Commercial property owners and developers are challenged with an increasing amount of empty space while the various rates, taxes and upkeep remain constant, if not increasing, on an annual basis. 

In order to utilise this growing empty space, a number of property owners have moved the goal-posts by off-setting expenses and creating a financial return through leasing out various spaces via a third party to the event planner fraternity.

Corporate planners – which form over 65% of the event industry – are constantly attempting to create new experiences for their end-user clients rather than the ‘same-old, same old’ hotel or convention centre facilities.  With unusual, ‘rustic’ spaces, planners can create innovative message retention events in accordance with the brand and theme of the event.  

These unusual venues also allow planners a better bottom-line profit with a larger variety of sub-contractors.

Although this may provide planners with greater choice, especially where the space is similar to a blank canvas (that is, wide open spaces of nothingness), the repercussions can prove significant.

There are specific compliance requirements for spaces of varying square metres dedicated to people gatherings, irrespective of the type of gathering. 

Some of the most serious open-space issues such as office/light commercial/warehouse conversions from an average population of 20 to around 300 capacity are:

*   Inadequate toilets

*   Insufficient standard and emergency access/egress, especially from the above-ground spaces

*   Greater fire hazard with above-ground kitchen/catering facilities

*   Noise levels in proximity to residential areas

The majority of the open-space management of these questionable facilities are not trained within the hospitality or event servicing industry, hence expected procedures together with acceptable rules and regulations are limited. As the corporate planner’s budgets can be regarded as big bottom-line figures, these rogue venues are taking advantage, with planners unaware of the high risks.

Purpose-built and free-standing bona-fide MICE venues conform to a range of compliance and zoning requirements. Makeshift open-space venues should either be on the same page or face the legal consequences.

The MICE Academy’s Professional Planner Standards’ unit will be calling on the legitimate venues as well as the various authorities to either allow non-compliant venues to shape-up or ship-out.

Many of these non-compliant venues are nothing more than ‘accidents waiting to happen’.

As the saying goes ‘it only has to happen once’.   The property owner/developer hiding behind the unsuspecting entity who is leasing the space may plead immunity from responsibility yet could find themselves anything but immune.