Looking at the New Landscape of Venue Management with Hostology

Written by Emma Hla
Image by Nesta Lloyd Photography | In partnership with Hostology.
After a year like no other, I’m sure streamlining venue management is a top priority for you and your team heading into 2022.

If you’re currently reviewing your processes, we have the founders of Hostology answering some key questions around the new landscape of venue management.

Created by venues for venues, Anselm Guise (Elmore Court), Samantha Vaughan (Dewsall Court), Josh Dugdale (Wasing Park), Phil Godsal (Iscoyd Park), Harry Dearden (Pennard House) and CEO + Co-Founder of Hostology Emma Hardcastle are talking through how their Event Management Software helps to keep everything on track (despite the craziness of the last few months), and allows for effortless collaboration between your team, suppliers, couples and guests.


What do you think venue management will look like in 2022, and how does hostology help you?

Samantha (Dewsall Court): After such a bottleneck of a year, we have found there are processes and systems which, having been in business for over 11 years, could do with streamlining. In early 2022 we have a two day workshop with our team which we are calling ‘The Big Review’ where we will look at what we have learned from the bottleneck and what we can do to ease our systems in the future. Clearly a major shift in tech is important. We currently run several systems for various departments, some for customer’s involvement, some internal as well as a million different Whatsapp groups and a Google Drive which is bursting at the seams! We are thrilled to hear what is coming up in the near future for Hostology and how this is going to help the tech plates spinning!

Harry (Pennard House): 2022 is going to be an extremely busy year with such a backlog of weddings carried over and most venues hosting a record number of events. Not only are most teams already stretched but with recruitment also proving difficult it is essential to find ways to help teams be more efficient. After a complicated 18 months I also think it is important to strengthen the relationships that couples have with their venues, to maintain close communication with couples on a more regular basis and help build trust. Any system that can be put in place to help do this without increasing admin and workload for staff is going to be extremely useful.

Phil (Iscoyd Park): 2022 is already extremely busy and 2023 is shaping up to be the same. The landscape has changed and though weekend weddings will always be the most sought after, many more couples are now happy to hold their weddings on weekdays. This means that there are fewer planning and show round days available but the levels of service to our clients must be as high as ever.

There are also pressures on staffing, with younger and less experienced staff requiring more training than before. At the same time the world is speeding up, people generally expect things to be done more quickly, clients have less time themselves and all this means that we are having to change the way we operate in order to stay ahead.

This is the case for all wedding venues and good tech is more vital now than ever. For us, using Hostology streamlines everything and pulls the many processes and levels of communication into one place, it saves everyone time and makes the planning process more fun for the marrying couple and the team in house. The reminders help to prevent mistakes which the pressure on time could otherwise cause.

Anselm (Elmore Court): We’re really looking forward to 2022. The immediate craziness after the reopening in the summer was a real firefight but it has shone a light on the many ways we need to be more slick about what we do. At the end of the day we need to be graceful and excellent in providing the dream service whilst our little legs might be running a million miles an hour!

Staff exhaustion understandably piled more pressure on things. We’ve therefore undertaken some external training to strengthen the team and alongside that have increased pay levels considerably and are looking into being certified as a living wage employer. This cuts into profit a little but I believe the future is about a more even playing field with staff, and a better place to work.

All this alongside a better use of smart tech like Hostology means that we’re going to be running things in a much more exciting way, with fewer but better staff than we had before.

A great relationship between the venue and the couple is essential. How have you been able to find the time to nurture that relationship?

Joshua (Wasing Estate): Video calls have been indispensable as well as dedicated support from one member of the team to hold the hand of the couple through the process. Hostology supports this by ensuring that if any information comes through from the couple it is there on the system to be seen and then actioned accordingly.

Anselm (Elmore Court): It has been tricky to maintain those relationships for sure. As the owner of the business I’ve taken time to reach out a little more myself but I think broadly people understand…though that is beginning to wain!

We’ve got some new events around tastings that are exciting people, and again we are strengthening our team so that the weight of couples per coordinator is broadly similar to normal. Of course our couples are also beginning to be able to interface with Hostology tech which means they are not having to wait to speak to a coordinator if they want to plan stuff!

Harry (Pennard House): It’s important to maintain regular communication with our couples throughout the whole planning process, checking in on a regular basis and always being available on the phone. With a small team it is essential that whoever answers the phone can be familiar with the couple calling in, whether they are the assigned event manager or not. Hostology allows quick access to the couple’s information and itinerary, and this familiarity helps build trust with the venue.

Phil (Iscoyd Park): Pre-pandemic we used to have one wedding coordinator looking after the same couple from show round to wedding day whenever possible. This has been impossible to maintain with staff changes, countless postponements and so on. The reason we did this was to provide consistency to our clients. Hostology means that any of our team can answer a call from a client and know all about their wedding, or indeed pick-up a planning meeting, take over the planning / coordinating process at any point along the way, at the same time always maintaining continuity.

What features of Hostology are you finding most useful in helping you manage a busy 2022?

Joshua (Wasing Estate): The flexible food selection, which enables real time updates with a cut off before the event. This will save huge amounts of time.

Samantha (Dewsall Court): I love that there is a central place for all information where each ‘interested party’ can log in to their dashboard and interact with the planning. To think that a guest can RSVP with their dietary requirements, which is then automatically communicated with the venue is incredible. And that very soon the couple will be able to create a table plan with a ‘drag and drop’ facility enabling all individual guest requirements (high chair for baby, gluten free etc) to be automatically updated onto the table plan without some laborious cross referencing is SUCH A JOY!

It is a major game changer and a major time saver which is therefore a major money saver! Where has this been all my (working) life!? Haha!

Harry (Pennard House): Shared event dashboard – so everyone can see the plans evolving, any incoming messages and requests etc. Giving the couple access to planning tools so they can assign accommodation also saves so much time…

Phil (Iscoyd Park): The team are excited about many of the aspects – the room booking system has changed our lives! It saves so much time and the couples and guests love it – no more embarrassing moments for the couples asking their guests to pay for their rooms, we do that for them – by taking the rooms out of the venue hire and having the mechanism in place for the guests to pay separately has meant the couples pay less for the venue themselves. We are successfully able to upsell to guests in a way that was not possible before – selling the campaign for their room etc.

Another small thing, but so useful, is having a picture of our couple, so everyone knows exactly who the couple are before they arrive and all our staff greet the correct people properly.

Sharing the dashboard with the couple is great and means that there is a lot less repeat admin, again saving us all time. It is a brilliant way of collecting the dietary requirements and sorting out the table plans, and getting that vital information out to the team. It also helps us with the dull but essential compliance communication with suppliers, helping to collect the necessary documents.

Hostology is continually updating its features in line with venue requirements, what features are you most looking forward to getting out of the door?

Emma, CEO + Co-Founder of Hostology: There’s so much going on in the product team that it’s sometimes hard to keep track! We talk to venues daily and are obsessed with listening hard to their suggestions and prioritising their delivery. Not always as quickly as they want (!) but our engineering team are definitely led by our venues’ needs.

It’s worth mentioning that Hostology is pretty unique in that every feature is built to allow permissions to be set to share data across all four portals, as required – venues, hosts, guests and suppliers. So it’s no mean feat pushing new features out of the door.

I’m personally very excited to see table plans coming together, as well as a new automated workflow scheduler for the venue team, which we know will save so much time.

And looking into early next year, we are working hard to add-in lead management, estimations (with venue hire, add-ons) and billing to the venue and host experience. It is going to be a game-changer for so many venues that we know are waiting (patiently?) for it.

50% Off Hostology!

After an initial 30-day free trial – use the Promo code HOSTOLOGY21 for 50% off a 3 month membership.

The Hostology Platform is an Event Management Software designed from an insider’s perspective, streamlining collaboration between your team, suppliers and guests. We’re experienced hosts empowering fellow venues to exceed the expectations of today’s sophisticated clients.

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