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Venues of Excellence and Academic Venue Solutions embark on joint initiative

UK Consortia Venues of Excellence (VoE) and Academic Venue Solutions (AVS) have announced a new business collaboration for members, as venues in both memberships continue to reopen their businesses after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The events industry has been hugely impacted during the lockdown, and as restrictions slowly ease, both consortia recognised the challenges their members faces over the next 18 months to re-establish themselves within the hospitality sector as leading venues to host conferences, meetings and events.

To explore a potential partnership and benefits for members, a working group created a list of opportunities and developed an action plan.

Ivor Turner, Chair at VoE and Clare Forster, Chair of AVS shared the potential business collaboration with their respective members.

The key areas of collaboration are:

  • Sales Referral Scheme
  • Annual Conference
  • Client Events
  • External Exhibitions
  • Member Referrals

The group also consulted with several of their own member venues. Importantly, the partners maintain the individual identity and brand for both organisations is crucial; they are both unique.

However, it was felt that there were natural areas of collaboration that would allow for enhancing membership and increasing sales and marketing opportunities.

Turner explained: “We are a forward-thinking consortium and have over the past 18 months, aligned our consortium with likeminded associations. The transition out of this unprecedented situation will take time, so we are keen to position key steppingstones with new collaborations which will benefit our members at the same time continuing to drive VoE as a leading UK consortium. The hospitality industry is all about people and with this new partnership, we will be able to support with referrals, exhibitions and networking events with a qualitative group of venues, and in turn, they will be able to gain benefit financially through the opportunities we will create. Across both consortiums we have a team of experts ready to deliver some great opportunities to enable us to continue to reposition our venues within the hospitality sector.”

Throughout the pandemic, VoE and AVS have supported membership through webinars and virtual forums. They have engaged with key industry organisations to help their venues deal with the impact of COVID-19 and support members as they look to return to their operations.  However, like many organisations within the hospitality industry, both VoE and AVS want to position their consortia independently, maintain their core values and protect balance sheets to secure their futures.

Emphasising the benefits that the partnership will bring, Forster said: “Since our re-brand in 2018, AVS has continued to grow both its membership and standing in the sector. We are the only consortium in the UK dedicated to academic venues: supporting UK universities to deliver a varying host of events from small to large-scale.  The pandemic has highlighted our need to partner with organisations that enables us to maintain our unique brand whilst also bringing new benefits to our members – whether that be through networking or sales and marketing.  This collaboration with VoE is one of many ideas we are working on to help our member venues and to strengthen AVS for the future.”

Earlier in 2020, both organisations were due to host Venue Showcases in Birmingham and London, however had to be postponed due to COVID-19. These have now been rescheduled for Spring 2021 and will likely be the first events to showcase the new partnership, along with a planned joint annual conference in late 2021.

Mandy Jennings, Executive Director for VoE and Board Director for AVS, said: “Members from both consortiums are planning their returns in line with the UK government guidance and both consortiums have independently provided huge COVID-19 Resource Libraries and webinars to discuss key elements impacting their recovery.  The commitment the consortiums have to promote excellence and customer care has ensured venues have gained accreditations in line with preparation post COVID-19 which will provide confidence within the conference agency, corporate and association meeting and events planners when sourcing their future events. Having the opportunity to work with a combined portfolio of over 90 unique, specialist conference, training and academic venues means we can offer a vast range of solutions for clients and agency partners.”