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VEI Alumni Stories: A venue perspective from Marina Papadopoulou

In this new blog series, we will speak to one of our VEI alumni to hear their thoughts on our certification training program and how they are implementing their learnings day to day, plus their top tips and experiences.

Marina Papadopoulou of Church House Westminster

In the spotlight this week is Marina Papadopoulou, business development manager of London-based venue Church House Westminster.

Papadopoulou recently became a certified VEIP – Virtual Events Institue Professional – after completing our on-demand course. Why did she choose the program? And how has it helped? Here’s her story...

What attracted you to the VEI course?

It came at the right time. As a venue, we wanted to work on something totally different. We could see live events were going to struggle for a while and conversations about hybrid were beginning.

With the pandemic and its transformative impact on the industry, I realized that this is the time to ‘unlearn what we have learned’. Events are evolving as we reset for the future.

As a venue, we are facing reduced event sizes on-site, but expectations have increased. As event professionals, I feel we have a responsibility to engage digital technologies. How else can we build the next normal of events?

How has the program helped you?

The program has been instrumental in helping me to learn new and relevant digital skills and has given me the confidence to engage with tech and events.

Industry colleagues and business development professionals from other venues have contacted me via LinkedIn to ask about the course and I have recommended it for a number of reasons. From a venue perspective, it has created a great opportunity to open the door to conversations with clients. With such a solid foundation of knowledge, I can now also offer them guidance and expertise. Many clients aren’t experts in this area and expect this knowledge from a venue. If we can guide our clients through the process, we can build trust and strong relationships.

It’s not only about new business though. We are upskilling ourselves. The event landscape has changed. The competition has changed. We all need to understand the market as it is now, as well as the potential for new opportunities and partnerships.

How have you used your new knowledge so far?

As a venue, we quickly adapted our hybrid and virtual formats in 2020 and, working collaboratively with our in-house audio-visual and production team, we have invested in tech solutions, a virtual studio, a podcast studio, newly designed hybrid offerings, and virtual team building.

Personally, I have used the knowledge in many conversations with clients and joined a lot of panel discussions on how to create the virtual layer for a venue.

The VEI modules create a really nice path, starting with the basics before covering all the key topics – it really gives you the bigger picture of the future of events.

My favorite modules were on audience engagement and monetization, which I believe are two of the biggest concerns for event organizers.

We recently ran a large hybrid event for around 1,000 attendees, which was broken down into a few hours across several days. We have a number of smaller virtual events in the pipeline, too. The course will be invaluable for developing these types of opportunities. Face-to-face events will return, but a virtual element will complement them. This is where hybrid events combine the best of both worlds.


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