How fondly I remember the good old days of venue sourcing, when I first started out in the industry some ** years ago (never ask a lady her age!!), where clients would give you two whole weeks to find a venue for their next event happening in 12 to 18 months’ time. Venues would fawn over you to get the business in the good books of their revenue managers. Life was at a slower pace and I wasn’t drowning in emails, Skypes, and torn between answering my office phone or the mobile. You knew a client’s annual event itinerary and could accurately predict when a venue request would hit your desk. Ahh, “sigh” and “smile” at the memory!
Maybe I’m just remembering the past with a rose-tinted glow, but recent years have been the polar opposite. I shall name no names, but I recently booked a 24-day tenancy for 1000 people three weeks before the event was due to take place! Talk about panic stations, I think we must have booked the last venue in the UK that still had availability at such short notice. The requests are flying in thick and fast, with shorter and shorter lead times.
Clients expect to find a venue that ticks all their requirements. For instance, a 500 cabaret, with set and back projection, as well as 500 bedrooms for one night, mid-week in London – yes, all the bedrooms have to be onsite, and you have a budget of £150 a head.
Hello people! This is not Vegas; there aren’t that many hotels in London that could accommodate an event of that size if your event is in two months’ time. Did anyone hear my head explode? Some clients really do expect you to pull a miracle out of the bag. I’m good at my job, but I can’t build a venue in three weeks.
Is the tide turning though? Gone are the days when you could get a last-minute deal for a 300+ cabaret style in London. People are thinking ahead again, like they used to, in the “good old days”! Would someone please tell my clients? The expectations are still there, but not the space. So who are these mysterious clients, who have their event plans for the next three years all booked and arranged? Could someone give them my number please?
My heart sinks when a tender comes in, because you know it will take weeks for a decision and there is no way a hotel will hold for that long – they have second and third options on hold behind you, all chomping at the bit. My clients are fighting over the same elusive event space and the venues won’t do the deals, because they know the next desperate booker is probably on hold with their own unrealistic requests.
I love my job and I love finding that gem of a venue that ticks every box on your wish list, but I need time and I’m not talking days or weeks. So help me to help you: give me the time I need and I’ll exceed your expectations with the best possible option at the most phenomenal rate. As long as you’re not asking me to find a treehouse for 600 people… now, that’s a whole other rant!
Emma Kennard – venuepot