By Laura Bradley

Event professional Emma Gibson shares her story of launching a venue sourcing company during Covid.

Over the past few months, Australia’s business events industry has been holding its breath.

With no extension planned for the government’s JobKeeper scheme beyond March 2021, and the absence of a national strategy for state borders to instil confidence for organisers and delegates, a lot of us have been sitting tight and waiting for an answer.

Well, not Emma Gibson.

This event professional has been busy launching a new conference and venue sourcing company for the Australian and international markets.

The Venue Agency, which opened for business this month, provides one point of contact for clients’ venue needs, including sourcing, evaluation and site inspections, and Emma believes there has “never been a better time to launch a venue sourcing company.”

“Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on our industry over the last 12 months, leading to a lot of uncertainty and confusion around what is and is not possible when planning a future meeting or event,” she said.

“The Venue Agency was formed to provide our clients with expert knowledge of industry trends and to give them the guidance in the best ways to book their events in the current climate.”

With experience across PCOs, international hotels and venue sourcing companies, Emma understands both sides of the tourism and events industries, a point of difference she believes will help her clients secure the most ideal venue for their meetings and events.

The Venue Agency currently has two employees and has indicated a healthy early interest in its services. Since the company’s launch, it has received a number of RFPs and is close to contracting its first piece of business for a four-day residential conference.

Most of this is coming from corporate businesses and associations based in Sydney and Melbourne, with groups ranging from workshops for 20-30 pax up to multi-day conferences with 150-200 pax.

But despite the company’s early success, Emma is aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

She said that a lot of her clients are unaccustomed to dealing with events that now have a six-month lead time as opposed to the 12-to-18-months pre-Covid.

Cancellation terms and conditions are another hot topic, with uncertainty among both buyers and sellers when it comes to what will happen if another lockdown occurs.

But despite the hazy road ahead, Emma is remaining positive.

“I really believe that corporate businesses and associations will be looking for expert assistance more than ever before to guide them through these times. As such, The Venue Agency is well placed to provide support not only to our valued clients but to our industry colleagues as well.”

Emma concluded by echoing calls from other industry leaders and associations, such as The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), for continued government support for the venue and conference industry.

“It is essential to ensure the viability of the many great suppliers and venues that are the backbone of our industry.”

I guess the rest of us will have to keep sitting tight.

To get in touch with The Venue Agency, email: Info@TheVenueAgency.com.au