Andrew White warns about promoting unusual venues into the corporate events market without the suppliers or service levels to support them.
The drive to maximise assets is potentially having a detrimental effect on the events industry. Fuelled by reports that brands want ‘unique and unusual’ there are more venues on offer than ever before. And each time a new one is launched it seems to get more daring and provocative; first it was the museum sector, then we moved to stadia and in the recent trade press we’ve seen visitor attractions and challenger dining halls launch as the ‘go to venues’.
A broader choice may seem great but with so many alternative venues opening their books it requires more ancillary suppliers to serve a demand that is getting wider by geo-location and more disparate in terms of accreditation, compliance and health and safety. In fact sweating assets may well lead to some sweaty palms as service levels diminish despite organiser and delegate expectations getting greater.
The museum sector has been judicious for years in its accreditation process as it protects heritage, collections and structures, as well as ensuring everyone in the supply chain complies with health and safety legislation and even sustainability policies. So is the glut of new ‘unique and unusual’ being discerning or is it simply a fast fix for the bottom line?
In creating a supplier list, ancillary partners want to see potential business. Equally, venues need to see demonstrable business introductions from them. But activating an event for 50 people in a venue 20 miles from the nearest town may be cost prohibitive even though the venue may look stunning. Cue the raft of new suppliers who may not be used to the needs of the discerning agent or corporate. While they may help with the expense side of things they may well create a greater margin for error and result in detrimental service levels at the expense of the event.
We visited a client the other day and they were ardent in the fact that they were wholly responsible for all events hosted and therefore all catering and service levels. I’m very used to historic buildings having a supplier list, but this really struck as I could fully comprehend how and why they would not want to damage their new-to-market brand and long-standing integrity by outsourcing to a long list of suppliers. They would control exacting service levels, food and drink and ultimately drive their own reputation rather than relying on the algebra of numerous suppliers.
If there is one thing that sweating your assets points to it’s the fact that service levels need to be consistent, outstanding and reflective of the premise of the building. Hotels have had star ratings for many years to indicate service and product offering. And while the unique and unusual may offer the bigger wow factor, such venues need to ensure they have the standard of performance to compete.
A marketing image of an iconic setting may well drive interest, however it’s service standards that drive us to come back and market the venue through word of mouth.
There are plenty of stately homes and unique venues that have created incredible event businesses. Plan and consider your partners and, rather like a relationship, be wary of who you let under your roof.
About the Author
Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications, a specialist in helping heritage venues and leisure attractions build awareness and market share in the business of events.