Teamwork to bring in the visitors

Left to right: Heather MacBrairdy, Horizon Leeds; Rebecca Hutchinson, The Leeds Club; Alan Gallacher, Northern Ballet and Julian Kettleborough, The Studio.
Left to right: Heather MacBrairdy, Horizon Leeds; Rebecca Hutchinson, The Leeds Club; Alan Gallacher, Northern Ballet and Julian Kettleborough, The Studio.
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Four independent venues are coming together as part of a strategic collaboration to boost visitor numbers and increase dwell time in Leeds.

The Leeds Club, The Studio, Horizon and Northern Ballet have agreed to redirect any enquiries, that they are unable to convert into bookings, to each other.

Rebecca Hutchinson, sales manager at Leeds Club, helped come up with the idea for the organisation. She said the idea came as a result of established venues like The Leeds Club wanting to see what “new kids on the block” such as The Studio and Horizon were doing.

Ms Hutchinson told The Yorkshire Post: “There was an interest in seeing each others venues, seeing what else is in the city. What our clients might also be looking at.

“The four of us realised how different we all are. One day we just said we’re so different we wonder if there’s a way we can help each other out.

“We’re still competing for business, but if we can’t do it or if a customer wants a more modern venue then why shouldn’t we try and help each other out a little bit. As another independent venue we understand each other’s struggles.”

The sales manager of The Leeds Club said formation of this collective was “spontaneous”. The four venues are hoping to increase the dwell time in the city by bringing together their different offers for companies looking at multi-day conferences.

“There’s an awful lot to do in the city,” Ms Hutchinson said. “When we speak to companies who want to book conferencing, they are interested in other offering. For example Northern Ballet has got the ballet it’s not just a venue. We’re hoping our advertising will draw in longer-stay conferences.”

She added that there was further scope for collaboration and the organisation is open to the idea of welcoming other independent venues into the fold as well.

“This is just the beginning. We’re going to meet up regularly and we want to hit the road with our collaboration,” Ms Hutchinson said.

There is a worry that by collaborating with other venues and sending customers to what is effectively a rival firm could lead to a loss of business, says Ms Hutchinson.

“I’d love the business to come to our venue over anybody else’s. It might be that we send them to one of the other venues and they really like it and they won’t consider The Leeds Club again,” she said.

But Ms Hutchinson hopes by collaborating with the other three businesses, The Leeds Club will be able to build a good relationship with the customer – who will turn to them next time they are looking for a venue again.

Ms Hutchinson said it was “a little bit harder in every sense” for independent businesses compared to larger chains. But by working together independent venues can ensure business stays in Leeds.