About us

Academic Venue Solutions is a not-for-profit marketing consortium.

Founded in 1981 as HEAC the Venuemasters name was introduced in 2001. Our mission is to help member venues to identify and maximise their commercial opportunities, by working collaboratively and strategically. Our vision is to be the leading collection of academic venues, connecting event organisers with unique meeting spaces and learning environments across the UK.

Membership of Academic Venue Solutions is open to all types of academic venues, anywhere in the UK. We currently have more than 40 venues on our books and we’re proud of the variety of high quality meeting spaces and hotel-standard accommodation that our members offer.

Our team, led by Rachael Bartlett, works directly with the member venues and event organisers to build relationships and understand their needs and requirements. The result is a free venue-finding service, matching event planners with a list of specialist academic venues that can help.

Our Board, chaired by Steve Crawford, includes hospitality industry specialists and senior operations managers, as well as marketing and events experts. They have a profound understanding of both the needs and requirements of event planners, and the challenges the Higher Education sector faces in the commercial marketplace.

The AVS team and contact details

  • Rachael Bartlett – Membership and Sales Director,  Get in touch with Rachael for membership and sales opportunities – rachael@academicvenuesolutions.co.uk and mobile 07377 553922
  • Jodie Fear – Venue Finder, Get in touch with Jodie for Enquiry, Sales and Referral requests  - jodie@academicvenuesolutions.co.uk / 0114 2453423 Option 1 for enquiries
  • Judi Oliver – Proactive Sales/Venue Finder, Get in touch with Judi for support with Proactive Sales and Enquiry System requests -  judi@academicvenuesolutions.co.uk
  • Caroline Cockell – Digital Marketing Consultant Get in touch with Caroline for updating your offers, news and venue information on the website, eMarketing – email Caroline on caroline@academicvenuesolutions.co.uk
  • Christine Page – Exhibitions and Events Consultant.  Get in touch with Christine for information on the Annual Conference, Academic Venue Show and Exhibitions – email Christine on christine@academicvenuesolutions.co.uk
  • Mandy Jennings – Board Director &  Paje Team Managing Director, Get in touch with Mandy for any questions for the Board or future focus of AVS – mandy@academicvenuesolutions.co.uk

Rachael Bartlett - Membership and Sales Director

"After enjoying a career in conference centres and hotels I was fortunate enough to join Warwick Conferences, part of the University of Warwick, in 2008 as Head of Sales and Marketing. It was an exciting time taking a team from 20 to 30 strong and increasing our activities in proactive sales and marketing as a priority.

Operating in a University landscape teaches you skills such as resilience and tenacity, as often the decisions you want to make commercially are not in line with what is known in the sector as ‘the greater good.’ Having spent 10 years generating over £23m for the University I could not have been more proud of the success the team achieved, often in the face of adversity! There is no more rewarding yet frustrating environment to work in which enables me to empathise with my peers and colleagues across the sector.

Academic Venue Solutions affords me the luxury of working with many institutions of varying size and nature and enables us to look for new opportunities to raise our member venues profile and most of all to retain business within the sector."

Jodie Fear – Venue Finder

Life in events began for me as a venue finder in a Berkshire agency. Following my experience here  I gained a promotion to the sole agent working on the Vodafone account for Initial Style Conferences. I was booking in excess of 90 events a week enjoying the thrill of juggling both large and small events alike. I worked my way up to Business Development Manager for the South West with the Sundial Group  and then gained a promotion to Director of Sales South West for Principal Hayley. Before joining AVS I was Director of Sales and Marketing for Hand Picked hotels in Bath. Events run through my veins, having experience from the bookers perspective and that of the venue, making this the perfect match for my role at AVS.

Caroline Cockell - Digital Marketing Consultant

"I am delighted to be working with AVS to build the digital marketing profile of the organisation and members. I have more than 15 years experience working as a marketer across a number of sectors including FMCG, travel, retail, and hospitality. 

I have a BA Honors in Marketing, a CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing and hold accreditation as a Chartered Marketer through the CIM.

However, more importantly, I have been involved in marketing at a number of levels from the grassroots up. I understand the ‘doing’ as much as marketing strategy and management. I’ve done everything from proof-reading and copywriting to managing teams and budgets as marketing director. It's great to be bringing these skills to such an exciting and dynamic sector."

Mandy Jennings - AVS Board Director and Managing Director Paje Consultancy Ltd 

For 20 years I had the pleasure of working for some of the highest quality hotel and conference venue groups in the UK including Forte, Le Meridien, and Marriott, with my final 2 positions as Group Sales Director for specialist conference venue groups - De Vere and Principal Hayley.  I loved the challenge of implementing the company sales and marketing strategy and the honour of managing large teams of over 100 sales personnel delivering multi-million-pound revenue targets.  I was also very proud to be an active member with the HBAA (Hotel Booking Agents Association) for 10 years involved in the events and training and finally becoming the Hotel Partners Chairman in 2007.

In 2010 I took on my greatest challenge and set up my own business Paje Consultancy and have never looked back, getting to work with a wide variety of venues, consulting with some amazing academic venues Warwick Conferences, Imago Venues, Lancaster University to name a few,  which is why I am delighted to be involved as a Board Director for Academic Venue Solutions and bring together the team of specialist consultants to provide the membership and enquiry services plus implementing the Learning and Development Academy.

Christine Page – Exhibitions and Events Consultant

With over 30 years in the hospitality industry working with independent four and five-star venues, many with a great emphasis on conference, meetings and events, my introduction to the academic venue arena was in 2010 when I was appointed Head of Sales and Marketing at Conference Aston, Aston University.

My strong commercial acumen enabled me to introduce strategic sales and marketing plans to deliver our financial targets, whilst fully embracing the academic priorities for the University.  Key successes were the successful delivery of summer conferences, English Summer Schools and developing a year-round conference and events business to both the internal and external markets.

Launching my sales and marketing consultancy in 2013, I have worked with numerous academic venues across the country, with a number of strategic commercial projects, mentoring and coaching teams to maximise the business opportunity, and have great empathy for some of the challenges they face.

Working with Academic Venues Solutions to organise exhibitions, networking events and the annual conference enables me to position the consortium strongly within the key market sectors who see to host their events within academic venues, and in addition to bring speakers to networking events who offer key advice as to the challenges that academic venues may face in the future with changing market trends.