Emma Howe, sales and events director at Street Feast, discusses the new normal for venues
Events industry reports continue to indicate a rise in demand for quirky venues, last year for example the Global Meetings Forecast predicted a 4% increase in the use of non-traditional venues, and this year demand for outside the box venues hasn’t waned.
This sentiment is very different from when we launched Street Feast to the corporate event market three years ago – back then we were really seen as the wildcard within the industry where the norm was to go with a dedicated events venue such as conference centre, exhibition hall or hotel ballroom. I think corporates thought they were taking a little bit of a gamble choosing to host an event in a former derelict and disused space – we couldn’t be further away from the traditional if we tried.
But now the wildcard is becoming the norm. We have big financial institutions booking our Canada Water warehouse, Hawker House, and anyone from a law firm to an insurance institute or a global brand is choosing to visit us at our former truck yard in Shoreditch, Dinerama, or our Canary Wharf rooftopia, Giant Robot.
Although all of our venues come ready to go with festival-esque décor, because of the informal and somewhat industrial nature of them, they are prime for transformation. We’ve worked with global brands like Amazon and Facebook to create some incredible events that just wouldn’t have been possible in a more traditional setting. We can move things round, install scaffolding, erect fairground rides, you name it, we can likely do it. And this is the nature of more ‘out there’ venues.
Clients, delegates and even CEO’s are all looking for experiences. We’ve created unique event environments that bring together great street food, brilliant drinks and good vibes that inject life into any event and it’s this sense of purpose that the market is currently craving.
Organisations, corporate or creative, are often looking to escape the mainstream and so becoming less likely to opt for a more traditional venue. And, just like experiences, people also choose venues and brands that they are aligned to or have a connection with. We’re lucky that all our venues are open to the public to enjoy on weekends, so I think event organisers and corporate guests can very much see themselves at our venues in their own time, and at the end of the day people are choosing to host events in places they want to go out.