Anyone who has ever had to plan an event knows how difficult it can be to find the perfect venue: tailored to the type of event, time of day it’s being held, number of guests and who they will be…the list of specifications can go on and on. The best way to find the right venue is usually to see it in person, but when you’ve got a long list of places to see this can become time-consuming.
Looking to provide a solution is Australian startup Venue Insider, which provides venue listings complete with virtual tours to help event planners go about their work quicker.
Professional event planners and marketers Jaime Hall and Nicole Bailey had felt the need for such a solution through the course of their work.
“We became frustrated with wasting time travelling to different locations after spending hours trawling the internet finding amazing venues, only to find that the venue wasn’t at all like the photographs,” Hall explained.
The idea for the Venue Insider solution arose through Hall’s work with a virtual reality startup that created virtual tours and off-the-plan renders for homes; here she saw the possibilities this had for event venues.
“The push came after I was planning my own wedding and spent a full day visiting just two venues because they were on the opposite sides of Melbourne,” she said.
The push to turn the idea into something came through discussions between Hall and Bailey, who then worked to validate the idea.
“We encountered some issues with website developers not listening to us or looking at our well documented and drawn out plans, this dragged our website build out over 10 months. We are continually improving our website now have an in-house developer to continually update our site in line with the company’s direction,” Bailey said.
For venues, the platform works by filling out a listing form on the website, with this detailing all their facilities, accepted event types, and photos. Bailey and Hall then go through applications to approve them, with the venue then able to manage their listing with a login.
Venue Insider then visits all venues to capture the virtual tours, with Hall having learned the process at the VR startup she worked for. The company has also partnered with another Sydney startup creating virtual tours to speed up this process.
A standard listing fee for venues who choose not to have a virtual tour starts at $395. Other packages can include virtual tours and aerial drone photography and videography, with the price tailored for the inclusions.
“Event planners have a different experience when using our platform. Instead of spending days with clients in the search for the perfect venue, they can shortlist after virtually walking through and sometimes even book spaces without having to visit,” Bailey said.
“It also allows them to plan in a three-dimensional aspect. As you can look around from all angles, you get a real feel for the space and can plan seating, bands or anything else you require for your event.”
The launch of Venue Insider comes as a growing number of players in the events space look to boost their tech offering to make it easier for both venues and customers alike to manage the process of booking and hosting events.
Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) in September launched a VR experience that will allow businesses, travellers, and event organisers to virtually scout out the venue through an app. Through a mobile VR headset, users are able to download the app and begin navigating the venue, including its 35,000 square metres of exhibition space and meeting rooms.
During the interactive tour, users will also be able to explore the ICC’s grand ballroom, as well as the venue’s numerous theatres, lower exhibition halls and a balcony view overlooking Darling Harbour. The VR experience was constructed using 360 video, with desktop users able to view still 360 degree images of the tour on the ICC website.
Event management software platform iVvy also offers users the ability to conduct virtual tours through 3600 video and 3D visualisation tools.
“Obviously, there are other venue finding websites available, but we are currently the first and only Australian website that provides high-quality custom built virtual tours for a fully immersive experience,” Hall said.
“Other companies use devices which are not as high quality, this is very important to us. We are also about to make all our virtual tours VR ready so that people can put on a headset and ‘walk around’.”
Having self funded the development of the platform thus far, the cofounders recently opened up their first funding round to help them expand Venue Insider’s list of venues.
Had enough of all the startup buzzwords? So have we. That’s why we’re asking the startups we chat to to send us a video where they pitch their business in a way that’s easy enough for even the most technophobic of grandparents to understand: