Lucy Povey is an experienced events manager and venue consultant. She works with venues to help them reach their potential by maximising income from the hire of their event spaces.
I am passionate about the arts, and equally passionate about sustaining their future. Having worked as a Development and Event Manager and also as a Theatre Manager, I believe space hires are the key to steady income and lasting stability.
Some of the most exciting and beautiful spaces in London are arts-based venues, yet there is a huge untapped market for utilising these spaces and creating income by hiring them out. Few venues are maximising the commercial potential of their space at a time when the arts is under increasing financial pressure.
Challenges for arts venues to hire space
Ensuring your customer-facing staff are trained and developed properly is essential.
Each venue faces its own challenges, and funding is the biggest. With so much else going on (such as back-to-back shows or exhibitions), space hires have become less of a priority for many organisations.
The most common issue for space hires is lack of resource, whether funding, staff or the skills required.
At many small and medium-sized venues, hires are only one part of an individual’s role. So it is rarely given the dedication it needs to really make it a success.
So how do you maximise the return on your resource?
10 ways to increase income through hires
Ensure your team have the skills they need
Enquiries are fast-moving and very reactive. With training and development, ensure your staff are empowered to make decisions quickly and independently.
Get your pricing right
Review what you charge and then determine what the real cost of the hire is to your venue. If you don’t get this right with a more demanding client or complex events you could end up making a loss.
Understand what you can offer
Set the client’s expectations, don’t over promise and make sure you can always deliver
Work with your team
Improve their ability to convert enquiries to sales or to decline them as quickly as possible, increasing productivity and efficiency.
The enquiry process can be very administratively heavy, streamline this as much as possible and be clear on areas of responsibility, freeing up time to generate more business.
Set your team clear targets
This is ultimately a sales role and your team should be actively recruiting new business, not just responding to enquiries. As important as repeat business is, you must continually focus on expanding your client base.
Get the marketing right
Ensure your promotional materials and online presence is professional and in line with your organisation’s brand. Identify why your venue is unique and who your client base is. Your marketing department spends every day encouraging people to visit your venue, so ensure you are using their expertise and taking their advice in this area.
Work with your competition
Set up a networking group or forum with other venues to keep on top of news and trends. As relationships develop you may wish to consider developing a reciprocal agreement, so if you are unable to accommodate an enquiry you recommend each other’s venues.
Make space hires a priority
To make hires successful, this must be led from the top by engaging all departments. Without the support of your Marketing, Technical and Customer-facing departments you may be able to get the business through the door, but without a team effort your client is unlikely to receive a quality service and they may not come back.
Get external help
If you lack the skills or expertise in house, hire a consultant to project manage this process. This is a considerably more cost effective option. They can provide training, implement systems and could be just what your venue needs to kick start this stream of income.