Venue staff need to be more experienced and more senior at enquiry stage, according to a report out today by a leading events venue.

Lord’s Cricket Ground in London found that the initial inquiry stage by an event organiser is ‘critical’ to get right, in order to establish an effective relationship and manage expectations ahead of an event.

That means getting RFP (requests for proposals) out in a timely fashion, ensuring that every aspect of the information contained in it is correct and can be committed to.

A focus group consisting of senior agency staff and stakeholders within the meeting and events industry were tasked with addressing how venues can better support planners.

Their report addressed the need for experienced people with the right level of seniority at enquiry stage and underlined the need for venues to develop closer relationships with their customers and the importance of enquiry handlers receiving accurate and transparent information from the customer, to allow them to respond with the right level of accuracy.

Many venues suffer from a loss of connection with event planners, who lose out on the venues’ own experience of their business and what it can offer customers.

“That initial enquiry stage is critical; it sets the tone and expectations of the relationship between venue and organiser,” said Mark Stormont, Co-Founder & CEO of London Event Productions.”

“A quick response with clear information and readily comprehensible pricing will win swift favour with clients and a surprising number of venues fall short of even this fundamental step. We work with venues to hone their info-marketing material; saving everybody time and avoiding grey areas which might lead to unwelcome surprises, limitations or costs discovered down the line or in the middle of a site visit.”

Nick Kenton, Head of Sales at Lord’s Cricket Ground, added: “The dual desires for accuracy and speed, as well as the need for venues to offer a consultative service for event professionals, all points towards venues needing to have senior, experienced people involved at enquiry level. It’s something we adopted some time ago and it means we can be confident that what the client gets from us is what we can and will deliver.”

The report noted that lead-in time for major conferences and events continues to drop, and that ‘acceptable’ timing for returns of proposals is between one and three hours. Transparent budgeting was also singled out as a major issue for event planners leading to mismanaged budgets, because early figures were not accurate.

“The discussion underlined that event planners and venues need to be more transparent in our briefs, and our response to briefs, and that this is a major cause of frustration for everyone,” concludes Nick. “Again, it’s something that requires experience on both sides of the relationship, but also a level of transparency and trust.”