26 Sep Interview with Lisa Hatswell – Managing Director at Unique Venues of London
You have been involved with UVL for over two decades, how have you seen it change in this time?
Unique Venues of London has grown considerably since it was established in 1993. We began as a membership organisation of 18 unique and specialist properties within the capital, and now have 88 member venues from across the industry. In addition to growing in membership, we have grown the provision within our membership to include being a part of a comprehensive programme of events, major national and international trade exhibitions and sector training courses. However despite our growth, the one thing that we haven’t changed is our reputation for excellence.
What does your day-to-day role involve?
My day-to-day role involves liaising with our venues in regard to event enquiries, keeping up to date with venue activities and scouting potential new members.
Quite often I can be found at trade shows and exhibitions, meeting new people and receiving the latest news in the events industry.
UVL encompasses so many special venues, do you have a favourite?
Picking a favourite venue would be like picking one’s favourite child! All our member venues are very special in their own way. From palaces to museums and art galleries to historic institutions, the options for event hire are endless, and each one is steeped in history and culture.
What do you look for when selecting a Unique Venue of London?
All Unique Venues of London member venues must be located within the M25 and demonstrate the singularity of their venue. Furthermore, the venue must not be one whose primary purpose is hospitality, corporate hospitality, entertaining, catering events, meetings or conferences. This includes hotels, restaurants, theme parks, retail outlets and town halls.
UVL is a labour of love, where would you like to take it in the future?
I would love to see the membership continue to grow as there are hundreds of unique locations around London many don’t know can be hired for events. A growing membership also means more benevolent work can be funded through event hire, with the revenue being fed back into the cultural heritage of the capital.
What are the benefits of hiring a space within a Unique Venues of London member venue for an event?
Often events such as meetings and conferences, for example, are held in boardrooms, and weddings and parties in hotels. By hosting an event in a landmark or heritage venue, you open the door to a world of opportunities, and have the chance to wow and engage your guests in ways that have never before been done.
It is also worth mentioning that events held in these settings help to sustain the venues for present and future generations to enjoy. It allows them to actively give back to the community in a variety of ways.
Twilight Trees have lit up many Unique Venues of London. Why do you think they work so well in often historical buildings?
Twilight Trees work well in historical buildings because they add a touch of romance and elegance to an already classic setting. A Twilight Tree is also an ideal statement piece for any kind of event, simpler to manoeuvre in a historic venue, which requires the set-up be handled in a delicate manner.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy finding venue solutions for clients that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered for their event, and surpassing their expectations with something new and extraordinary. I also love the fact that I have the opportunity to meet so many different people, from the venue teams and event coordinators, to the wide range of suppliers we work with on a daily basis.
What do you see as the future of the events industry?
I think technology will play a major role in the future of the events industry. Innovations such as AI and virtual reality will become part and parcel of almost any gathering.
The events industry is already growing at a staggering rate, and I believe it will continue to grow and become more creative in an increasingly digital world.
We’ve also witnessed a rise in tech conferences held at unique venues, which often require advanced equipment and high-speed Internet; even heritage buildings are finding ways to adapt to these changes as we observe a growing blend of the traditional and the modern.