Originally we wanted to work with community and village halls. Two of us had some experience with trying to help a village hall get some funding and start to improve its marketing. We realised that the hall needed money, and apart from grants it was all about getting more people to book the venue for longer and pay for it.
We appreciated that the people running the venue were all volunteers and these seemed to come and go as often as he tides changed, (or so it seemed).
So our idea was to set up a website that would list all of the community and village halls in the UK. As soon as we started this we realised that we would be doing a dis-service to the halls and to all of the other venues that were competing for the same business. Don’t get me wrong, a village hall is going to find it hard to host a large exhibition and not many people would book a 5 star hotel each week to hold a flower club meeting. That said there are many events that can, are and could be held in either type of venue.
It also struck us that many village halls could do with some of the services that a slightly larger organisation could help them with. Give me an example I hear you cry, well how about a pub that doesn’t have enough room to host an event supporting a local village hall that doesn’t have a liquor licence or perhaps doesn’t have kitchen facilities.
So we expanded our listings and started to include any venue that could be hired by the public. As we say on our blurb, everything from a scout hut to a castle.
Although we have about 15% of the venues listed now verified (that is where someone from the venue has taken a few minutes to ‘adopt’ the venue and upload some original text and pictures as well as confirming the contact details) we still have 85% who haven’t!!! Its Free, is that the problem?
If something is free does it have a value? Should we add some extra details and search criteria as well as spend more money on advertising the site and then charge for a listing?
Sorry went off on a tangent there.
We still want to work closely with the committees who manage and run the community and village halls throughout the UK. We have plans to launch a venue club in each county to develop a best practice and support group. Anyone interested in helping us get this off the ground?
Anyway more about where we are with venues4hire in the next instalment.