How to turn your home into a conference centre

by Rob Davidson

It was only a matter of time before the ‘sharing economy’ hit the meetings and events market.

The sharing economy is what you enter when you turn your physical assets (your house, your car, etc) into an income stream. The best-known examples are Airbnb, which lets you temporarily turn your home into a hotel and Park On My Drive which allows you to rent out your empty driveway or garage to motorists looking for parking facilities.

But there are about a hundred companies that have sprung up in the past couple of years, connecting people with something to rent out with people interested in hiring that something: anything from your pet to your wedding dress.

In Paris recently, I found out about SnapEvent (www.snapevent.fr), a fascinating start-up that put events planners in touch with people who have homes or parts of their homes (a terrace, garden, workshop, etc) they want to rent out as venues.

SnapEvent’s slogan is ‘Organise your event in three clicks’, and that’s exactly what you can do. Just enter the number of attendees (up to 50), the type of event, and the date, and the website brings up all the options open to you, from Fred’s studio flat to Natalie’s loft-style apartment. Then you click away at a selection of caterers proposed through the same website, et voilà you have your event.

If the photos are anything to go by, most of the venues look appealing in a typical French way. But what makes this system unique is that the venues on offer are owned by private individuals, not companies. So they have names such as ‘Anna’s apartment’, ‘Virginie’s loft’, ‘Pierre’s studio’, and so on.

Quality is assured by the founders of SnapEvent, Maud and Olivier, who visit every place that applies to be on their books. Prices are competitive, but the venues appeal because they are aligned to the trend towards planners seeking more non-traditional, unusual venues with individual character. The company is already making a huge impact on the Parisian meetings and events scene; and we’re not just talking about the not-for-profiit sector here.

Household names in France such as mobile phone company, SFR; the cosmetics firm, Sephora, the energy conglomerate, Total; the bank, Société Générale; and M6, the TV company have all found funky meetings venues through SnapEvent.

Could it happen here? You bet.

Maud and Olivier have already set their sights on the next city: London. So, excuse me while I go and de-clutter my spare bedroom.

Rob Davidson

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