Angie Dewey, venue sourcing and partnership manager at Ashfield Meetings & Events, shares her reasons for choosing one type of venue over another
At Ashfield we always select venues that are fit for purpose, deliver against event objectives and are aligned to a client’s brand, paying close attention to any potential stakeholder perceptions. This could be a hotel, a conference centre or a unique venue.
Each type of venue has benefits as well as potential drawbacks and our venue selection process involves carefully considering all the first-hand insight we have from delivering events at different venues across the globe.
We like using hotels as we have built strong partnerships over 30 years with all the major chains and key independent properties.
The chains often provide us with a dedicated central reservations team that work with us to understand our business and our clients’ requirements and work as an extension of our team.
From a negotiation perspective we can look at our complete spend to gain the most cost-effective packages for our clients when combining meeting space, accommodation and food and beverage; 24-hour rates are a good example of this.
On the flipside, some hotels will be reluctant to offer solely meeting space for a large group as they will be missing out on accommodation and food and beverage spend. In these scenarios purpose-built conference centres and unique venues offer a great alternative to clients and can be a great way to add some wow to an event by aligning the theme, messaging or sector to the venue.
We have recently run sales conferences at Wembley and financial events in Banking Hall. Some of these venues would not normally be accessible to the general public so it adds a sense of exclusivity, which can help attract attendees and drive attendance.
We have noticed in recent years that unique venues have really upped their service offering to target the MICE market, recognising the extra potential revenue they can make. A great example of this is racecourses, which add a number of ancillary benefits to attendees such as great access and free parking.