How the experts find the best venue

What are the key influential factors that experts in venue finding consider when planning events? That was the question facing an expert agencies panel from the HBAA, at the recent UK Meetings Show.

The panel featured our MD, Julie Shorrock. Here’s her round-up of the panel’s advice for those who missed the popular session.

Know your client

This was a big point on which the whole panel agreed. Choosing the most appropriate location at the right budget is one thing. But finding the venue which best suits the client’s individual needs is another. You must listen to their needs. What are the client’s objectives? What do they need to achieve from the meeting or event?

Know the message

Who is the audience and the brand? And what message does the brand want to leave delegates with? A charity might not want a five-star property for an AGM, but they’d want to impress for a fund-raising event which needs to sell tickets.

Know the trends

Matching a venue to a client’s CSR policy remains a priority for many bookers and their organisations. And so, they keep a close eye on what’s changing in the wider world.

But it’s a venue-find agency’s job to know how those trends are being addressed by venues. For example, there are properties ditching single-use plastics, and some work locally to reduce food waste by supporting homeless charities.

Know the venues

Sounds daft when you’re talking about finding a venue, right? But the point the panel made here is that finding a venue online is one thing; knowing whether it’ll work for a specific client event is different.

If a client needs five breakout rooms but the venue has 4, is there an open area which would work? Or are layouts of the break-out rooms fixed – can any of the breakout rooms be split? And how will delegates move around the venue between conference sessions – does it flow? These are just some of the considerations that you can’t find in online listings.

Know the risks

There are sensible risk controls that expert agencies cover when they’re looking for the best venue. If a delegate fell ill, where’s the nearest hospital? And think cyber security – how secure is their Wi-Fi?

Know the process

Online client enquiry forms and booking tools work in some instances, especially for small meetings. For large or complex events, or those with a short lead time, the phone still rules.

But this means that it’s vital for the people at the other end of the phone (nudge, nudge venues – this is for you) know the venue USPs and the venue, inside out! And they need commercial awareness and authority to negotiate pre-contract terms.

Phones rule for agencies in a competitive situation when several a pitching for the same event. It can be a race for the first agent to secure the client’s chosen venue for the date required. So, here’s a big call-out for venues – your enquiry response times are critical.


Want to know how we can support you in finding the perfect venue for your next meeting or event - get in touch.

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