Function Fixers: An interview with Carrie Larwood for Lime Venues Portfolio and The Venue Collection
Carrie Larwood is Managing Director and Founder of Function Fixers. She’s also an experienced and trusted venuefinder who works closely with companies to not only find the perfect venue but to ensure that the best possible working relationship is forged and a fair contract is in place. As part of our March on March campaign, we wanted to get Carrie’s insight into the next few months in the meetings and events industry.
Why do you think that March will be a key turning point for events?
As the vaccine starts to be distributed, we will quickly get back to normality and we will see a desperate rush for events and social gatherings. People need people and everyone has been starved of experiences and human connections. Events will come back strong and will be big business. Summer parties will be really popular because utilising an outside environment will help people to feel safer as there’s less risk of infection. I already have clients booking London venues for spring and beyond because they are so very keen to hold events; we have all missed events and by Spring we will be ready to enjoy full on celebrations. By June I think that we will be operating at pre Covid levels, and can start to plan properly for 2021 and 2022.
The recent research conducted by the #WeCreateExperiences campaign demonstrated how important internal events are to staff moral, engagement and communication. Business leaders have acknowledged that their teams have missed them and that business performance has suffered. They need these events to return as soon as possible, as they will be essential tools to help build their businesses back up in 2021.
What practical steps can event bookers take now to get ready for March?
I’m advising my clients to get their venues booked now or to risk disappointment. If a company wants to hold an event in 2021 - be it the annual sales conference that was missed, or the awards dinner that had to be cancelled - my advice would be to decide on a date, pencil it in to everyone’s calendars and get a venue booked now. Even if you are just thinking of holding an event, get something booked. You can always cancel it or move it; most venues are offering sensible contracts with very flexible cancellation policies so you really have nothing to lose. Once you have a date and a venue, you can always move it if needed, but unless you book now you run the risk of finding that your chosen venue (and even your second and third choice) is booked up. Next year is going to be huge and the businesses that don’t book soon will miss out.
Also, use a venuefinder! Most venues are really great to deal with, but having a relationship already in place through a business like ours adds an extra layer of knowledge about the product, and a better chance of getting the most out of your investment. We can also work with you on things like contracts and cancellation charges. Again, many venues have given this a huge amount of thought and speak to us about it more than other businesses; we can work with them to get the best for your and your event.
Do you have any advice to give venues to help buyers book?
I appreciate that many venue staff are furloughed, but we all need to work together through lockdowns because there are enquiries that need to be answered. Business needs planning – it won’t simply return as soon as they open their doors again. I also appreciate that the level of enquiries they are receiving right now may be low, but I am still placing business and finding that many venues simply are not replying to my enquiries, or that they are taking ages to respond. Venues need to be active, responsive and eager to help venue finders and our clients to hold events again.
Function Fixers can be contacted at www.functionfixers.co.uk.
With guidelines changing from week to week, we know it can be hard to keep track of what event types can go ahead and what the different rules are. To help you navigate the uncertainty, we’ve put together a list of COVID-19 FAQs to give you some information on the questions we’ve been asked the most. We’ll be updating this page in line with any changes to Government advice, and will always ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep you informed and ensure your events are as safe as possible.
Let’s get positive about 2021
This meetings and events industry is about to start its comeback story, and it will return quickly, full of the learnings that come from some of the toughest times it has faced in recent history. It will be hungry.