue Talk’ event at the stunning Grade II listed 41 Portland Place. The event brought together a community of over 50 venue managers across London to explore event booking trends, sustainability in venues, and provide insights into working effectively with corporate planners.
The final panel discussion of the day explored how venues and corporate event planners can work more effectively alongside each other. Our panel consisted of Anna Fox, former Head of Events at Liberty Global, Victoria Potter, Global Head of Events at Permira, and Ed Poland, Co-Founder of Hire Space, moderating. Read on for our key takeaways below.
Short lead times create more uncertainty
With the landscape of events still somewhat uncertain, lead times for events, and cancellations, are shorter than ever at the moment. Organisers want to have the assurance that they will be able to secure a venue, and so often hold 4 or 5 until they're ready to dedicate to one, almost in a panic-buying fashion.
This causes an issue for other organisers because they then may struggle to find a venue, and companies are reluctant to free up the spaces they're holding until the last minute, which may then be too late for others to use the spaces. This also causes an issue for venues because they may then get no business at all for those held dates. This creates a pinch point where organisers can't find the space that they need and venues lose out on revenue, making this a really difficult situation for everyone.
So what's causing these short lead times?
There was a lot of uncertainty and nervousness during Covid, which meant a lot of companies had to pivot and adapt to the situations they found themselves in. These days, many organisers want to run in-person or at least hybrid events, and are shying away from virtual events. So perhaps organisers who got used to running virtual events know that they have virtual as a backup option, and as a result, they feel they can take more risks with venues and in-person planning.
Event organisers' jobs are harder
There are a few reasons why this is the case. Firstly, due to rising costs, events are more expensive to run but budgets are the same (if not smaller). This poses challenges to running in-person or hybrid events with specific AV requirements, as AV is not cheap.
Secondly, as a society we are still living with Covid, so having to think about testing, quarantine, safety at the event etc, is still an omnipresent concern.
Thirdly, a lack of availability at venues has made organisers' lives more difficult and has resulted in some organisers having to sacrifice some priorities: some have found they are more inclined to find a venue that can do the dates and format of the event than focus on what their eco credentials are. Meanwhile, other organisers still insist on sustainable venues even if that makes sourcing more challenging.
Staff shortages pose a problem to events
During Covid, a lot of people changed careers. This means that there are now less people on the ground to deliver events, but also that they've taken their in-depth expertise and knowledge with them, meaning the staff that organisers can pull together (if they can find anyone at all thanks to the short lead times) may not be experienced enough.
Some venues are so stretched other departments have had to pitch in to help, such as the sales team pouring wine at one of Anna's recent events because there was no one else to do it. It's a good reminder for us all to be kind to one another - event managers want to make their events as smooth as possible and venues are overstretched, so it's important to work together for the same end results. The events industry is fantastic at using creativity to solve problems, so work together and think outside the box to solve the challenge in front of you.
Overcommunicate, be transparent with one another, and be kind; everyone is doing their best.
Venues must adapt to their current climate
With so much competition these days, venues need to be able to stand out to organisers and show that they're the best choice for an event. Older venues need to focus on maintaining upkeep of their spaces and equipment, as ageing decor or shabby paintwork is a sure-fire way to put an organiser off. Keep an eye on the external and internal property and fix any scratches and dents, replace furniture, and generally update the interior design every few years or so, even if that's just a lick of paint.
It's also important for venues to keep an eye on similar venues and see how they have refurbished their spaces, what they've replaced, what they've updated etc. Virtual tours are a good idea, but nothing will replace seeing a venue in person and many organisers prefer this, so it's paramount for venues to keep up their standards and make it simple for organisers to come down to see the spaces.
Venues must also ensure that their in-house AV and hybrid offering is up to standard and that it can accommodate the content that organisers need to deliver. But most importantly of all, venues have to do their utmost to become more sustainable. We've written a whole guide on venue sustainability, so venues should scrub up on their awareness to ensure their offering is as eco-friendly as possible.
Keeping on top of the industry
As much as venues need to keep up, it's essential that everyone in the events industry takes the time to keep themselves up to date with trends, news and challenges. Attend industry events, read industry press, share knowledge with peers and keep up to date with new openings.
Junior members of the industry should shadow more senior event organisers so that they can ask them questions all about their role and day-to-day tasks: practical learning will sink in much quicker and shape a more experienced eventprof in the long run who is well equipped to deal with the challenges we will face going into 2023.
For more insights into the world of event planning, head to the Hire Space blog. If you need help with planning your event, get in touch below, or check out our venue database to find your dream backdrop.