We talk a lot about how to organise and market a great event, but where you hold it also has a huge impact on its success. We share findings from our latest Event Trends Report that reveal how creators can identify and secure great spaces in 2020.

This year’s survey revealed that the UK and Ireland’s events industry is experiencing a period of stability. However, 58% of respondents plan to hold more events, 37% think their event budget will increase, and 27% believe their events team will grow in 2020. These growth indicators present creators with an opportunity to think about how they might evolve their approach. Here’s how we expect the event venue landscape to change.

1. More than just a space

Organisers want more than just a space to hire. They want the opportunity to partner with a venue that shares their vision – whether that’s commitment to supporting sustainability or welcoming a diverse audience. So, instead of seeing venue owners as third-party suppliers, creators are looking to form ongoing relationships with them. This is part of a bigger community-building trend we are seeing across the industry.

With event organisers saying their responsibilities are broader and more varied than in previous years, they also want to feel supported – 38% of our survey respondents would like venues to help with event promotion. And, if event creators don’t find what they are looking for – 37% of UK and Ireland curators say that it’s very difficult or difficult to find the right venue for their event – they aren’t afraid of establishing their own venues so they have complete control over their offering. 

2. Experiential events

When asked about what they thought the future would hold, our survey respondents were enthusiastic about the potential of technology and its ability to provide experiential events. Predictions included a “decrease in people attending events that do not include an experiential and educational side”, “more immersive curated events” and “experiential events and unique opportunities for guests to take something away from an event that’s shareable on social and special to them”.

As a result, it’s important for organisers to build relationships with venues that can help support this demand for immersive events. A venue can offer various add-ons, from enhanced audio-visual capabilities to broadband speeds that can support a seamless artificial reality or virtual reality experience.

3. Virtual versus IRL

Digital innovations are resulting in more and more virtual events and venues, as well as real-life events that can be live-streamed to a remote audience. Put simply, not being in the same city (or country) is no longer a barrier to attendance – now’s the time to get up to speed with webinars. Talking of online content, you could also record live events to use in future video marketing materials. 

Our Event Trends Report also revealed that many creators have yet to deploy some of the technologies they think might be able to help them reach attendees. For example, 70% of respondents believe search engine marketing to be very effective or somewhat effective, but only 39% of creators use it. Similarly, 62% believe chatbots are very effective or somewhat effective, but only 10% of creators have made use of this technology.

4. Green credentials

Part of this move to online events comes from an increased focus on environmental factors. Stemming from a desire to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, many comments centred on intentions to cut back on live events and grow online events, from “webinar training for our organisation’s volunteers” to “digital-first offerings for remote attendees.”

In last year’s survey, 11% of event creators said sustainability would have the greatest impact on their event in 2019, whereas this year, 69% of event creators say sustainability will be an area of focus in 2020. This presents a real opportunity for organisers to lead by example and demonstrate a commitment to the environment through their social channels and marketing efforts.

A step in the right direction is to partner with an eco-friendly venue. So, let’s hope 2020 is the year that event creators instigate change by finding out if venues are EarthCheck or LEED-certified, and asking about their approach to waste, when deciding whether or not to hire them.

5. Venues that go the extra mile

We’ve already looked at how marketing support is by far the biggest value-add a venue can offer. After that, 9% of organisers would like to see more flexible payment terms. Versatility with how a space is configured, faster response times, better customer service, free WiFi, and improved WiFi signal were all deemed to be equally desirable (6%). By making sure you ask the right questions when assessing a venue’s suitability, you can ensure you receive the support you need. 

As you start the new year, it’s worth looking for ways a venue can help you provide a point of difference in a crowded space. As one respondent predicted, we will continue to see “venues with a difference, which stand out more than the ‘usual’ conference or event space”. From cultural institutions to fairytale castles, make 2020 the year you explore the unique and unusual venues that the UK and Ireland have to offer.

For more insights from creators and actionable advice, download our Event Trends Report 2020, which is packed with information on today’s events landscape.

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