WHEN it comes to event planning, it takes a lot to be set in motion but Venuerific Malaysia consultant Ravena Hundal makes a compelling argument when she says that it is the only industry to date in Malaysia that has not made use of technology that is so readily and easily available.
“What we do now is Google search only the obvious venues or the places that we know of. But, there are in fact, so many other venues that could have all the requirements that an event planner needs but they unfortunately do not know of its existence,” she said.
In an attempt to verify this, a Google-search spree was in order.
Hundal was right. There were a couple of websites dedicated to just wedding planning but nothing catered to events like bachelorette or birthday parties.
Enter venuerific.com, an online marketplace promoting event spaces while connecting venue owners and event planners to discover and book amazing properties while facilitating venue search and discovery, event coordination and venue hire with no hassle.
Venuerific is the brainchild of Ricardo Sentosa from Singapore, who told the executive lifestyle section of the Singapore Business Times, the idea came to him when he realised that “the ‘sharing economy’ (socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources) was real.” Sentosa expanded his business to Hong Kong in January and Malaysia in April.
Speaking on behalf of the Malaysian team, Hundal asserted that “the benefit of the website is that it gives venue owners a platform to advertise and inform the public as well as event planners about the availability of a space with the details about the venue while saving the owners from the possibility of the space being under-utilised. In reciprocation, the event planner will be able to find venues on the highly curated website based on the event.”
In just five months, Venuerific has over 182 venue listings, with an average of five event requests on a daily basis. Its Facebook page has 1,000 thumbs-up or “Likes” probably for its one-stop solutions, which make it easy for event planners to look for a space, and filter it down further based on budget, required amenities, area and accessibility.
Hundal adds: “Venuerific will also benefit public relations (PR) companies that are on the lookout for venues on a daily basis.”
A seasoned event planner will know that no event, big or small, intimate or flashy will be a success if the venue is unable to fit the requirements or the necessities that the event needs to make it memorable. Venuerific also offers an in-house team of experienced event coordinators to ensure that any event that is booked through their website goes on smoothly.
Hundal held that venue owners commonly face a struggle to stand out from competition, especially if their establishment is new and is competing against more established, popular sites. Venue owners also run the risk of suffering revenue losses if their space is under-utilised and also because bookings are still highly manual and involve a multi-step process, errors are bound to occur. Limited resources to advertise are also a cause why property owners have trouble making their venues known to the public.
Event planners have a different set of problems, Hundal explained. Firstly, booking a venue manually can be tedious. It is also time consuming to find an appropriate venue based on its availability and suitability with considerations like location, budget and amenities. Given the limited resources at the disposal of an event planner, it would also be difficult to compare venues and manually track venue information. In most cases, an event planner would rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals, which inevitably limits the selection of venues.
Featuring spaces like studios to underground bunkers and many others in between, Venuerific Malaysia also has partnerships with caterers, entertainers, decorators and photographers as added services for their clients who book venues through the website.
|Zebra Square KL in Jalan Kampung Pandan is in Venuerific’s list. The exterior looks amazing for a cocktail event party.|
To make full use of the website, venue owners are encouraged to list their sites by uploading pictures of their settings, and write a short description about the space that would give enough information for event planners to make an informed decision. The team’s venue specialist will then facilitate communication between the event planners and the venue owners to schedule onsite visits. However, to achieve prominent brand presence, owners could consider making a long-term investment with Venuerific Malaysia.
There are four packages to choose from, for their establishments to be featured. The returns on investment are that their space will be consistently highlighted on the website and its social media platforms.
According to the figures from a 2012 marketing report from the Malaysian Food Industry, there are over 12,700 venues/establishments that offer about RM500 million in revenue opportunity for investors. Hundal says Venuerific simply aims to help its investors have a slice of that pie.
For services that are currently not available on the website, event planners can drop Venuerific an email and it will make arrangements to accommodate your requests to the best of its ability.
To better serve customers, the team at Venuerific Malaysia is considering the use of a YouTube channel that could highlight eateries so that event planners will have a visual image of the venue and what it has to offer and even give back to the community as part of their corporate responsibility efforts.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 28, 2014.