At micebook EXPO last month, we caught up with Monica Bewak, director of sales at our host venue Convene, about the London venue and what’s next for the rapidly growing brand…
Tell us more about Convene
Convene was founded in 2009 under the thesis of “what if you ran an office building like a hotel.” So, we began by offering corporate meeting and event spaces infused with beautiful design and elements of five-star hospitality – in 2018 we expanded our product lines to include flexible workspace.
Last year, we opened our first international location at 22 Bishopsgate, London’s newest tower and second tallest building. It was designed to feel like a ‘vertical village’ and is dedicated to wellness, with windows that allow 60% more light into the building than normal glass, and strong sustainable credentials. There’s also the “Market” on the second floor designed specifically for the building tenants, which offers a myriad of food and beverage options from coffee shops and bars to ‘changing street-food style stalls.’
We felt that the building was offering an exciting proposition to its tenants, which fit perfectly with our brand ethos. In fact, 80% of tenants are utilising the in-building Convene offering for their meeting and event needs and have, in turn, been able to take an average of 5% less square-footage for their independent needs.
How does your event space differ from other venues?
We try to replicate the amenities and the look and feel you get in a luxury hotel, which is my background, but within an office building. Unlike many London hotels, which have meeting space within the basement, our spaces have floor to ceiling windows, lots of natural light, and views.
We’re also different to a hotel in that we have our own AV team, which makes a huge difference in terms of how the events flow. The equipment is already in the room, so our clients don’t have to set everything up from scratch of each event.
What really sets Convene apart, and puts us into the premium brand and experience, is the interior design. The spaces are extremely flexible, all the furniture is premium quality and designed for comfort, and we have power points throughout – everything is intentional and purpose-built. We also like to reflect the location into the design at all our venues. For instance, here in London we have lots of arches representing the arches of Bishopsgate, alongside artwork inspired by local artists that include pops of colour and geometric designs.
How’s business and what trends are you seeing right now?
We only opened last May but the first eight months have been incredible. We are quite saturated on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, which are the primary days clients are interested in booking events. This tends to coincide with the days that more people are in the office with Mondays and Fridays being the more popular days for remote working.
However, we are seeing that clients are prioritising booking external events for their clients during mid-week and are more flexible with holding internal events for their own teams on a Monday or Friday. We do many events with tenants in the building, who are given an incentive to book with us.
In terms of the types of events we are seeing, they are mostly full day events, typically with a drinks reception in the evening to add a networking/social element. We also host a lot of two and three-day conferences, with clients taking the entirety of the third floor, and sometimes the fourth floor as well. In December we had a two-week buy out from one client.
Are there plans to expand the Convene brand in the UK and internationally?
It’s been just under a year since we opened our first international location and now we’ve recently completed the acquisition of etc.venues, which adds 16 locations across London, Manchester, Birmingham, and New York City and grows our global portfolio to nearly 40 venues. We also have our sights set on additional expansion opportunities throughout the UK and key European destinations, as well as across the U.S. and into Canada.
What does the acquisition mean for Convene and your clients?
The idea of “future of work” is on everyone’s mind and, at Convene, we believe that meetings play a huge role in what that will look like. With workplace flexibility and hybrid setups becoming the norm, companies are willing to invest in outsourcing the delivery of an elevated experience worth leaving home for. We can do individual work wherever, but high-impact, team-based work requires purpose-built meeting and social event spaces with the tools and amenities that inspire collaboration – that is what Convene specialises in providing, and we are excited to be adding etc.venues to our global portfolio to expand this offering within the UK and New York City markets.
And finally, how has it been hosting micebook EXPO?
We were thrilled to have micebook EXPO here. It was a great opportunity to showcase the venue to lots of potential clients and there was a real buzz throughout the two days. Everyone was happy and excited to be connecting in person and the micebook team were great to work with.