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Gucci Millions Rejected! Venue Finding Shouldn’t be this Difficult!

As an events agency with a free venue finding service we are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting venues that can give our clients that extra Wow! factor. Our clients and potential clients are often seeking new venues that their guests will not have experienced before. All events are intended to create a favourable impression and the vast majority support a clear business strategy. So, whether for a small and select group like a Board or for members of a large sales team, coming up with a new and exciting venue can provide a competitive and business advantage.

So, why then is it so difficult to source new venues? Well, two examples, one from Greece and one from Italy illustrate the emotions involved. In Greece, in the well-publicised case of the Athens Acropolis, Gucci offered €2 million to host a 15 minute catwalk show at the iconic monument, yet were turned down flat by the Government. The proposed catwalk show was deemed “indecent and profane”, and inconsistent with the monument’s “unique cultural character”, and the decision was supported by a majority of Greeks. Yet, as one Greek commentator complained, the Gucci millions could have transformed the ‘third world’ condition of so many Greek archaeological sites, paying for more guards or much needed renovation work.

In the second example, fashion house Fendi took over the Trevi Fountain in Rome for their own ‘walking on water’ Fall 2016 couture show. Back in 2013 Fendi donated just over $2 million to restore the Trevi to its original glory, work that took 2 years to complete. From the photos it’s clear their money was well spent! The catwalk show was of course not without controversy, but it seems as though the Italian love of fashion and glamour won through.

There will always be arguments on both sides when big brands want to exploit or celebrate (depending on your point of view) the cultural heritage of a country. And who is to say which side is right. But at least in both examples a debate was held and the request was considered. All too often the dead hand of bureaucracy rejects any consideration of an event proposal.

We have experienced such bureaucracy in several recent searches, and have struggled to overcome the negative mind-set that exists in the custodians and trustees of many iconic buildings and venues in Europe and here in the UK. These are the same venues and institutions who complain about being starved of cash by Government austerity, and struggle to balance their books. Yet there is a large group of corporate clients, just like Gucci and Fendi, who are happy to pay very good money to provide their guests with a unique and memorable experience in an iconic building or venue. The additional revenue gained from allowing a limited number of carefully managed events each year could transform the finances of such venues, yet the negative mind-set persists.

We have been fortunate in recent months to have broken down such mind-sets and have acquired some truly unique venues for clients – but it is a continual struggle, and venue finding should really not be this difficult.

I don’t have all the answers, but have found that highlighting the benefits to venues of new and sustainable revenue streams, the potential for valuable future corporate sponsorships, and offering case studies of similar venues that ‘get it’, have proved successful – turning previously intransigent gate keepers into ultimately enthusiastic advocates.