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The Race for Space

The Race for Space

EMA and Hire Space share the findings from its recent corporate and venue panel discussion.

The Event Marketing Association (EMA) and Hire Space recently hosted a closed panel discussion titled ‘The Race for Space’, which explored how to maximise venue relationships and how to deliver event experiences post-pandemic.

Across the board, the panellists of corporates and venues have experienced unforeseen challenges during/emerging from the pandemic and Brexit.

1. Lack of staff and long response times

One key challenge for corporates is long response times from venues. A corporate panellist suggested this may be due to a lack of staff on the ground.

From a venue perspective, there has been an “exponential growth in bookings” due to the return of in-person events. “There simply isn't enough space to go around,” they said.

It goes further than just space, the venue panellist suggested. “To make space sellable, we need cleaners, F&B and reception staff, security and tech professionals. A high demand for manpower is a huge challenge for the venues, with many still short staffed and relying on agencies for temps.

"It’s also challenging to train temp staff to the required standard prior to an event, and the question of who should cover the cost of this training is contested on both sides,” the venue representative said.

2. Backlog of events and short lead times

Another challenge is the backlog of events due to restrictions lifting earlier this year.

“These events were predominantly weddings until three months ago, when the corporate market re-joined the scene in a big way,” a venue representative said.

According to the venues, corporates were previously booking with a year to 18-months lead time, whereas now they have a matter of weeks to plan and deliver their events.

“The usual conference peak months of September and October have been booked since last year, so there is a challenge in persuading clients to host their events outside these standard peak times,” added a venue.

When it comes to short lead times, there is a combination of factors to consider: “there is a pent-up demand due to the pandemic and eventprofs don't want to book for 2023 and 2024 too quickly.

"Nowadays, we are more cautious, and many corporates are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. This has resulted in a concern of not knowing what's around the corner, meaning there is a real caution in booking events too far out,” they said.

Commenting on the panel discussion, Edward Poland, co-founder, Hire Space, said: “Both our venue managers and corporates provided an invaluable insight into the challenges they are facing returning to live.

“Our panellists were optimistic that the race for space is a pandemic hangover that is temporary, and by communicating, maintaining honesty and trust, we can navigate these teething problems together.“