Last week event agencies listed inflated prices and last-minute cancellations as some of their ‘bugbears’ when booking venues. This week C&IT has turned the tables, asking event space respresentatives for their advice on how agencies can improve relationships with venues.
Match the brief to the venue
According to Jennifer Connery, head of corporate events at Thorpe Park, choosing the right venue for a client is key. "Agencies need to ensure we’re right for their client. We want to provide the best event experience so it’s important that agencies really match us," she explained. She added that the more details the venue has about the client’s overall objectives, the more compelling the proposal will be.
Kathleen Warden, director of conference sales at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), said that venues want to deliver in the most creative way possible. While she explained that the Glasgow-based centre had mutually beneficial relationships with a wide range of agencies, she admitted it be can be challenging when there’s not enough information. "Opportunities can be missed if the initial response isn't as robust and exciting as we'd like it to be, simply because there's not enough information to go on."
"It’s great when agencies we’ve not worked with before pay us a visit and see for themselves what our facilities are and the team behind them," said Connery. "I appreciate everyone’s busy schedules, but it really opens up opportunities on both sides."
While venues acknowledge that time is tight, they say agencies should be willing to pick up the phone to iron out any burning issues, rather than sending emails. Oliver Hargreaves, deputy head of sales for business events at The Barbican, explained: "Venues, particularly those capable of holding several thousand people, such as ours, have a high volume of enquiries, and we always promise to communicate as quickly as possible and respond to every enquiry whilst also providing updates within a reasonable timeframe.
"Communication is imperative so if an agency has an urgent request – why not use that old fashioned speedy method – the telephone."
Manage client expectations
According to Hargreaves, it’s important for both agencies and venues to consider rates when booking events, despite external pressures. "Continually changing prices, be it increasing or decreasing, makes no sense and is commercially unsound," he explained. "Venues should charge what they are worth; heavy discounting will lead to unsustainable expectations and over-charging will only serve to drive people away."
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