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The benefits of membership consortiums in challenging industry times

Mandy Jennings, executive director, Venues of Excellence reveals how it has supported its member venues and associated industry partners during Covid-19.

How did Venues of Excellence react with a plan for members as we went into the pandemic?

The board and team of Venues of Excellence acted quickly to agree a plan to help members through a very unusual and difficult period. We have and continue to be in constant communication, offering support and guidance and providing our members with a number of initiatives.

How do you feel you have supported venues during the lockdown?

Our membership year runs from June to May, so we created a new financial membership package to help with fees, offering a membership discount and optional payment plans.

We created a weekly online communication plan, inviting industry specialists to share best practice and innovations; these have now become our weekly ‘Zoom to BOOM’ sessions with as many as 60 delegates online.

The Venues of Excellence team have been in constant communication with the members to understand who is working and who is on furlough so we can update the people who are available.

We are now working with venues to keep updated on planned reopening and contacts for enquiries. We had our first online Members Forum which is normally 1.5 days each quarter and we put this into a two hour Zoom session.

Our next Members Forum is planned for 18 June, which will discuss venues reopening. Guest speakers will include Gavin Percy representing Quality in Tourism discussing the ‘Safe, Clean and Legal Accreditation’, alongside Louisa Watson, MD Wyboston Lakes Resort, one of our member venues sharing the ‘You, Me & Trust Campaign’ it has launched into the events industry.

Why did VoE create the Commitment Pledge Response to Covid-19 and what does it mean to the customer and member?

VoE membership criteria expresses ‘excellence’ and we have five Quality Pledges that reflect our membership objectives. It seemed a natural development of our Quality Pledges to introduce our Commitment Pledge to support our members by announcing the pledge to the industry, which will be used as part of the future criteria when we have new member requests.

To complement our pledge, we have within our Members Area of the website, our Covid-19 Resource Library with a plethora of useful information from venues and industry best practice around the events industry and the pandemic.

Why is the Covid-19 Resource Library crucial to member venues?

It gives members the opportunity to share best practice and support independent venues. We enable collaboration, promote excellence, and to have a central point of reference.

How will VoE support members through proactive activities as venues begin to reopen in July?

We have a number of initiatives in place including online presentations to clients and agencies, working with industry partners as a collective, helping with plans for future exhibitions, opening up new marketing opportunities, ensuring the venues have the opportunity to share new capacities, safety and security measures and facilities on virtual tours and presentations.

What key things should venues look for from consortiums at this time and why are you offering the discount to members and potential new members?

When independent venues are looking to join a consortium, my advice is that they need to understand why they want to join a consortium and what are the key objectives they have from the membership. Partnering with the right consortium is key to any business growth and future success.

Since our rebrand to Venues of Excellence in 2016, we have positioned the consortium at the forefront of conference and event planners. Venues of Excellence is recognised as the UK’s largest sales and marketing consortium of specialist conference, meeting and training venues. We are able to offer considerable benefits to independent venues, from national sales and marketing activity to a collective negotiating power with key industry suppliers.

One of our key initiatives on the back of our #strongertogether campaign is to offer an ‘Exceptional Membership Offer’ to independent venues looking to join a consortium to gain all the benefits of VoE Membership. Supporting conference and event led venues, we are offering a 15% discount for their first year’s membership for venues looking to join a proactive a sales and marketing consortium as we return to business.

We hope that many venues looking for support will see this as a great way to help relaunch themselves returning to business post Covid-19.