Daphne Hoppenot, founder of The Vendry, discusses the ins and outs of building a buzzing online community for event professionals alongside the company's core venue and vendor-sourcing platform.
Daphne Hoppenot founded The Vendry, a venue and vendor-sourcing platform in 2018. In addition to the core product, the company has built a private community for corporate event planners. Hoppenot began her career in the tech industry. She studied engineering at college and spent her twenties working for a software company before founding The Vendry.
Why Visual Portfolios are Important
The visual portfolio of a venue or a vendor’s product can be crucial to their business as it showcases and markets their work to a wider audience. Venues and vendors often tag other suppliers that were part of the event production, which can provide legitimacy and potential recommendations to event planners during their sourcing process. This directed Hoppenot’s initial vision for The Vendry, which began with a visual portfolio approach. By 2019, 5,000 venues and vendors had built out their profiles.
From Content Engine to the Marketplace
There was always a goal to move from a ‘content engine’ full of images and business profiles to a destination for event planners to source various elements for their event production. In the midst of this evolution, the Covid pandemic struck, meaning planners were no longer looking to source venues or vendors for in-person events. Post-pandemic, Hoppenot has returned to developing the marketplace approach, connecting buyers and suppliers.
Pandemic Pivot to Creating a Community
When the pandemic halted their move towards a marketplace approach, The Vendry pivoted to building a community. Hoppenot wanted to help the industry connect, and The Vendry did so by producing webinars, online discussion forums, and newsletters. Whilst we live in a post-pandemic world and in-person events have returned, The Vendry’s free community continues to be engaged and grow monthly. The company’s focus on community has allowed users to discover the brand without a sales pitch.
Why Reviews Are So Challenging
Hoppenot gets constant requests for incorporating venue and vendor reviews on the platform. While this may be desirable for the planners, she has resisted. She believes it would be too challenging for enough people to contribute this type of feedback. The relatively small size of the industry means most planners will avoid talking negatively about another brand. Instead, platform can rely on personal recommendations for others they trust, such as via peer-to-peer discussions within the platform’s community groups.
Planners Don’t Care About AI
AI has been a constant hot topic recently. However, Hoppenot believes it isn’t top of mind for many planners. Where they may take AI into consideration is when selecting a partner in the software industry, such as for their registration platform. It is more important to know that this partner is at the forefront of technology, that you can work with them for a number of years, and that they will be able to meet your evolving needs. Still, knowing that they have a handle on AI and are using it in innovative ways can also be important for planners.