By Moya Maxwell, chair, Unique Venues of London
There are encouraging signs that 2015 is set to be a buoyant year for private events and corporate hospitality, especially from a resurgent domestic market. A survey conducted amongst Unique Venues of London’s 81 member venues found that that 91 per cent of respondents had an optimistic business outlook for 2015 (up eight per cent on 2013’s results). And many members recording that January was the busiest ever for new event enquiries.
There is no doubt that the number of enquiries, especially private bookings, has risen in the last year. It is fair to say there is much to be positive about, but the client demands have changed considerably, becoming far more nuanced and sophisticated than they were a few years ago. Most obviously this has manifested itself to increasing requests for more creative events, incorporating innovative and sensational catering with original and unusual entertainment, to create a unique experience. Clients are now, more than ever, looking for strong ROI and are willing to pay extra if they feel they are getting unparalleled value for their money.
The nature of enquiries has also changed, no longer is venue booking the reserve of the big corporations. Our membership indicated a marked rise in media bookings, perhaps attributed to the increasing use of heritage venues for filming locations or backdrops to big productions and photoshoots.
Furthermore, the appetite for corporate hospitality is no less strong, and 2014/2015 definitely saw an upturn in bookings, but similarly to the events market, there is a greater call for the bespoke. As such, providers now need to offer a full range of packages and solutions to suit all budgets and client expectations – the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is definitely a thing of the past. There has also been an increase in private client/high-net-worth individuals booking hospitality which would have previously been the sole domain of the corporates.
2015 promises to be an exciting and lucrative year for the London events and corporate hospitality sector, punctuated by plenty of exciting festivals and landmark events. It’s a more competitive market, full of commercial opportunities which will yield solid revenue for the savvy, helping to drive London business and the wider UK economy.