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Opening the booking window

Peter Heath, founder, Venue Performance, reports on the impact short lead times are having on profits

“Despite some wavering during the first few months of the year we have, in the end, had a good first half and venues can feel pretty optimistic.

“The two issues looking forwards are, first of all: short lead times, which are causing stress because nobody can plan and in the events sector we love a good plan. It gets very challenging working out what you will have to do when it comes to ordering food and staffing when booking remains very last minute.

“Short lead times is a nasty habit which people are not yet looking to break. It is not possible to incentivise events bookers to change this because it is caused by volatility in the market. So there is no point offering discounts for a longer window: bookers just cannot see that far out. They are not holding out for anything: they don't have permission to book.

“Businesses have got into the habit of making decisions a lot later. Because the businesses are volatile, because the business climate is volatile.

“The second issue is that of profit: is it worth my while adding extra business, particularly at late notice? It costs money to go from your basic offering to accommodating additional people. You have to pay a premium on food. You have to pay a premium on agency staff. You have to pay extra to train them in the time you don’t have.

“Venues must work on their flow, on their profitability when they think about bringing in extra work. Don’t think about revenue, think about profit.”


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