For events of any kind, the venue you choose is one of the cornerstones of success. Your choice of venue impacts almost every aspect of the event, so finding just the right venue is not always easy. And sometimes, the usual options such as conference centers and hotels don’t fit the brief at all. Going for a unique or unusual conference venue may be the thing that ties your event together and makes it perfect.
Why Opt for an Unusual Event Venue?
Many annual events happen at the same venue every year or rotate between a small list of different venues. And tradition may demand that they continue doing just that. But if you don’t have tradition to consider, you’re free to choose any venue that suits your purpose. That may mean an unusual or unique event venue fits the bill better than the usual hotel or conference center. What are the advantages of choosing an unusual venue?
Make the Event More Memorable
Successful events are built on memorable experiences. Many conferences, for instance, take place in big hotels because of the convenience of having conference facilities and accommodations in the same place. Convenient, yes, but memorable? Maybe not. Opting for unique conference venues instead of the same hotel can make a conference memorable long after it’s over.
The Venue Is the Décor
At many events, it takes a lot of work to make the space look good. But when you opt for a unique event venue, the venue itself is the backdrop. Pick a location with lots of visual impact built in or panoramic views, and you don’t need to do much more to get it ready for the event.
More Impactful Brand Messaging
If you pick your venue with brand messaging in mind, you can make your marketing work a lot harder, with less input from you. If your venue meshes well with your brand’s values, it can make your messaging more impactful and more sincere. For instance, if sustainability is a core value for your brand, an urban farm might be a suitable choice for team-building activities.
When Does an Unusual Venue Make Sense?
Your choice of venue typically depends on the event itself, including the type of event you’re planning and your objectives. So there are plenty of reasons why a unique event venue might be the best choice.
Your brand: If your brand and messaging are all about being unique and making bold choices, it makes sense to reflect that in your choice of venue. A unique venue should be considered a necessity in this instance.
Your event goal: Some kinds of events just mesh perfectly with the unique attributes of an unusual venue. If you’re holding an event where you want people to think creatively, a conference room at a museum might be a great choice.
Your event audience: Some kinds of audiences will appreciate unusual venues more than others. If you know your audience well, you’ll be able to judge whether they’d prefer a traditional venue or something out of the box.
5 Types of Unique Event Venues
1. Art Galleries and Museums
Art galleries and museums can be perfect for a wide range of events. In fact, many museums now have spaces that are designed for hosting events like banquets, galas, meetings, and conferences.
One major advantage of these spaces is that they offer an opportunity most people won’t otherwise have. Few people ever get to see a museum or gallery after-hours, at a time when the venue isn’t full of crowds of people. And the nature of the space is such that it can offer unique experiences that won’t be available anywhere else. If the venue also offers private tours or lectures to event guests, for instance, this can heighten interest in the event and help increase ticket sales.
From the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium to Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute and even many of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., there are art galleries and museums in virtually every city that offer event spaces of various sizes.
2. Gardens and Farms
From botanic gardens to urban and country farms, outdoor spaces offer something unique for many types of events. They’re great for team-building activities and company picnics, providing plenty of space for large numbers of people. Elegant and picturesque, botanic gardens are perfect for banquet-style outdoor events and corporate parties. See this roundup of more than 90 barns and farm venues across the country for inspiration.
3. Camps and Retreats
These venues offer a both a relaxing setting and the opportunity for challenging and fun physical activity. Camps and retreats are most suitable for team-building activities and executive or corporate retreats. Most are aimed at relatively small groups of people, but some can accommodate groups of several hundred.
With these options, the venue serves as both the location and the activity, as the challenge is often about conquering physical tasks located on the venue grounds or camping-style activities as a way of building rapport within a team of people. Corporate retreats and campsites can be found all across the country, from New York to California, many catering for groups of 100 or more.
4. Historic Homes
The historic homes that are open to the public tend to be large homes, set in breathtaking gardens. They’re elegant, with historically significant architecture and lots of different interior spaces. This makes them perfect for executive retreats and other exclusive events, and they’re ideal as unique conference venues too. They have the space to accommodate medium to large groups of people. And most have multiple interior spaces for holding simultaneous sessions and activities.
5. Warehouses and Industrial Spaces
With huge rooms and high ceilings, converted warehouses and other former industrial spaces can serve as incredible event backdrops. Live performances, small trade shows and exhibitions, branded pop-ups, and other consumer-focused events, are particularly at home in these spaces.
The big advantage here is that the venue itself is part of the décor. Huge, airy space, often with exposed brick or steel or enormous windows make these venues highly memorable.
These kinds of spaces are plentiful across the country, particularly in big cities where former industrial districts are being renewed and repurposed. Check out this roundup of 50 converted industrial spaces, ranging from an old salt warehouse in Portland, Oregon to a former railyard in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Make Sure Your Unique Event Venue Meets Your Needs
One thing to be wary of when checking out unusual meeting spaces is that some may lack certain amenities, so it’s important to make sure the venue you choose has everything you need.
Some points to check out might include:
- Their openness to alcohol — If you plan to serve alcohol, make sure the venue doesn’t restrict alcohol sale or use and that you’ll be able to obtain whatever license you need.
- The kinds of facilities available for storing, preparing, and/or cooking food
- There being enough restrooms to accommodate the size of your guest list
- Whether A/V equipment is supplied or you need to source your own
- Whether wi-fi is available
- How accessible the venue is for people with physical limitations or disabilities
A Good Attendee Experience Starts with a Great Venue
The most successful events are those that meet or exceed an audience’s expectations. Part of that is choosing a venue that fits the event, the audience, and your brand. Choosing a unique space that ticks all those boxes can enhance the experience for everyone who attends.