Louise Goalen is Chair of the HBAA and took up the role of Head of Venues at live event specialists Top Banana earlier this year.
Louise believes that trust and transparency are the cornerstones of great client/ agency / venue relationships and sees the role of venue finders as pivotal in this three-way connection.
I’m fanatical about transparency in our industry. We work on a commissionable model and share all the details of venue charges with our clients so they know exactly what our fees are. This kind of clarity is essential so that all parties trust one another and work together to deliver great events.
Trust is three-way. We must trust venues to deliver on their promises; Venues have to recognise that we understand our clients’ very specific needs (and wants!) … and clients have to trust both parties to do a good job so they can get on with the rest of their event planning!
It’s a no-brainer really!
So how should agencies add value?
Perhaps the single biggest benefit to clients of working with a specialist venue finding agency is the expertise they bring to contract negotiations.
There’s so much to consider around attrition rates, cancellation policies and service level agreements as well as the more obvious issue of cost.
Ensuring a venue is fit for purpose is complicated. Everything from the weighty issue of health & safety and technical details like wi-fi, through to the nitty gritty of signage, catering and storage for valuables on event day should all be considered by your venue finding partner. Every contingency should be covered, every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed.
There should be a clear and detailed plan in place covering all the minutiae, so that clients can relax and focus on content, delivery and delegate journey.
What’s in it for the venue?
For venues, there’s a lot to be said for working through specialist venue finding agencies.
Here at Top Banana, we have brilliant relationships with venues, built on mutual respect developed over time. There’s no short-cut to that kind of trust and no substitute for the smooth process it brings.
Not only do we make their job easier, through knowledgeable teams and a single point of contact for each event, but we always strive to build strong, long-term relationships. Knowing we may want to use a venue again and again means it’s important for us to have their trust so that next time, it’s a positive experience for everyone.
In summary, it’s essential that all parties work together. It has to be a team effort. It’s the only way forward and it’s also the best way to enjoy what we do too!
Louise Goalen has worked in the events industry since 1985.
After 11 years working in different hotels, she joined Ashfield Meetings & Events where she spent 20 years.
Her time spent on the venue side combines with more recent agency experience to bring a unique perspective to her role as Head of Venues at live event specialists, Top Banana.
As Chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), Louise is responsible for helping agencies and venues work together for the benefit of all parties. She sees building new partnerships and developing existing ones as an important element in her new role at Top Banana.
The HBAA has a membership of 223 venues & hotel chains and 83 agents.