Have you got your Christmas Party booked?

After the long, astonishingly hot Summer we have enjoyed only just coming to an end, I have only just started to think about digging out the Autumn/Winter wardrobe – never mind Christmas! However, in the venue management world, Christmas is front of mind with plans well under-way!

It may seem a long way off, but Christmas is a mere 114 days away and with festive events starting as early as mid-November. Venues need to prepare to ensure they fully capitalise on the spike in footfall and supply seamless events that leave a lasting impression. Corporate businesses, especially large organisations, will be finalising budgets and beginning to research the options available for the office Christmas party now! Venues need to be shouting about their offering and prepared for the enquiries to start flooding in!

Conference News Magazine has revealed that the latest Christmas Party Show welcomed a record 11% increase in corporate event buyers, forecasting a busy season ahead. A key trend uncovered was that budgets are roughly staying the same from 2017 to 2018, but for venues, operational costs have experienced an increase along with visitor expectations – clearly, something needs to change.

With budgets tightening and expectations rising, a trend we might see this year is businesses considering a Wednesday rather than the usual popular Thursday – Saturday dates to reduce costs. If they want to attend the same venue, enjoy the same (if not better) standard of event and use the same budget of previous years, something must be compromised. For venues, this is not a negative, this is an opportunity to gain high footfall on days which are historically quieter, get creative with their experience strategies and build their brand reputation!

To maximise each and every day throughout the festive season, venues need to consider budgets and offer alternatives. If they can provide a range of packages, discounts and promotions, it will ensure all tastes and budgets are catered to, reaching everyone’s expectations and not losing business opportunities. It’s also key venues consider the evolving needs of guests, an example being the significant rise in vegetarians and vegans. Venues need to ensure menus not only just have an option for these dietary requirements but have an emphasis on this.

Guests want a heightened experience, they want unique opportunities to engage with and enjoy pop-ups, entertainers, and limited edition products. The décor needs to be considered and have the ‘wow factor’, transforming a venue into a destination which encourages guest to take and share photos. Unique experiences and visually engaging interior will significantly heighten the venues brand awareness and grow interest for future events.

Regardless of budget, all guests expect quality, festive hospitality and in response to this, venues are investing in experiential management training to ensure exceptional service is delivered. This year, we can expect to see management teams going one-step further than their usual services; organising transport, partnering with nearby leisure tenants or bars to provide a full event management service, planning the entire evening for their guest!

Christmas is an opportunity for venues to build their reputation further, especially in the corporate world. Reward and recognition of staff is a trend here to stay, showing the events market has a resilient future. If venues impress at Christmas, they can lift footfall and gain repeat visits throughout the year!

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