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‘Time for a united approach’ says Venue Directory MD

Michael Begley, managing director of the Venue Directory suggests now is not a time for venues to be in competition, but instead should be collaborating.

Safe events plans should not be an area of competition between venues; this is time for a united approach to restore attendee confidence. 

This is a time for everyone in the meetings and events market to take a united approach to marketing the industry as there has to be one vital objective for all of us; to restore attendee confidence in taking part in live events without worrying for their safety.

As an independent business operator working with and talking with hundreds of venues and most agencies in the sector as we provide the largest data centre of venue information to the UK MICE industry, I’m well placed to stand back as an objective observer of the mood of the industry.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been putting together our ‘Safe Meetings’ database which now brings together the safe events information of more than 15,000 hotels, conference centres and venues of all types and makes it easy for event planners to find safe venues. It’s been welcomed and is in use right across the industry.

During their discussions, my team have noticed a common view and purpose among everyone they speak to. They tell us – ‘we must all do everything to reassure everyone that can attend face-to-face events with confidence.’

It’s very encouraging to hear such unity, and now that we have guidelines and one metre plus social distancing, we can move forward when the sector is allowed to open for business. But we must be wary.

With so many venues keen to win as many as possible of a much small number of coming events, there is a danger that some will look for every possible competitive point of difference. While that is totally understandable, I strongly believe that a venue’s Safe Meeting plans should not become an area for competitive advantage for a venue. It is detrimental to the image and spirit of community that has developed in the market and which needs to continue.

To demonstrate our commitment to this and to establish the principle, we are making the data on our Safe Meetings database free to everyone including competing websites through our existing distribution channels to all our current clients and to all industry partners who require this information.

We want to act as a catalyst for recovery and to make it easy for meeting planners to source venues that are suitable and ready to receive meeting delegates, there is an icon on search results and within a venue profile to demonstrate that the venue has a policy in place.

It’s great to see that so many venues are not only well prepared but also going well ‘above and beyond’ in what they are doing within their Safe Meetings policies, which is why we felt the need to allow venues to highlight what they are doing within the area and include URLs to their website where the full details are located.

Maintaining a respectful and dignified approach to safe venue facilities is an essential element of re-building the business. It’s vital that we all do everything possible to restore attendee confidence as quickly as possible by making it easy for event planners to find safe venues and promote their events confidently.