Of event venues and their (in)convenience to journalists and bloggers




Some years back, I got an invite to an event by a South Africa-based mobile phone brand to a venue in Westlands, Nairobi. I spent over 2 hours trying to trace and get myself to the evening function which was being hosted at some (hidden and by then not-so-known) location in Westlands. I later gave up after learning from a colleague that the event had ended, while I was circling around Westlands trying to locate the venue.

Then there are times (and there are many such incidents and experiences) when the media and bloggers are invited and take their time to attend events outside the CBD. Then after spending close to (or over 2 hours) getting to the venue, the formal session takes less than 30 minutes, like a cheque handover session or ribbon-cutting event to formally open a facility.

(TOP: Guests at the launch of the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi recently. Venue of an event determines media and blogger attendance). 

Which got me thinking (and wondering): how do event organisers, PR agencies as well as their clients – in this case, the brands and corporates they represent – pick and choose venues for their various events and what informs those decisions and choices? Is it suitability of location, accessibility, aesthetics available within or the cost of hosting an event at the said venue? Or is it just because the venue and location is new and better marketed or just ‘old boy’ (and ‘girl’) networks at work? And do the event organisers pose to think and consider whether such locations and venues are ideal and accessible to the invited media and bloggers who’re expected to attend and cover such functions?

OK, well, it’s important to know and remember that we’re all different, work for different employers while the unemployed derive their incomes from different sources and therefore have different income levels. There are those who (when invited to events to provide coverage) drive themselves to those locations in their own vehicles, there are those who use company cars, there are those who (can afford to) use taxis (like Uber, Bolt, Little and the rest) while the rest rely on public transport, which in most cases don’t provide the convenience available in the other personalized means of transport.

A post titled ‘The Event Planner’s 7-Step Guide To Increasing Attendance’ published by Weemss states:

“Many factors are in play when looking for the ideal venue. The location has to tick a few boxes. It needs to fit the theme of your event, have enough space for every guest and piece of equipment, or come with kitchen and catering facilities.”

It adds:

“Make no mistake. Some of your guests may come from miles away. And if your event’s value proposition is too irresistible, people from overseas may even opt to attend anyway. But localising your event and choosing a venue that’s accessible for majority of your prospects brings numerous advantages.

For starters, sitting and staying put for hours on end isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Would you be in the mood to tune in to a Q&A or seminar after a sleep-depriving trip? Probably not.

However, an easily accessible location or a venue just a few blocks away may just be the nudge an undecided prospect needs to make up his mind.”

And here now are my own thoughts and suggestions on how to boost media and bloggers’ attendance to your events, (of course in addition to making follow-ups after confirmations with calls and SMS to ascertain attendance):

  1. Just host them within the CBD whenever you can. Many of us come to town and thus having your event in town will see many of us drop by, even if not for coverage but just for curiosity purposes. And again Nairobi’s CBD has so many ideal venues they all can’t be booked on the day you’ve planned your launch (or partner forum).
  2. In case they’re out of town, try and pick a venue which is either accessible via public transport or close to the drop-off stage for attendees using public means. I’m here thinking about venues like like Nailab, The Hub Karen, Safari Park Hotel, Serena Hotel, iHub, Nairobi Garage and the Junction to name but a few.
  3. And finally, in case you’ve no other option but to host your (client’s) event in some in accessible (and even unknown) location or venue, just make transport arrangements to the media and bloggers, picking them to then later dropping them back after the session has ended. Don’t leave them by themselves at the venue to find their way back.

And you’re free to adhere to or ignore the above suggestions for the choice, (like that of event venues), is ultimately yours. Only that you may sooner or later end up with a situation akin to a recent one where an enterprise software vendor from South Africa flew in execs, hosted an event at a venue in Westlands, invited and confirmed media and bloggers for interviews with delegates during the forum. Only that none of the confirmed media reps and bloggers showed up on the event day.

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