116 Pall Mall recently held its second highly successful collaborative marketing event.

116 Pall Mall is one of many prestigious and iconic buildings that – along with their primary function, whether it’s a museum, members club or historic building – can also be hired out for corporate events, parties, meetings, filming and everything in between.

How to promote a venue in a marketplace as competitive and crowded as London.  How much noise can one venue make on its own? How can we increase our pulling power to potential clients, and make ourselves noticed?

When we re-branded 116 Pall Mall in the summer of the 2018, we quickly realised that there is huge demand and enthusiasm for new event spaces, but that the market is very saturated making it difficult to be noticed, even by those looking for what we offer.

The lightbulb moment for us here at 116 Pall Mall was the first collaborative event we held in 2018.  Working with organisations such as the Westminster Venue Collection, we were able to grow a strong network of likeminded neighbouring venues. Being part of the Collection allows us to regularly meet up with our peers and colleagues in hospitality to exchange views and share ideas, one of which lead to the Venue Safari.

Powerful digital platforms have made access to and information about venues across the world available at the click of a mouse.  So how do we stand out from the crowd? We think the key is ‘personal knowledge’ and how can we educate our market?

Collectively, we understood that it is difficult for agents and clients to arrange a time to visit individual venues and it would be more beneficial for us to work together. By weight of numbers we would be on agents’ and clients’ ‘must visit’ lists, and when it came to representing ourselves, a broader outreach using our collective data would be of benefit.

Of course, we are vying with each other to attract new business, but it was from one of those meetings that we hatched a concept that would see us join forces with The Royal Society, Prince Philip House, and 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, and this became known as a Venue Safari.

Michael McGowan, Sales and Marketing Manager for Prince Philip House explains that “the idea came about as we saw an opportunity to bring clients and agents to our venues but not have to travel back and forth from all over the country.”

“It meant we could provide a unique, one-off event which enabled guests to visit all of the venues across one timeframe. The obvious benefit for us was introducing new clients and agencies to Prince Philip House.”

One size does not fit all. Collaborative working doesn’t suit all businesses, but we know that when looking through the eyes of the customer – no venue is the same and not every venue will suit their requirements. Working together and referring a venue that might be more suitable for the client means they are more likely to return for another event in the future. We also know that our neighbouring venues will return the referral favour, making this collaborative approach to working a benefit for everyone.

The second of our Venue Safaris was held in August in collaboration with The Royal Society and Prince Phillip House, both situated on the stunning John Nash designed Carlton House Terrace.

The itinerary saw a handpicked group of agents and clients begin their evening with drinks and an interactive starter at 116 Pall Mall, they then crossed Waterloo Place for a main course at the Royal Society and finished with an eye-catching dessert ‘tree’ at Prince Philip House, created by teams of in-house chefs across the venues.

In each venue, the guests were given a tour of the building, learnt a bit of history and saw the variety of rooms available for different events, giving Venue Safari guests a chance to consider options for future bookings.

Barbara Wutte, Head of Conferences at The Royal Society “We are always working on a regular basis with our neighbours on joint marketing ventures. But this time around the idea was to invite a small and selected group of guests, so you can talk to them personally and give everybody a memorable experience.

“The agents brought guests from a major insurer and a large construction company. They were blue chip organisations and since then we’ve already had quite a few enquiries about using the building for future events.”

Also located on Carlton House Terrace is Prince Philip House, a Grade I Listed Building that is home to the Royal Academy of Engineering, which was founded in June 1976 by 126 of Britain’s leading engineers with the support of HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Such was the success of Venue Safari, that we are planning to stage a similar event in January. It is certainly a different approach to marketing a venue but one that has paid off for everyone involved.

As McGowan says, “The relationships between each of our venues is very important. We can offer something a little different to clients and agencies when they attend a safari.”