In November CN hosted a roundtable discussion at Farnborough International’s new conference centre on the subject of effective collaboration. A lively debate saw differing viewpoints put across and some horror stories told. Essentially, success boils down to clear communication, and a solid understanding of an event brief across all departments. So what grievances, and solutions, were put to the floor?
Tom Lambregts, marketing manager, Grass Roots (BCD M&E)
What do corporates want from venues?
Corporates expect venues to be efficient, quick to respond and accurate with their proposals. Once they’re contracted, venues need to prioritising service towards the client and ensuring everything that they offer is good value, not only in cost but also in delivery.
Claire Bastin, senior venues manager, Postal Museum
Are you satisfied that, generally, agencies are transparent enough?
I do think that agencies could be more transparent. Some are particularly good, and some aren’t good at all. Remarkably, some don’t even declare that they’re an agent, and some won’t divulge who the client it, even after conversion. There even seems to sometimes be a lack of trust between agent and venue.
Holly Glover, events manager, Inntel
Can you give us an example when a venue failed to meet a need?
We held an event an iconic London venue, which happened on the same day, and was nearby to, the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack. We had to implement our own disaster recovery plan, and relay to the client what was happening. Unfortunately, there was nothing from the venue to advise us what they were doing, or what measures they had in place. Terrorism is something we need to be a lot more aware of, and venues do have a duty of care to ensure clients, and indeed agencies, are familiar with safety protocols.
Noemi La Torre, project executive, TFI Group
What do you want from venues?
It’s always going to be a blend comprising facilities, connectivity, location and, transport links. On top of that, flexibility when working with the venue team to achieve results is crucial to help achieve the clients’ goals. We’re looking for a collaborative approach through shared objectives and through a consistent point of contact, and to maintain that relationship throughout the event management cycle.
Emily Morbey, MD, Miss London Concierge
How important is trust to the success of your events?
The relationship between me and my clients, with the event bookers, is second to none. Anyone can go online and Google things, but people need the experience and to know there is a trusting relationship with those bookers, but they need those relationships with those venues as well. There are some venues that very open to agency relationships, and there are some that will need a bit of time to get to know you and how you work. There are of course some venues that won’t work with agencies. Knowing that I can pass a client over to a venue that will manage their every need and take on that booking and brief, is fundamentally important.
Gabrielle Gant, community marketing manager, Linnworks
What can venues do to ensure that delegate needs are met when it comes to catering?
This is an issue most pressing for venues that use in-house catering, who don’t always provide an event planner to bring in a suitable catering supplier. It’s crucial that venues cater for vegan, gluten free, and religious diets. My message would be to design packages around different needs and consider what delegates may be looking for, without pushing these options back as a second option. Venues must be prepared.
Dominic Bemrose, business development director, The Turner Agency
At the venue finding level, what are the most important things an agency is going to be looking for in a venue?
It depends on which industry sector you’re looking for, but certainly top of the list in the pharma and healthcare sectors is compliance. Does it match the client’s compliance regulations, does it match the industry regulations? And then does the venue actually understand compliance, and are you going to be facing an uphill battle to try and describe it? One of the important things that we’re finding more and more is, when venues package things up, that they break it down properly. We need to be able to report the food and beverage spend etc as part of the transfer value. Of course, in a lot of sectors it’s a simple as does it meet the brief of the client.
Martin Richardson, co-founder, Ten Thousand Hours
Can you articulate the importance of collaboration?
For me it’s all about informed conversations. When an agency talks to their client to understand what they want, or indeed what they need, they have to relay that clearly to the venue. As an example, once you’ve outlined the practical information, such as approximate numbers, size of room and so on, you must tell the venue what it is the client is trying to achieve. And then, see if you can solicit any creative input from the venue, which will allow you to put together your proposal in a more meaningful way. Ultimately, we’re all trying to achieve the goal of the client, so being open and sharing as much information as you can at the beginning, venues and agencies working collaboratively is going to be in everyone’s interests.
Carlo Zoccali, venue account manager, Farnborough International
What information do agencies want from you to provide a better client experience?
I think transparency is the big thing here. Being smarter with the included elements and being more detailed with as much as possible, whether that’s Wi-Fi and specifying what the megabyte upload and download rates are for example. Agencies, and indeed clients, need to know exactly what is included. It’s clear that it’s also important that everyone understands the Dos and Don’ts with what can happen at a venue. The openness and the sharing of information is clearly the most important thing for all parties to understand.