Event booking is the process of (1) identifying desired events or activities appropriate for the venue and the community (2) contacting event owners or promoters and (3) engaging in negotiations leading to a contract. Bookings and events drive ALL revenue for events venues. This is true, regardless of mission, ownership type or revenue model. An events venue could not exist without events.
As such, time and space are the essential commodities of an events venue and they are perishable.
Every day that goes by without programming is an opportunity cost for the venue.
Therefore, booking managers are tasked with creating a full and diverse schedule that is consistent with the “mission and public purpose of the venue and the economic expectations that govern its operation.” The venue should provide an environment that encourages maximum profit with minimum risk to BOTH the promoter and the venue. Booking… or more specifically… calendaring is NOT an administrative task. It is THE critical business function for the venue. The calendar itself is often managed with sophisticated industry specific software. This software is used to manage hold status (first, second, challenge, etc) and reserve space to avoid double- bookings, to manage resources, to create invoices and billing tools and to communicate event needs to event services providers- an important step in the internal event logistics process. The venue calendar is typically maintained by a single gatekeeper to limit the number of entries and potential for scheduling conflict. The scheduling policy that the booking manager abides by is in place to create scheduling priorities and to maintain “uncompromising integrity and accuracy.”
The willingness to incur risk is related to the venue’s mission and/ or funding model. The venue’s risk tolerance will determine the booking types the building will consider. The three most common booking models are:
The venue contracts for the event to happen and accepts ALL of the financial risk (Highest Risk/ Highest Reward).
The venue contracts for the event but SHARES the financial risk with the promoter or event producer.
The venue rents the space to a tenant/ promoter, thereby NOT INCURRING any direct financial risk (Lowest Risk/ Lowest Reward).
Like all businesses, events venues aim to drive the most revenue possible with the least amount of financial risk; though some are more aggressive in this pursuit than others. In assessing the relative riskiness of an event, booking managers must ask:
- When and where will this event take place?
- Will it displace existing programming?
- Will date selection create additional costs?
- What else is happening in the market to compete?
- Does this date work for our potential audience?
- Is there programming in front of or behind this proposed event that could be impacted?
- What are the hard costs and risks of hosting this event?
- What does it cost for the building to open its doors rather than stay dark (labor, utilities, insurance, food prep, staffing)?
- Will booking this event create conflict with anchor tenants and stakeholders?
- Does booking this event take away from other programming?
- What is the revenue potential and does it justify buying a show?
As the booking manager moves through this evaluation process, it becomes clear that venue sourcing and event booking is dependent on the relationship between the booking manager and the event promoter. It only works when there is honesty and accountability on both sides. This is an effective symbiotic relationship. The success of the event yields success for the venue (measured in revenue, guest satisfaction, risk mitigation and reputation). Simultaneously, the venue’s success creates the foundation of success for the event promoter. This relationship is built over time. Because the event planning process is collaborative, the venue and event promoter are in regular communication- there are multiple opportunities for compromise and negotiation on both sides. Effective event planners must keep the big picture in focus even when working on the minuscule. What is in the best interest of the event on the whole and how this event can be used to establish a long term relationship for multiple events is the key consideration. The idea of big- picture, mutual benefit must be authentic. One sided relationships are not sustainable. In the world of concert promotion, sometimes venues will promote shows they know they are going to lose on in the short term, to establish a long term relationship with that promoter for eventual sum gains. This dynamic only exists when there is loyalty and trust.
A real benefit of working with Stylehawk Event Services is that we have this loyalty and trust with our San Diego venue partners. They understand the role we play and the value Stylehawk provides. Our venue partners trust that we are pre- screening events to ensure:
The event is an appropriate fit for the venue.
This is both art and science. In small and mid- sized event venues, an enormous amount of vision and creativity is necessary to bring an event vision to life in that event space. Stylehawk can help flesh this vision out, coordinate with contractors/ service providers and then communicate design to the venue manager. Often, the question of “fit” has less to do with the physical needs of the event or more to do with the social, cultural, financial and contextual elements of an event. By understanding these constraints, we can focus the venue search on the facilities that meet these specific, non- functional demands. In this way, elements of risk tolerance can be discussed head on and in relation to that specific building.
This event is the basis for a real, long term booking relationship that is mutually beneficial.
We consider both the venue and the promoter to be Stylehawk clients. We want to make sure the venue had a great experience with the event promoter. Similarly, we want to make sure the building absolutely worked for the promoter and that these events become recurring opportunities for all.
The events venue will be left in better condition than it was received.
Like the Boy Scouts, Stylehawk intends to “do no harm” when it comes to the event space. With a venue management background, each venue is treated as if it were our own. Time and money is the solution to any event related damage and unfortunately, there is never enough of either in the venue management world. A check for a million dollars won’t get the floor fixed before tomorrow’s basketball game…
The event will not monopolize venue time, staff and resources.
Some events are needy. This is true either because they have a lot of moving parts that require deliberate and specific planning attention or because the event promoter is inexperienced or short- handed. Stylehawk can neutralize this monopolization of attention but consolidating event needs and then acting as the venue contact. This means the output received by the venue is gathered and curated in a way that is actionable for the venue operator.
The event will be presented in a safe and professional manner consistent with the venue’s reputation.
Often times, event attendees have no idea who the event promoter is. They just know where they are. A poorly organized show reflects poorly on the venue and could have real consequences. Stylehawk’s involvement will give the venue confidence that the event will be presented to their standards.
Event booking and venue sourcing is a relationship based process. Stylehawk has worked very hard over the last decade to cultivate these relationships with Southern California (San Diego, Orange County, Long Beach and Los Angeles) venues and service providers. Who you know matters, as does reputation. Doors open to event promoters who recognize the human interactions that drive this business. When people are respectful and accountable, great things happen. Stylehawk would be honored to put our reputation to work for your next event. We have a great stable of venue partners in San Diego and all parts of Southern California. Contact us today!