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    How To: Get the most out of a venue

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    A good venue team will act as memory makers – providing far more than just space to host an event, writes Mandy Jennings (pictured), Executive Director of Venues of Excellence...

    Once upon a time, if you were tasked with booking a venue you’d do just that – hire the space and tick the boxes when it came to add-ons, such as food, drinks and stationary.

    Fast-forward to 2019 however, and the meetings and events industry now operates very differently. 

    A great venue should no longer just provide the space – it should provide the magic, too, with increasingly innovative ways to surprise and delight delegates emerging in recent years. 

    From assault courses to having delegates plant trees, we see some great examples of immersive experiences across our portfolio of venues, all of which make for an event with the wow factor. 

    So how can you get the most out of your venue? What’s the secret to sparking creativity that leaves a positive lasting impression on your guests? 

    Firstly, you need to seek out a venue that truly values guest experience, and independent venues are usually a great place to start. 

    Without the restrictions of a big brand name and hefty overheads, independent venues can often be more flexible and attentive, willing to work collaboratively with you to bring your ideas to life. 

    Secondly, compile a thorough, creative brief and regardless of budget, think big. 

    Start out by listing your priorities: What matters most at this event? Is it immersing your guests in an experience? Perhaps it’s providing a memorable menu of delicious food and drink?

    Provide the venue with examples of the type of event you’re after – from menu options through to décor – and don’t be afraid to look further afield for inspiration.

    Share visuals of how you picture the event looking and feeling and build these expectations into your brief, before allowing your venue to tailor your ideas to a set budget and timescales. 

    Equally, ask the venue for examples of other events they’ve delivered at the site – whether they’re similar in style or tone to your event, or not. One person’s wedding breakfast could spark an idea for your corporate ball!

    And, ask about the venue’s suppliers, too. Most good venues will have a tried and tested list of contacts that they can call on to bring events to life, be it through food, décor or entertainment. 

    It’s also important to communicate the content of your event to the venue, along with the wider values of the business you’re working with.  

    Sustainability is an obvious choice that sits high on almost every business’s agenda at present. From ensuring the event is plastic-free through to giving delegates the chance to play a part in helping the environment through an activity or takeaway gift, there are plenty of ways to combine your company’s responsibilities with creativity.

    It’s all about collaboration. Work with your venue and make it clear what you’re after – an experience, not just a run-of-the-mill event. 

    They’ll be only too happy to help. 

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    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien