Understanding excellence and exceeding expectations in challenging times

Make Venues, our venue group operates in three UK locations: London, Leamington Spa, and Bristol. Understanding excellence and exceeding expectations, especially in quality experiences, is crucial to our business, especially now. Our main goal is to maintain excellence and surpass expectations.

We’ve focused on this area long before the coronavirus reached our shores. Reflecting on our past, we celebrate winning two awards from BVA BDRC for seven consecutive years. Commitment to this area is ongoing, as we adapt our business to a world where customers need assurance of safety and quality for an exceptional experience.

A period of reflection

The unexpected closure this year brought unforeseen consequences. Our response was to use this time to reflect on our business. The aim was to emerge from lockdown as a more robust, efficient new company, ready for the challenges ahead. This reflection period reaffirmed our focus: maintaining service levels, understanding excellence, and exceeding expectations.

As we endeavour to provide services that surpass expectations in customer service, food and beverage, event delivery, and venue quality across our three UK venues, we constantly ask ourselves, ‘What defines quality in today’s world?’

It’s this thinking that has formed the basis of our new white paper entitled ‘Understanding Excellence’. In it, we take inspiration from a range of brands, sectors and individuals in the world of service, excellence and expertise.  From glasses retailer Warby Parker to SouthWest Airlines and Lyft we have found examples of truly exceptional service to share our learnings and help others to ensure their customer experiences do not wane when they’re likely to be scrutinised the most.

Engaging with customers

Our philosophy centres on our customers’ experiences. We don’t presume to define great service for them. Instead, we collaborate to meet their demands and use our expertise to surpass them. Success in understanding and exceeding expectations hinges on how well we engage and understand our customers’ needs.

We recognize we cannot mandate exceptional service from our staff. We create an environment where they feel valued and rewarded for exceeding expectations, encouraging authenticity rather than a robotic approach. The report highlights a key insight: brands that express their personality are the ones that excel, not just those delivering on excellence.

However, achieving results doesn’t mean complacency. Continuous improvement is essential, and it involves honest self-assessment and actively seeking customer feedback. Business excellence is a never-ending journey without a final destination.

Notions of excellence

Our report delves into the diverse aspects of ‘excellence’ and the paths to achieving it. It examines the interplay between brilliance and essential factors like purpose. In the events industry, we specifically look at how innovative customer service and creative event formats contribute.

In a time when standing out and emphasizing added value is crucial, we aim to enrich the conversation on delivering quality. This is particularly important when the focus is diverted elsewhere. Our insights on maintaining excellence are meant to elevate this dialogue.

The report can be downloaded in full here.

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David Vaughton is Managing Director of Make Venues, a group of three multi-award winning venues including Woodland Grange in Leamington Spa, Broadway House in Westminster and Engineers’ House in Bristol.

David is a modern business leader, passionate about recognising and developing young talent and giving them a grounding and pathway in the industry. Equally, in his time at Make Venues, David has ‘re-made’ the business on a number of occasions as part of its continual ambition for consistent and high-level growth. These re-inventions have involved the implementation of change management programmes with staff, as they adapt to new structures and objectives within the business.

This agility in business has been achieved on the back of over 30 years of senior management experience in Hotels, Conference Centres and Stadia. The last 15 years has seen him establish the Make Venues group as one of the most respected and high performing meetings and events brands in the venues sector.

The group’s reputation has been built on a solid base of customer service excellence which has seen the group win the ‘best small group’ and ‘best value group’ accolades in the BVA BDRC Venue Verdict scheme for the last seven years. In fact, service excellence has been one of the key passion projects for David; throughout his career, constantly looking to understand how to turn good service into great and providing coaching and mentoring to staff at every level of the business. As part of this, David has been heavily involved with Venues of Excellence over the last 15 years having served as a board director, vice-chair and Chairman.

David is also passionate about food and wellbeing, both through his roots as a chef in his early career, and also as a committed and regular runner. Within Make Venues he oversaw the creation of wellbeing ‘champions’ in each of the venues and remains committed to making small but positive impacts on the guests across the venue group, by offering them sustainable, locally sourced and tasty food. This is a hallmark of what makes Make Venues the business it is.