Flexible Hen & Stag Group Options

By Judith Rafferty

Is it finally true? Is there really a go-ahead being given to re-start your hen and stag do and your wedding, after the wilderness of lockdown and socially distanced uncertainty?

I hope so for you. And for the thousands of suppliers to the massive UK hen & stag market - the venues, hotels and all sorts of activities.

Plus, the sector specific travel agencies who are experts in this field, like Funktion Events.

I heard their name for the first time and struck my first deal with them back in 2008. They were a relatively new start-up then, introducing themselves to venues and gathering rates.

I worked at one of those venues, a hotel in Manchester. I’d recently been tasked with taking the new hen & stag food packages to market. Perfect timing.

I carved out a niche in third party group bookings with large national high street restaurant and venue brands, including:

  • Pizza Express
  • Café Rouge
  • Bella Italia
  • La Tasca
  • Las Iguanas
  • Strada
  • Grosvenor Casinos
  • Byron Burgers

During these years of dealing with Funktion Events for hen & stag bookings – plus corporate team building and work do’s, too – I got to know the Owner Manager Jay Broughton and his team well.

Judith Rafferty

I loved working with their highly engaged, friendly, well-trained team. We had plenty of good times during site visits, when I invited them to the venues to experience first-hand what they were selling to their clients.

It was great to see a new start-up business stay the course and develop into a well-respected hen and stag agent that gave the ‘big boys’ in the sector a run for their money.

And then the bombshell dropped.

The Impact of Covid-19 On Hen & Stag Experts

The coronavirus we’d been hearing about on the news looked like it was getting a bit more serious everywhere else in the world, including here in the UK.

It’s now history how things started going pear-shaped from February 2020.

I’ve been unable to find any actual figures that represent the monetary loss to the UK hen and stag market.

But I’ve been shocked and deeply saddened to see professional agencies succumb to insolvency and company voluntary arrangements. And I’m not talking about chancers, I’m talking about established, well thought of, thriving businesses that were in very good shape until they were faced with a fight they couldn’t win.

By the end of February 2020 onwards, these agents were faced with having to refund groups who’d been due to travel but couldn’t.

As the pandemic situation evolved, it resulted in an overall loss of well over a year’s worth of bookings, including hundreds of thousands of bookings that agency teams had already worked on for months.

It was double jeopardy that agents found themselves with a rush on their hands to lose money they’d already earned. Or triple jeopardy when factoring in that refunds from the hotels and venues weren’t readily forthcoming on many occasions, due to teams at the hotels and venues already being made redundant or furloughed.

Thankfully Funktion Events have remained afloat for what I believe is a key reason.

How Early Adopters Of Virtual Event Options Saved Their Skins

I’ve dealt with every big, small and in-between sized hen do agency in the UK over the years.

When I started doing business with Funktion there was one thing that really set them apart from the rest. Their corporate events.

It wasn’t unusual for agents to say they did workplace events. Many had corporate events splashed across their websites. But it was usually smoke and mirrors, which makes sense when you think about how many events agencies there are. Why would corporate bookers use a hen and stag agent instead?

From the onset Funktion Events had managed to appeal to both very different sectors. They’d already built up a solid time-served reputation for events that had eluded their competitors.

Looking back to mid-2020 nobody knew what the uptake for virtual team events would be in the corporate market. Or if it would even be worthwhile investing the time and money in new event technology, if life was going to start getting back to normal in the near future.

It must have been a gamble for FE. I’m delighted it paid off for them.

During the 2020 Christmas party season they facilitated 6,500 party people at virtual events of all sizes from 6 – 240 revellers.  See all the stats on their virtual Christmas Party industry trends report for 2020.

Their most popular virtual Christmas party activities were -

  • Cocktail classes
  • Quiz challenge
  • Escape rooms
  • Chocolate making

A Back-Up Plan for Every Hen And Stag

Now, with 21st June circled on everybody’s calendar as our ‘Independence Day’ you might be cautiously optimistic about pressing ahead with your hen or stag celebrations and your wedding.

Funktion Events offers a brilliantly varied range of activities for hen and stag weekends to suit different personal tastes and pockets –

Active - Exert some adrenaline-pumping energy and flex your competitive muscles with    quad biking, paint balling, off-road driving, zip wire, go-karting and It’s A Knockout.

Creative - Nurture your naughty or nice creativity with hen life drawing classes to making your own jewellery, knickers, flapper headbands and flower crowns, and chocolate.

Dance - Shuffle those feet, wiggle those hips and strike your best poses when you’re learning a spices girl hen do, the zombie routine from the Thriller video, Strictly style or cheerleading.

Food - Whet your whistles with bottomless brunches, afternoon teas and dinner/drinks packages at high street brands where you know what you’re going to be getting.

Nightlife - Make it a night to remember with admission to hen and stag friendly venues, or upgrade to higher-level VIP packages with reserved areas and premium drinks.

So, go wild with your planning. You deserve it. It’s going to be extra exciting for you after the past unusual year.

I don’t want to sound like a doom and gloom merchant. But hold this though in the back of your mind…

If things don’t go to plan at all or only partially to plan, you’re in very safe hands with Funktion. They’ve already proved it’s possible to pluck virtual victory from the jaws of defeat during the pandemic.

It’s a safety net well worth having in the absence of a crystal ball to predict how our ongoing journey to the new normal is going to look.

By Judith Rafferty, Fruition Copywriting


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