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anita lowe

Venues and Events International says venue contracts vital to return of live events

Venues and Events International has said around half of their bookings in Q3 and Q4 are split between online and live events, with enquiries for larger events starting to pick up, but that venue contracts will be an important part of the return to live.

The Swindon-based agency has said it received an enquiry for a one-day conference for up to 1,500 delegates in December, and that work is underway for a European roadshow in September.

Anita Lowe (pictured), the agency’s CEO said that online events still make up the majority of the work in the first half of the year. “We are looking at roughly 50% virtual [online] which covers Q1 and Q2 of 2021, but the remaining is split between live and hybrid for Q3 and Q4,” she told Conference News. “For example, we are in the process of planning UK roadshows in October as a live event, but the client has requested a hybrid option as a backup.”

Lowe added that all sectors her agency is working with want to plan for live events, but only when safe to do so. “A lot of the enquiries we are currently working through for live events are coming from construction, financial, automotive and defence,” she said. “These are generally enquiries for internal conferences and recognition awards which are easier to postpone or cancel because they are with their own employees.

“There is certainly more caution around external events as these are much more challenging to rearrange at short notice.”

Venue contracts

Lowe said that clients are enquiring for live events from June onwards, but many of these are looking for a hybrid fallback option. She also noted that keen attention was being paid to contracts as the risk to events could endure for time to come.

“This week we’ve received a fantastic enquiry for a one-day conference in December for 800-1,500 delegates. We’re working on the brief but on the reassurance that before committing with any venues, that their contract terms are flexible,” she said. “This is becoming more common now within contract negotiations that we’re supporting clients with, to ensure the flexibility is there. It gives the client the reassurance to go ahead and book, knowing they can postpone or cancel should the requirement come.”

Lowe added: “There is certainly an appetite for live events, but with nervousness around venue flexibility after contracts are signed as there’s still so much uncertainty around future government guidelines. Clients are coming to us for guidance for the safe delivery of their events but with an increased requirement for support on risk assessments.”

Reassuring clients

Lowe said that the need to reassure clients has been an important part of the Venue and Events International's work since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, as they too have been searching for answers.

“One thing I am particularly positive about is our continued engagement with our clients during this uncertain time,” said Lowe. “We have been proactive during the lockdown to frequently share our knowledge with clients to give them the reassurance that they have us to support. They shouldn’t feel nervous about going back into a world of uncertainty around live events because we’ve kept up with the continuous engagement and advice on how to manage live events safely in a new environment.

“This assurance is backed up by the policies and procedures certain hotel groups have put in place and the information they’re sharing which will help us support our clients moving forward. We hope more hotels in the coming weeks and months will be at an opportunity to share more information with us that we can confidently relay back to our clients.”

Several other agencies, including Brands at WorkStrata Creative Communications, Oddity EventsTop Banana and DRPG have all reported an increase in live experiences towards the end of 2021.