WEIGHED, MEASURED AND RATED
Over the past years the industry’s focus has shifted away from the physical part of our business and tended to focus more on the digital and virtual side of things. But the physical part; the venue’s quality, has a strong impact on the perception of those attending the show. If visitors, exhibitors and media attend a show, they do not differentiate between venue and show quality. Therefore, let’s not forget: venues are still the basis for our business. We cannot be successful without them. In other words: a venue of high quality can be very beneficial to the quality of a show, a venue of poor quality can be detrimental to the success or future growth of a show. But what determines a top quality venue? Or flipping the question the other way around, which criteria must be considered, and at which benchmark levels should a venue be marked as good or as poor? There has been some joint activity concerning venue safety. This is highly valuable, but so far not enough to provide venues with specific and concrete information on how to secure the highest possible safety standards.
In particular, we see that various specific (and sometimes relatively simple) measures to improve venue safety are not being implemented by many venue operators. In addition, venue owners and operators generally devise and implement their own structures and systems. In terms of venue service quality and efficiency, the spectrum is even wider. Lack of common standards leaves the field open for each venue operator/owner to come up with its own measures, processes and structures. This is highly demanding on resources and very inefficient.
Reflecting on all of these activities to measure and improve venue quality, a few challenges and gaps come to mind:
1- The overall approach taken by our industry is not efficient in addressing multiple levels of exposure to risks (i.e., compliance, what is acceptable, what is a ‘show stopper’ etc.)
2- The comparison of assessment results is not possible
3- Information is not published to support stakeholder groups like organizers, exhibitors or visitors
Based on our experience of more than 15 years of venue development, working on more than 20 master plan assessments, and visits to numerous exhibition and congress venues, JWC developed a simple frame work for a Venue Rating System (VRS). With this system we support venues to increase stakeholder satisfaction. Focusing as an industry on the venue quality front, the improved platforms of our business will be in a better position to compete for marketing budgets of the future. There is much at stake here for the exhibition and large congress industry as a whole if we continue to neglect the safety and quality of our ‘hardware’. The VRS is based on checklists, predefined structures and systems to provide specific guidance to venues and organizers. The VRS shows the venue owner/manager in which areas a facility lags behind international benchmarks, in which critical elements there may be deficits, and of course in which criteria the venue merits an outstanding rating. The framework is based on three major criteria, which in our view cover all relevant aspects: service quality, efficiency and safety.