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The value of venue finding

Caroline Lumgair Wiseman, founder and MD of Eventful Limited, asks whether the current venue finding model is fit for purpose.

We need to talk about the value of venue finding.

Many corporate clients have acknowledged the considerable value of working in close partnership with a venue finding agency. This has been particularly true through the pandemic, with many agencies working tirelessly to protect their clients’ interests, negotiating preferable postponement and cancellation terms on their behalf. 

However, the pandemic and its effect on the travel and events industry has seen many businesses brought to their knees, with the short and long term implications necessitating an examination of current business practice. 

The venue finding business model - where agents are paid for their services after the event has taken place - is now in question. Many are wondering if it remains fit for purpose.

"The current model sees benefits afforded mainly to the corporate entities."

With agents acting in the capacities of negotiator, designer, facilitator, marketeer, creator, consultant, adviser and broker, it is they who go in to bat for both the venue and the client.

They secure substantial gains for these two parties and then often find themselves at risk in terms of untenable payment terms that result in long delays in payment for work completed far in advance, work not considered billable by many due to the existing commission model.

The current model sees benefits afforded mainly to the corporate entities, with agents only benefitting if the event confirms and actualises and, as mentioned, quite literally after the event.

"The pandemic has seen business model challenges that have long existed in the industry exacerbated."

The following questions require further consideration:

  •  Is the current business model fair? 
  •  Is it sustainable?
  •  With whom does the majority of the risk sit?

In light of these questions, is there an argument for a more equitable working practice that would see the risk spread more evenly between all parties? 

The pandemic has seen business model challenges that have long existed in the industry exacerbated, with many agencies convening both informally and formally to share their thoughts and concerns. 

"This is a call for empathy and equality in an industry that prides itself on being about people." 

What then is required of us? 

First of all, a greater degree of awareness of the work being done by all parties involved in an event. It is this awareness that will lead to an understanding of the true contribution and value that highly consultative venue sourcing agencies provide to the events industry. 

Secondly, a generous amount of courage in order to have the difficult conversations and then to implement the changes that will promote a greater degree of transparency within the business model, thereby positively affecting the entire event booking process.

It is crucial that industries evolve. And evolution is only possible when people begin to question the status quo and to find viable solutions to practice that protects some but poses a threat to the livelihoods of others. 

This potential review is a call for empathy and for equality in an industry that prides itself on being about people. 

The pandemic has also highlighted the extent of our inter-connection, showing us that we have a responsibility to operate in ways that ensure wellbeing for all. 

"A more balanced model would see all parties accept a portion of the risk." 

How could the model be improved? 

A possible solution that has been floated is two-part: the first part sees the corporate client paying a fee at the outset which could then be rebated after the event has taken place and the commission has been paid to the agency, the rebate would be subject to the scale of the project and according to whether the true cost of the agency’s time has been covered. 

The second part sees hotels and venues pay a deposit on the commission to agencies upon contract signature and deposit payment from the corporate client. 

These actions would contribute to a more balanced model where all parties accept a portion of the risk. 


Caroline Lumgair Wiseman

Caroline Lumgair Wiseman

Caroline Lumgair Wiseman is the founder and managing director of Eventful Limited, a global venue sourcing and event management agency.

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