Event grills the managers of 2014’s new agencies on the highs and lows through their first year of trading. Our latest instalment features Lisa Upton, director of Inspirational Venues.

Lisa Upton - Inspirational Venues Director














When did you launch your agency and what were your reasons for going it alone?

Inspirational Venue Solutions was launched in May 2014. It all happened within a blink of an eye. I saw an opportunity to turn a new job offer into a sustainable, profitable business and jumped at the chance. In my previous role, I wore many hats. I took on extra projects and challenges to gain more experience within our fast-paced and ever-changing industry. This led to gaining strong experience as an “all-rounder” which is now really paying off.

Which campaigns have been your favourites to work on this year and why?

We have worked on some amazing projects in uncharted waters for the C&I industry. One that springs to mind was when we had three programmes running simultaneously in Myanmar, Vietnam and Bangladesh, with attendees from all over the globe for a five-day residential program in each destination. The programme included bringing together like-minded companies from totally different industries for thought leadership meetings all over the city, a cultural experience and an afternoon NGO volunteer program. Not forgetting, meeting local consumers for lunch in their homes and a walk around a local market. Bringing all of those elements together and working not just on the venue find but also on the event logistics was challenging. The end client was really pleased that they took a chance and chose those outside-the-box destinations.

How successfully did your agency trade in the first year?

With any new start-up, the first year is always a trying period. Giving up that steady monthly paycheque started to hit home around month three or four, which just gave me more drive. I never focus on “if this fails what’s next?” By month five and six we started to see strong gains on the profit and loss, with increased cash flow, great client wins and a positive pipeline of enquiries and prospects. It goes without saying that this is extremely encouraging for a small agency and truly helps us with our plans around scaling the business for further growth. We then started to grow our team in line with our clients’ needs to meet demand and have continued to exceed expectations. We are now working with a number of amazing clients in a variety of destinations, building strong dependable relationships and above all, client loyalty. What were the biggest challenges of the year? The last 10 months have been a roller coaster with thankfully more highs than lows. Learning every aspect of my business, from tax through to technology, and finding the time to do everything was my biggest challenge. I started to lose focus on what we do best and what makes us money. However, I found a solution. Like our clients, when they call on our expertise and services for venue sourcing, I outsource tasks such as accounts, bookkeeping, VAT and tax etc. I know what’s happening and how to do it – but I don’t necessarily have to undertake every task myself.

What have you got coming up this year?

It is proving to be an exciting year so far. I’ve been totally overwhelmed with the support from the industry including our amazing suppliers. We have started working with three new clients and have invested in two areas of technology, which have really benefited us a company: Our hotel booking website, which gives access to the best hotel and accommodation rates anywhere on the internet, and our Event Client Portal, which allows the event planner to search via tube map, postcode or landmark, enquire, book, track and report from one intuitive web-based system.

Do you have any long-term goals, targets and strategies for your agency?

For our second year, we plan to increase our brand awareness, our client base and in turn our team. We are all very excited to see what new opportunities the rest of 2015 brings.