Cancellations and poor communication top list of agency 'bugbears' when booking venues

Last-minute cancellations, inflated prices and poor communication are among the main challenges for agencies when booking venues, C&IT can reveal.

Cancellation and cost

"We’ve had a major venue pull the rug from under our feet on one of our biggest events of the year, while a five-star venue outside of London left us high and dry with no apology or explanation," said Charlotte Wilson, managing director of Pure Events. She added that she felt some venues had been ‘milking’ the boost to the economy, inflating the prices on services. "We used one last year that tried to double its rates for the exact same event this year. How is this monitored and regulated? It has been one of our noticeable challenges." 

Detail

For many agencies, it’s the venue search process that throws up the most issues. "When you’re researching a venue it can sometimes be hard to find accurate floorplans, which is very frustrating," explained Phil Whetter, director of SomeBrightSpark. "Quite often you find venues will be missing certain key things, such as fire exits and pillars, which are outlined on the original plan." He added that high-quality images are crucial to venue success, and that many event spaces are failing to provide these from the outset.

Communication

Nikki Groves, venue finding manager at AOK Events, said lack of communication from event spaces can be a challenge. "I try to phone venues but sometimes I only have time to send an email with a brief. Quite often we don’t get a response. It’d be nice to get some sort of acknowledgment to know the venue is actually working on the brief." She added that ‘information’ was the key to success. "Sometimes we send hefty briefs asking for lots of details, and we only get about half the information back. It’s frustrating, as it means I have to chase and chase."

Reiterating the issue of communication, Nick Terry, managing director at Top Banana, said that venues don’t always fully understand the brief. "Getting the venue on the same page as the client and understanding the event objectives can be tricky. You also find that there can be some disparity between the venue’s perception of value versus the client’s perception of value, compared to the wider market." 

According to Emily Giola, operations director at AddingValue, language barriers can also be a problem. "At UK venues we've had issues with the staff not having sufficient mastery of English. They might be able to handle the basics, but not deal with more complex business needs."

Lack of solutions

"Venues find it easy to say 'no', without exploring other options," said Giola. For example, if one room has been booked, they may not consider the possibility of switching rooms around or opening an additional space. "There's too much 'can't' and not enough solutions," she added. 

To hear the craziest requests that venues get from clients, check out our video here.

More: 

Agency size doesn't matter, say corporate heads

ROO comes before ROI, say event planners

State of the Industry 2015: Top 5 agency challenges

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State of the Industry Report 2015

C&IT's definitive report on the key trends and challenges facing the UK events industry in 2015 and beyond.


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