Anita Lowe – chief executive, Venues and Events International, on building a company you would want to do business with.
I’ve been in meetings and events for over 30 years, and I’ve seen how it has evolved into this high-energy, fast-paced and exciting industry.
That’s why energy, passion and enthusiasm is what we always look for when we’re recruiting for new employees to join our team. If we didn’t, how would we deliver our corporate strategy: ‘To delight our clients, living and breathing their events as their chosen agency’? If we’re not at the heartbeat of our clients’ events, then we’re not succeeding in our vision as a company.
We may be at the heartbeat of our clients’ events, but our employees are the heartbeat of our own business and therefore what our culture is based upon. It was by recognising the importance of what company values represent that we decided to re-launch our own internally and to share our vision with our clients.
That is why Richard Branson’s words ring true to what we believe: “Your culture really is one of the most important things of your company; it’s who you are, it’s why customers choose you. Build a great company which you would want to do business with yourself. If you get this right, your culture is right.”
Values shouldn’t just be written down in the company handbook and dusted off during an induction
For us, values shouldn’t just be written down in the company handbook and dusted off during an induction when a new employee joins – that’s far too impersonal for us.
Values are hard to teach, unlike skills and techniques, and if they are not shared by the people within your organisation, there can be a conflict and disconnect within your team. By working with Echo Fox, our team building partner, we successfully brought our values to life, re-energised the team, and reminded them of the importance of having such passion within this industry.
By having this ‘shared’ passion and understanding of values helps employees make informed decisions that unify the company culture. That’s why our Values Day wasn’t about ‘telling’ our employees what our values are, it was their opportunity to come up with their own ideas, that together we could discuss and develop to enhance our vision as a company.
We didn’t want our values to be your typical buzzwords; collaborate, innovate, integrity.
We wanted something personal to us, that represents uniqueness. That’s why we came up with the following that reflects our individuality and sets us apart from our competitors:
- High customer touch
- Part of our clients’ team
- Making our time valuable
- Partners of choice
It’s these values that make us believe we are a fit for our clients as they demonstrate our flexibility and the ability to adapt to individual needs.
Once you have a team that believe in your values, it’s easier for them to embrace your clients’ own company culture and incorporate their values in their daily lives as well as our own. Clients expect more from you now.
Before, it would be a matter of simply proposing a few venues for their next meeting and confirming details such as refreshments and the meeting room set up. That’s certainly not the case anymore. For us it is about that high-customer touch and ensure the finer details are covered. As a boutique venue find and event management agency we take the time to care about each of our clients to ensure we’re seen as an extension to their team to deliver an exceptional service and we’ll take them through the delegate journey before the event happens. It won’t just be confirming a menu that’s emailed across, we’ll make our time valuable by visiting the venue, carrying out a food tasting session with our client to ensure the standard in quality.
We understand that we have to get behind their culture and understand their brand to ensure the venues we propose, and our creative concepts we develop, will work within their company values. And that’s always our starting point with any enquiry.
We’ll carry out the necessary research to ensure we can put in that extra detail by intertwining their values into our proposal.
For example, if we know that a client has a key focus on CSR and with a key focus on sustainability; then our venue find search begins with sustainable venues as we know this will tick a big box internally for them when trying to get the budget signed off.
It’s by taking this extra time to get behind their own culture that sees us as a partner of choice for our clients.