by Michael J. Shapiro | January 22, 2020
Event management software provider Aventri is partnering with VenueBook, an event-venue marketplace and platform that provides live inventory and pricing for alternative meeting venues -- restaurants, studio spaces, bars, bowling alleys, museums and more. The tech companies have agreed to integrate VenueBook's booking technology and database with Aventri's Strategic Venue Sourcing platform. That functionality is expected to be available in the second or third quarter this year.

"We believe that really good technology should make it easier to access content, to process faster and be more efficient in the full end-to-end process," says Brad Langley, CITE, vice president of channel and partner management for Aventri, "whether it's small meetings or large events or conferences or trade shows."

While Aventri has long touted the ease of use of its sourcing platform -- and how it can scale down to handle smaller gatherings -- the partnership acknowledges some of the challenges inherent in sourcing small meetings. Specifically, it adds approximately 1,500 "nontraditional" venues to Aventri's 225,000 hotel- and convention center-venue database, and it offers planners the option of eschewing the traditional electronic request-for-proposal process in favor of VenueBook's direct-booking functionality -- speeding up the booking timeline considerably.

Planners will be able to search across all venue types, and should they choose to book an alternative space directly using VenueBook, the handoff would be seamless and the booking data will be retained within the customer's Aventri dashboard. Or, they can add VenueBook options to an eRFP in Aventri's sourcing platform. That level of integration is a key driver for both companies.

"An event planner is looking for something that fits their event," says Kelsey Recht, CEO and founder of VenueBook. "So that could be a hotel, or that could be a unique meeting and event venue. They're going to create a consideration set for the event by looking at all types of venues. That's why searching across all of them at once is really, really important."

VenueBook's database currently covers five metropolitan areas: Chicago, Denver, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Recht says the company has ambitious expansion plans this year, however, and by the end of 2020 "we will cover all the major markets and are also working on a number of sort of secondary, mid-tier markets that are very important for event planners."

VenueBook allows planners to search for space across availability, budget, market and meeting type, and then receive instant quotes by choosing pricing and F&B packages. According to Recht, they can complete 80 percent of the sourcing process in less than 15 minutes.

The platform also allows for customization and additional communication between the planner and venue manager, taking into account factors such as dietary restrictions and A/V requirements. They can then sign a contract and pay the deposit directly through VenueBook's platform.

When combined with Aventri's platform, additional capabilities for those small meetings would include budget management, duty-of-care visibility into employee/attendee whereabouts, communications with other stakeholders, data analytics and reporting.

VenueBook integrates directly with the reservation systems of the venues themselves, streamlining the process for venue salespeople as well as for planners.

"I couldn't be more excited about the shared vision we have with Kelsey and the team at VenueBook," says Langley. "I believe that what we can deliver together to our clients will help them with a growing need they have in today's marketplace, and serve as an innovation that helps them enhance their capabilities as planners."