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Venues, agencies and clients: working through the blurred lines

Louise Goalen, director of venues at Top Banana, summaries the changes she has experienced in the venue industry 


Traditionally the responsibilities of clients, agencies and venues were clearly defined; clients provided the brief, agencies organised the meeting or event and the venue would provide the space and catering. However, as our fast-paced industry continues to adapt and change, the responsibility lines are blurring the way we work together.

Louise Goalen, director of venues at Top Banana, a creative communications agency, summaries the changes she has experienced and what she thinks 2020 will bring, looking at these differences from a client, venue and agency perspective.

louise goalen

So, why is the venue becoming so much more involved in the planning?
It’s all about the experience. The delegates on the day are looking for a wow moment the second they arrive and that starts with the venue. For most of the clients we deal with, the audience are practiced in conferences, meetings and events – meaning there’s already a level of expectation from them; as they’ve been there, seen this and done that 100 times before. They need something to make them sit up and listen from the get-go and it’s all about immersing your audience in the brand and message across all touch points and the venue can really help make this happen. How we are engaging with people is changing and clients know that. They want the venue to be innovative, forward thinking and able to provide something unique to them as a company. Agencies can dress and transform spaces no problem – but the feel of a space and those extra little touches, that’s all down to the venue.

Are you finding that agencies and clients are demanding more from the venues they work with?
We’re definitely asking more from venues than ever before, because they’re no longer just providing a room and catering. Clients and agencies like ourselves want to know what else the venue can give as venues are becoming an extension of the client and need to offer that Instagram moment and wow experience for delegates. It’s a collaboration and a partnership and it needs to feel like everything is interconnected, from the messaging of the event right down to the catering – a thread that links it all together is key and it’s something we expect to be of even bigger importance in 2020.    

So, as an agency that specialises in events and venue sourcing, what has changed the most in terms of our relationship with venues? 
The main thing that we’ve seen as a business in 2019, is the venue having a lot more involvement in the brief and client meetings from the start – as more than ever we need to make sure they are up to speed on what we are trying to achieve from the event and not just in terms of logistics. In our venues team, our dedicated venue sourcing account managers for client projects ensure there is a specific focus on the venue throughout. This brings heaps of benefits as it means come event day, we’ve got a venues specialist on site, managing communication directly with the venue’s ops team. It provides us with greater insight into the event and organisation, whilst also giving the client confidence that we’re on hand to help. This knowledge is invaluable to us and means that year after year we can better the experience for the client and we’ve also got far better knowledge of the venue for future events.

What do you think the future of how agencies, venues and clients work together will look like?
In 2020, agencies, venues and clients are going to be closer than ever. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal and forming a strong relationship and seeing one another as extensions of our own teams means we’re going to have a better end result. Communication is key and bringing everyone together from the beginning and working as one right to the end is how we’re going to succeed. We all still have our roles to play however collaborating even closer we can ensure the client creates the WOW memories!