As location becomes more and more strategic, finding the right one becomes more complex, too. “Quality” is now more important than the “cold data”. Oversimplifications are no longer acceptable.
1. Mission almost impossible
A short time ago we were asked to look for a venue for an event matching the following criteria: enough room for about 200 people, a large space for a plenary conference, ceiling at least 4 meters high, space for catering, 3 rooms for small meetings, parking, location near the city center but not too much. And, moreover, the location had to be “futuristic”, in line with the concept of the event that revolved around technological and digital innovation. Of course, high-tech furniture such as screens, LED displays, powerful Wi-Fi connection were requested. Finally, it should have had a stylish but minimal decor and possibly be low cost!
Requests like this one make more and more difficult the search for a suitable location for the events. If it is difficult even in Milan, where the number of locations for events has increased thanks to Expo, in other Italian cities the hunt for the right location can be a real, tough challenge.
2. Finding the right venue is a real job now
Being able to find the right venue for an event can often be the key for “winning the race” and, most importantly, for the success or the failure of the event itself. Until a few years ago the profession of the “location manager” was extremely common in the Anglo-Saxon world, but it was looked with disdain in Italy. Recently we have finally realized its importance in such a demanding market.
The time factor has become a crucial variable, too. In cities like London, Paris or New York the pressure on the locations is very strong and much higher than in our country. Today, there are agencies with professionals able to find the right location in no time, the so-called “venue searchers” that are constantly visiting and studying new locations available.
3. “Hot” Information
Even if the offer is increasingly wider, at the same time customers’ demands have become extremely complicated – if not downright bizarre. Thus the agencies need to be more and more sophisticated in order to match the feature of the location with the concept of the event. Expertise and experience are no longer enough. In addition to the “venue searchers”, there is a need of new digital support and promotion tools. (Rare are the quality ones, for example Italia Convention, for which I write).
These kind of portals are designed to register the so-called “hot characteristics/features”, the points of excellence distinguishing a venue from the others (i.e atmosphere, nature, food…) in addition to traditional data, such as numbers and geographical position. Since the role of the event in the marketing strategy has dramatically grown, the opportunity to make a search also by hot information is very useful to respond to these new demands.
4. Location: from container to content
So established, the role of the venue is very important. Companies are looking for quality, efficiency, ROI, but they need also a strong audience involvement able to make the event an unforgettable one.
Thus the location itself becomes meaningful: no longer just a container, but a part of the content in harmony with all the other elements.
5. The venue must have a soul. Look for it
More and more organizers are looking for “venues with a soul“: flexible to the needs and consistent with the concept. A place that can offer something special, also on a symbolic level. A meaningful place that can tell a story. An Exciting and engaging one.
That is why I advise the planners to spend a great deal of time looking for the perfect location. A wonderful location can make you win a race. To get such an astonishing result, many companies are willing to increase the budget at your disposal. Not to mention that an unforgettable location can influence the success of an event and, consequently, your own success. Locations such the abovementioned do exist, but they are not easy to be found.
Don’t rely on simplistic solutions, they never work well. Trivial requests get trivial answers, but that is not what we want.
6. New and unconventional locations
Today we are witnessing the rising of a new and interesting phenomenon: buildings that were before completely different such as factories, wineries, etc. are now used as meeting venues. Basic criteria like, for instance, ceilings at least 4 meters high, 1.5-2 square meters per participant, catering, production offices, and so on are all features now taken for granted. Thus, from now on, looking for the right location means also searching for a place that can pair with artistic, cultural, social or technological themes: all subjects that are often used as a common thread or conceptual areas for events and conventions.
Theaters, factories, museums and art galleries, or even private homes are all original locations that can be turned into a hot spot and inspire the “wow effect”.
7. The message is: don’t take it lightly
Until a few years ago, looking for the suitable location was a task that could be done relying solely on one’s own experience. This is no longer true: today the search of the right venue has become a difficult and strategic task. A task that requires competence, experience, constant updating and, most importantly, sensitivity towards the customers that are becoming more and more demanding day after day.
The key to success consists in improving your skills and at the same time increasing the value of the offer, even if this strategy doesn’t necessarily imply a proportional increase in the fee. But that’s another story.