Event Venue Expert Advice: How to Pivot into Longevity

There’s age-old wisdom that only the strong survive, but in the ever-changing modern landscape, the true secret to success is pliability. Nothing quite exemplifies the ability to be nimble and rise to new challenges like Hutton Brickyards – a former brick manufacturing facility that has breathed new life as a multidimensional event venue. Now, the bricks that built New York City are building a dynamic hospitality mecca less than two hours from the city in the Hudson River Valley. We spoke with the team at MWest Holdings to better understand how they reimagined a dilapidated, long-abandoned brickyard into a premier venue for everything from concerts and festivals to corporate retreats and intimate weddings.

From the outset, the team behind Hutton Brickyards displayed an incredible ability to be creative and adaptable. When Karl Slovin, president of MWest Holdings, first saw Hutton Brickyards, it was a run-down former brickyard on the Hudson River, but he could clearly picture what it could become. Fast forward to the property’s inaugural events – two sold-out shows headlined by music legend Bob Dylan – and all that foresight paid off. The team that was assembled to spearhead future development of the 76-acre property had to adopt Slovin’s same kind of vision and can-do attitude.

“It’s important to pursue the full potential of the space and the range of potential in a space,” explains Slovin. They weren’t content just being a world-class concert venue; there was more potential to explore. Slovin and his team began imagining other types of events that their space could cater to. They developed a sub-brand for the wedding market, Hutton Brickyards Weddings, and began to develop serviceable collateral to reach this potential market. And they didn’t stop at weddings: Their exploration of new markets extended to fairs, festivals, and corporate events. On the road to becoming a maverick in the event venue space, Slovin’s team discovered some universal truths about building a successful, versatile business.

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Give the People What They Want

“There are many examples of us pivoting and doing something different just because a client requests it,” says Slovin. He and his team are always looking for ways to fulfill requests from clients – no matter how eccentric. They once added rigging for aerial lifts to the ceiling of one of the brickyards’ buildings to accommodate a performance. But don’t worry, not all examples go to that sort of extreme. With 40,000 square feet of event space, there is plenty of room for large concerts or events – but what about more intimate gatherings? “In general, it’s clear that the site caters to large-scale events. But we’ve had a lot of clients ask for a smaller space, so we figured out how to partition the space to accommodate smaller events,” explains Slovin. In his experience, clients can become your biggest advocates when you treat them with deference and respect.

Reach Out to Your Local Network

MWest Holdings has developed properties all over the country, and creating a network in the area surrounding new projects is vital to each property’s longevity. And Hutton Brickyards is no exception, according to Slovin. “Opening the conversation with wedding planners in Hudson Valley and Manhattan, being open to working with area caterers, just being in touch with the people who work with potential clients is important. Those people can recommend us through word of mouth.” Often, the implications of building these relationships within the local business community can result in trusted business relationships and content clients.

Efficiency is the Name of the Game

Time is money, and while every event takes a certain amount of time, it’s crucial for long-term success to not waste valuable resources. A successful business brings together individuals with their own unique skillset and teaches them how to work most efficiently within a pre-existing system. Clear instruction and practice ensure that when it’s game time, showtime, or wedding time, your team is ready to be professional and expedient. “A key component of making a venue successful is making it efficient. You need to make sure everything and everyone can perform with ease,” says Slovin.

Throw Complacency Out the Window

At every opportunity, your business should take time to assess potential areas of growth. Whether you’re looking to reach out to an untapped demographic of consumers or physically adding to the infrastructure of your business, evolution keeps the cash and creativity flowing. Slovin touts an insatiable appetite for growth as one of the differentiators for Hutton Brickyards. “Our site is constantly evolving and improving, year after year, and all of our improvements move us forward,” says Slovin. This year, Slovin and his team will oversee the addition of a more rustic outdoor wedding ceremony site and luxury on-property lodging.

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Thank you for reading. From all of us at Hawthorn Creative, we wish you good health and a positive mindset throughout this challenging time. As always, we’re here to help with anything you or your team may need.

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