As we approach the end of what has been a remarkable 2014, VenueHub.hk production/content manager Malcolm has penned his reflections on the year past and what he sees happening for the company’s various stakeholders in 2015…
It's been hugely exciting to be part of VenueHub's growth and development over the past 12 months. I feel that as a team we've learned an incredible amount about how to optimise our product for our user base, clients and the marketplace that we're in, and as a result we're now in a great position to take our service to the next level.
The revamped www.venuehub.hk website which we'll be launching shortly is a tremendous source of excitement for our team. The current website has served us well to date, but the new platform will ultimately add much-improved usability and greater value to our website users, venue clients and our own management. Followers of our blog, e-newsletter and social media feeds will hear more details about site features and launch dates very soon, but here's a quick rundown of some of the key features to expect:
- Full mobile responsiveness
- Multi-venue "shopping cart style" enquiry system
- More venue information, including detailed pricing info
- Improved search, filter and sort functionality
- Gorgeous new interface with larger, immersive images and fonts
After what was a slow start to 2014 in terms of our key metrics, strong growth has occurred in overall site traffic and the total number of event bookings as a result. We're continuing to work hard on increasing visitor numbers through the site, and recent changes to Google's algorithm have been monitored closely. We're hugely optimistic at the effect that the new website will have on organic traffic and on-site conversions – having a blank slate means that the site's architecture, underlying code and metadata can be revised so as to conform to Google's current standards as closely as possible. We'll also be looking to develop strategic partnerships that will help generate more site traffic through referrals.
An incredibly wide spectrum of event bookings has come through the site in 2014 - from small, intimate gatherings to major Christmas party bookings for huge multinational brands. We've also received a large volume of wedding bookings. It's a genuinely thrilling part of the job to see all these types of events come through our system – it is of course our bread and butter as a company but it's still so enjoyable making these connections nonetheless.
It's also been brilliant to have such a wide variety of venues come on board, often through potential clients approaching us directly asking to be listed. Given that there are so many different types of event booked through VenueHub, it's important for us to provide a wide range of venue options to cater to all event requirements and budgets. Although of course we value all of our venue clients, one of our aims is to identify and promote new spaces which the general public may not have previously considered or known about when booking venues. In this way, VenueHub is essentially creating a whole new marketplace which has previously been untapped.
VenueHub is very much part of the "shared economy" - in the same way that AirBnB has allowed home owners to monetize the asset that is a spare bed, we expect that a similar thing will happen with owners of large, unused (or underused) spaces in urban areas. A derelict warehouse to one person may sound like somewhere to avoid, but to an underground gig promoter or brand manager looking for a gritty location to shoot an edgy new product - it could be the dream venue that they've been praying for!
Along similar lines, the rise of the "unique" venue space has been clear to see. There will of course always be a market for more conventional venue bookings, but some of our clients have done particular well because they offer something entirely different - be it an interesting setting or an interactive "hands-on" concept. Because of this trend, the new site will aggregate these venues into a new top-level "Unique" listings category.
JetOne Motion in Central – A unique venue based around the driving simulator concept.
The popularity of these venues is increasing as party-goers looks for new event experiences.
As the man in charge of VenueHub's 720° virtual tours - a core part of our offering to clients - we've seen some amazing locations shot by the hugely-talented
Stefan Irvine. I wouldn't want to pick any favourites, but once again the variety and quality of spaces going on the site has been a joy to behold. It's clear to me that the virtual tour format remains THE most effective way of showcasing an event space in its full glory. If you're not convinced, check out some of the VTs on the site and see for yourself!
Just recently, VenueHub has been admitted to the prestigious Cyberport Incubation Programme. The resources that the programme offers will help us to hire new personnel, invest further in support services and continue to improve the website and user experience. It'll be great to be part of Cyberport's ecosystem in what is an exciting time for the tech industry in HK. Things have certainly come a long way since the inaugural Startup Saturday conference at Cyberport which I attended way back in 2010 – back then there were a mere handful of co-work spaces in the city - now entrepreneurs really are spoilt for choice here. It's all been really good to see.
If 2014 has been a year of refining the product for our users and laying the metaphorical foundations, I can certainly say that 2015 promises to be the year when VenueHub really starts to scale up exponentially and kick on in terms of our user base, venue portfolio and other key metrics. I personally cannot wait to continue the journey - I hope you'll join us!
For all enquiries, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]