A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the closure of Earls Court and how it would affect the UK events industry. The response to this was overwhelming. Not in terms of the opinions being expressed, we all knew it would be an unpopular move amongst event professionals, but in terms of how passionate people were about having to find alternative venues. Recently, we also heard news of how Mash Media acquired International Confex, and promptly moved the show to Olympia, a move from what I have heard, has been widely applauded by event professionals not keen on making the journey to the Excel Centre.
These two bits of news got me thinking. Clearly many people in our industry feel passionately about the range of venues that are available and often have clear preferences. This is perfectly understandable. What worries me is the prevalent notion that the only acceptable event venue is in London, preferably West London. The ExCel centre is personally not my favourite venue, but do we risk demonising it just because it has the wrong London Postcode? Within London itself are a wide range of different venues that do a fantastic job of supporting events all year round. Recently Eventsforce has been at HMS President and Dexter House and found them both to be excellent venues. There are many more like these in the capital.
But why do events always have to be in London? Sometimes there is a necessity, but the UK is not just London and has plenty of other solid venues such as The NEC in Birmingham or the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool. Alternatively, there is a distinct trend at the moment of embracing more ‘alternative’ venues. I’ve seen super-large marquees, disused Underground stations, even National Parks used and discussed as possible event venues.
So, I think that as an industry we need to be less worried about what the future holds for event venues. There are plenty of excellent venues all over the country more than capable of hosting a range of events, and with a little imagination there may be a hidden gem of a venue that can make your event really stand out.