Christopher Lee, co-founder of Venuexplorer, started out wanting to make life easier for event planners when searching for a venue. Now the executive vice president APAC of HotelPlanner & Meetings.com, Lee shares how his venture has led to an invaluable acquisition, and the rise of unusual event spaces.
How did the idea for Venuexplorer come about?
I have been in the events and entertainment business industry since 2005, and have serviced more than 1,000 corporate companies to date.
We started off clinching dinner and dance projects, before slowly moving into other segments such as meetings, conferences, exhibitions, roadshows and weddings. From there, we gained a pool of regular clients who requested for us to manage their yearly calendar projects, (and provide services) ranging from sourcing venues and catering services to entertainment.
At that time, I felt that we had to launch a website that could gather all venues in Singapore under one roof. The site makes it easier for people to search for venues, as opposed to calling up individual venues owners, asking them for quotations, or having to scour the Internet for suitable venues.
How is Venuexplorer different from what’s out there in the market?
We have over 100 event spaces in Singapore including restaurants, banquet halls, conference centres, unique venues like a go-karting circuit, Singapore Turf Club and much more listed. One can search, compare, and instantly book (certain venues) on our platform. If they decide to change the venue, we allow a 24-hour cancellation notice, with full refund and no questions asked.
Should event planners be too busy to search online, they can call our venue experts for a list of suitable venues that match their requirements and budgets.
We also offer a number of other services, such as anger management activities, bungee jumping, or bike riding for corporate travellers, and have partnered with Foodpanda Singapore and Elite Bar Solutions to provide additional support for venues that lack kitchen or bar facilities.
Does Venuexplorer make a conscious effort to bring more unconventional venues like the F1 Karting Circuit into its network?
Yes. We want Venuexplorer to cover all types of venues, so the less conventional ones are very important to us. These venues are those that other platforms will skip, because they don’t have their finger on the pulse of Singapore’s (business events scene) like we do.
So, what does the Singapore client want?
Experiential events as well as (those requiring a dash of) local flair have grown exponentially in recent years. The use of unusual outdoor spaces – such as (under the) Cavenagh Bridge, a portable container and Haji Lane (a chic section within Kampong Glam) – will be one of the key trends for 2020.
Now that HotelPlanner has acquired Venuexplorer, what does this mean for you and your business?
New advances in technology are fuelling the events industry, and we’re confident that HotelPlanner’s booking technology will take us to a whole new level as (a combined) platform for hotels and events booking. It is a win for both parties.
What are your expansion plans for Venuexplorer?
Our target is to increase (our listings in Singapore) to 300 by the end of this year. By 2020, we are hoping to broaden our network in Asia-Pacific to cover the needs of corporates as well as individuals.