What’s is like being the Director of a boutique events agency, and what makes Bien Venue special? As 2018 begins to wrap up, we sat down with our Director, Sam Elliott, to get some insight into the company’s past, present and future.
A quick one to start: Describe Bien Venue in 3 words!
Personal, Collaborative, Innovative.
How did you come to set up Bien Venue Events?
As one famous business person once said (Victor Kiam of Remington) I was working for Bien Venue and I liked the company so much I bought it! It was being in the right place at the right time really, which is how many great things happen in life. I joined Bien Venue in 2006, and was given the opportunity to purchase the business in 2008. Since then I’ve never looked back.
Bien Venue was established in 1996, has the company changed and grown in the past 22 years?
From 1996 to now it’s unrecognisable! Bien Venue started as the smallest of small businesses, with just two team members and very few clients, working out of a small office. We now have 25 staff, many more clients, and we keep outgrowing our office space as we expand to service our clients.
In that time, we have also changed in what we are able to offer clients, expanding the range of services we offer, which has been instrumental in helping us win business from large corporate clients who want a ‘one stop’ comprehensive service. As we have grown we have also been able to build much stronger purchasing relationships with venue partners which really helps in in being able to provide more cost effective solutions for clients.
As you would expect, our use of technology has changed vastly over the past 22 years too. Innovative tech in all aspects of our work has provided a more efficient service. One particular aspect to this is providing meaningful and timely data for clients. Those we work with appreciate the transparency we offer in terms of their control over venue and meeting space spend, and this keeps evolving.
I’m pleased to say that in all that time one thing that has not changed is our client-centred ethos. Our approach to clients remains personal, and all our staff pride ourselves on the strength of relationships we build and maintain.
If you had to name a highlight of heading up Bien Venue, what would it be?
I have always believed that strong collaborative relationships were crucial to being able to get along with others and succeed in business. What I am pleased about with Bien Venue is that these things that were so important to me worked in my own business in terms of securing client relationships. So, essentially, I just had stay true to myself and my instincts, and clients liked that as much as did I!
I have also really valued the control I have had over my own time and my life balance. Being Bien Venue’s Director I’ve obviously had a much greater ability to shape this, and I hope this has also shaped how we treat our staff. We are a company that respects work/life balances and accommodate things like flexible working; I’m very proud of that.
So, what is not to like? Spending the time being me, working on relationships, and being so pleased to see how far we have come in the last 22 years!
You’ve said before that you have purposefully kept the business small, why is that?
Yes, that’s true; we have had many opportunities to grow much more quickly than we have done, but I have never wanted to go down that path. What has been important to me, and one of the key values to our clients, is that we retain the personal touch, both for our clients, for the business and for our staff. Companies who grow and get too large often lose that connection, and that would undermine the basis of the core service we offer.
Bien Venue has a lot of high-profile companies as clients – why do you think they choose you?
I think our clients chose us because I was able to offer a promise of something different and new from what they had been used to. They have stayed with us and still do because we were then able to deliver on that promise.
We have proven time and time again that we’re a company that cares, has a personal touch and that continues to innovate. This mean we can deliver a cost effective, efficient service that works for our clients and is the right choice; this is why they stay with us.
As 2018 draws to a close, do you have any focusses or resolutions for the business in the new year?
Unlike most of my personal resolutions which I never keep, for the business it’s really to keep on doing what we do well! Keeping customers happy, keeping staff happy, and continuing to innovate in what we do and how we do it. In the business we now have a great range of experience and skills. Coupled with that we have lots of young people in the business who help us all stay fresh, relevant. As a small business, we’re not afraid to reinvent ourselves where necessary.