How to change your venue strategy post-pandemic

As face-to-face events return (que the celebration), venues are seeing a surge in enquiries and bookings. So, do you have the right strategy to secure your perfect event venue in a post-Covid world? What impact has the pandemic had on venues, and how does your venue choice impact your live event, and in turn the user experience?

Here we breakdown the answers to your burning questions on all things venue strategy in six simple steps.

1. Know that your venue reflects your brand

Gone are the days of finding a venue that just ticks the boxes of space, location, and facilities. Of course those requirements are vital to your event and audience journey, but to really create a ‘brand experience’, every single touchpoint needs to reflect what you’re trying to achieve, and your event venue sets the tone on arrival.

We recently hosted the DS Automobiles DS 9 press launch and the venue – Le Manior aux Quat’Saisons – was a massive part of that experience by bringing to life the French heritage of the brand through world class, indulgent service. Le Manior effortlessly expressed the brand without the need for additional comms and background explanation.

Successfully align the venue to your event objectives and you’re halfway to driving the message home for your audience.

2. Sustainability is not optional

The world has woken up to the climate crisis, and the events industry is no exception. Venues are responding and updating their policies and procedures accordingly, but think about how your venue choice will impact the sustainability of your event.

Will the location allow your audience to limit their travel, or come via public transport? Does the venue offer more sustainable solutions when it comes to things like catering, power, and waste management? This obviously links back to the brand values too, and if you’re aiming to create a more sustainable event, your venue needs to align with this objective.

There are of course venues completely dedicated to providing a sustainable offering. Recently we hosted an event at Storey’s Field Centre in Cambridge, a sustainable venue dedicated to the local community. Consider these new innovative spaces for a more sustainable event that also challenges the status quo.

3. Plan for a conflicted audience

In England, all restrictions on capacities and gatherings imposed during the pandemic have been lifted, but many venues are adapting to this change slowly. Don’t automatically assume your audience will be comfortable with a pre-pandemic style experience and consider how your venue choice and layout will appear to those that may be nervous about attending an event.

Perhaps limit your capacity to 75%, stagger arrivals at registration to prevent bottle necks and queues, and use table plans to reduce people movement. Whatever tactics you use to put your audience at ease, you need to balance the local guidance with audience expectations.

4. Book early to avoid disappointment 

Plans are changing frequently, but opting for a last-minute booking strategy will limit your venue options considerably. Since the roadmap announcement in England, venues have seen a surge in bookings, and availability for the remainder of 2021 is extremely limited.

Many venues are already, or close to fully booked from September onwards, so you may need to consider adapting your plans to accommodate what’s available or widen your venue search area to maximise your chances of finding the right venue for your activity.

5.  Allow venues time to respond  

Whilst we’re talking about venue searching, expect this process to take longer right now. Venues still have staff on furlough, and many are working with a reduced staff. This means venues are taking longer to respond to enquiries, so factor this into your timeline when submitting briefs.

If you have specific questions, such as power availability for electric vehicle car charging, allow even more time. As more often than not, the sales department will have to gather more technical information from other teams.

6. Know your cancellation terms

Contingency planning has never been more important than right now. To ensure you are covered for every circumstance, review your venues cancellation terms and payment plans with a fine-tooth comb.

In what situations can you cancel or reschedule your planned event? How much notice do you have to give, and will it cost you anything? Could you use the venue to host a hybrid event instead?

Be realistic with payment plans too and don’t expect to be able to provide ultra-low deposits. Venues have seen a severe revenue reduction and will need cash flow to plan and prepare for your upcoming event.

 

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of things to consider when choosing your event venue. Of course, finding a venue that reflects your brand, is within budget, and meets your requirements has always been a challenge. But in this post-covid world, these new factors are something to add into the mix.

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