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2-Minute Interview with Nick Hoare, Chief Operating Officer at etc.venues, inspired by an interview series from our friends at Flemming Hansen.

Nick shares his thoughts on handling the current situation.

What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?

We all recognise that Zoom/Teams/Skype have kept businesses together when they can't be together, but it's been a short-term fix. To adapt we need to bring the best elements of virtual and face-to-face events together. That is why we are working with the virtual platform provider Glisser to become the experts in Hybrid Events.

In the coming months a number of our existing customers are making the transition to Hybrid Events because it can seriously boost attendance. Hybrid is here to stay and we aim to lead the way.

What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?

The safety and security of our teams and our clients when we reopen our venues. Evolving our offering is a weekly challenge as new guidelines and advice is released. We have developed an 18-point plan that sets out the upgrades we're making so our team can return safely and our clients can book their next meeting of event with total confidence.

Best thing about working from home/remotely?

I have really enjoyed being able to see more of my children during the day and especially putting them to bed. They have even made an appearance on a few video conference calls which caught me off guard!

Worst thing about working from home/remotely?

Lack of connectivity. I am a people person and I miss being physically in the venues, meeting clients and suppliers. We have a new floor at 133 Houndsditch under construction and managing this remotely is difficult. Thankfully, our contractors have worked with us for over 15 years so know how high we set the bar.

What has flexible/remote working taught the business? Is it possible to work this way?

We recently conducted a survey asking 7,000 of our clients their thoughts regarding virtual meetings. Overwhelmingly, 77% of them, favoured a return to face-to-face meetings. What this whole experience of remote working has taught us is that virtual reality is good but actual reality is far better. 

It demonstrates that organisations can work more flexibly using the technology available, but not in isolation.

What change are you most likely to keep and what will you definitely not continue, post lockdown?

I have done a lot more running during lockdown as I can't play many other sports... I will try to keep up the running...

At weekends, we have tried to occupy the children with gardening and washing the car - happy to let both of these past-times slide.

Who or what has inspired you this week? 

We live opposite a family, where the mother is a respiratory nurse in an ICU in a hospital nearby. Every Thursday at 8pm we come out to clap for amazing people like her.

Best program/film you watched on TV/streaming this week?

Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates on Netflix. I think he is an amazing man who thinks "Macro", developing world sanitation, polio eradication and safe nuclear power. He also flagged the danger of a viral pandemic in a TEDTalk way back in 2015.

Any words of wisdom?

Whilst the future looks uncertain and challenging, we are moving forwards confidently. We are a resourceful business and as the saying goes "necessity is the mother of invention". etc.venues is well positioned to accelerate out of this and remain the leader in this space.

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