Making the most of a unique venue
There are few things that annoy me more than boring venues. We have all been to – and no doubt hosted – events in boring venues. You know the ones; dark, dreary and devoid of atmosphere. But things are changing. It’s no surprise that an increasing number of event planners are looking to take their events to “unique venues”.
Aren’t all venues unique?
The answer is of course yes, all venues are unique, if you just think about the little things that don’t really make a difference. However I am concentrating on the big things that really matter. And in that sense, unfortunately, most venues are very, very similar.
A lot of venues share the very same characterises that make them bad for standard learning events like conferences and other more experiential events. A lot of venues tend to be designed, almost as an after thought, for events. They can be found in basement floors across the globe! As well as a poor location for the meeting space, they are designed to be an as “inoffensive” as possible and to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. So, you won’t find any bright colours, or interesting furniture or anything really, that can give a venue its own character.
These types of venues are also designed to maximise profit; which means they live and die on quick turnarounds. So they tend to have one big room (that can be divided quickly) and a flat floor. The very design sucks individuality from the spaces. These types of spaces make up a large percentage of the spaces available for planners. However, many truly unique spaces are entering the list of possible options.
Standard venues offer a standard service and that’s great for most planners!
What I would class as a “standard” venue, is a space that regularly hosts events and they normally do a very good job. If you are running a traditional event then these traditional venues fit perfectly. They tend to have good AV, understand events and have dedicated events staff on site. You have a standard venue, and you know you are going to get a standard service. However, if you want to run a more creative or experiential event it is worth looking further afield and going for a unique venue.
A few things to consider when looking at a unique space
I previously covered “the basics” on what to look for when you use a creative / unique space, in a kind of creative venue check list. So here I wanted to cover a few of the fundamentals when using a unique space.
1. Use the character of the space as much as you can
The best tip I can give is to practically make the most of that unique venue. Use as much as it as you can. Get into every nook and cranny. Try and use all the funky, different spaces. If you go for a unique venue you have to go full throttle. Turn the cloakroom into an interactive space. Use the booths for small breakout sessions. Move the attendees around as much as possible. Embrace what makes the venue unique.
2. Piggy back on the theme
If you take an event to a Zoo it would be such a waste if you didn’t let your creatively go wild! I visited the most amazing Zoo in Leipzig and while on the trip I was thinking about how much fun I could have if I could persuade a client to take a conference or a dinner to a space like that! With plenty of colour, light and truly unique features, the spaces really supported the ideas behind Meeting Design. Creatively blossoms in creative spaces.
3. Make the most of these spaces
As well as offering truly unique spaces for event planners to host their events, these one off venues also tend to be able to throw in something additional: that X Factor. Before, during or after your event, how about, for example, a tour at the VW factory, or a “taxi” round the race track at the Porsche factory? Or a tour of the hygiene museum or lunch in a tropical rain forest? All these types of add ons turn events into experiences for your guests.
If you take your event to a standard venue it can easy merge into every other event that you guest has attended. If you take your event to a unique venue then, at the very least, attendees will remember your event.
However, if you use the character of the venue, piggy back on the venue to theme your event or some of the programme, and you add on those amazing extras, you will have anything but a standard event.
Thanks to the German Convention Bureau for the inspirational and unique venues I saw during a recent familiarisation trip.
At the Event Innovation Summit in Barcelona in October a charming Spanish Gentleman and I got speaking about hashtags. As you do! He said he had seen the Event Innovation Summit hashtag being used and advertised but wasn’t sure exactly why the organisers and everyone else would use it. I very briefly said they are great and I have been going on about hashtags for a while!
We then started talking about EIBTM. He said “how can I get the most from the #eibtm? I said that would depend form what perspective he looked from. Was he talking as:
- an attendee
- an exhibitors
- a speakers or
- the organiser
Using EIBTM as an example he wanted to understand exactly how a hashtag if used properly could add value to his next event. I said I would drop him a note. And here it is in Blog format. I’ve looked at how each stakeholder could use the event hashtag to best effect.
How to get the most out of the #eibtm (or any event) hashtag
Now I am using the #eibtm hashtag as a live example but the outline really could be relevant for ANY event hashtag.
And I will look at how each stakeholder can use the hashtag to get more value from the event. With one week to go to EIBTM I would love to see an increased awareness of how useful the tag could and should be. So please feel free to forward on the Blog.
So first up and most importantly: how attendees should make the most of an event #tag
1.Use it to keep up to date. As we build up to the event the hashtag is a great way to find out more about the event in an easy, hassle free way. At a large event there is a lot going on. If you want to stay on top of what’s happening simply FOLLOW THE HASHTAG. Following the #tag is easy. Just type it into the search function in Twitter and save the search.
2. Use it to help you network. Most of the people and organisations using the hashtag in the run up to the event will be attending. You can use the #tag to help make the most of your time at the conference.
– Is there anyone who is ‘talking your language?’
– Is someone they tweeting about the areas that you want to know about?
If so why not contact them and ask to meet up? The hashtag is a great way to open up communication with people outside of your network who have similar interests.
3. Use it to help you decide what to do at the show. You have a whole host of choices at a show the size of EIBTM. It is impossible to go to every stand or to see every speaker. So use the hashtag to help you make those decisions. If you aren’t sure about a session why not see if that speaker has tweeted using the hashtag? (in the speaker section below I will cover what they should be tweeting about) If they have tweeted I would say he/she is more likely to have put more effort into their engagement and involvement with the show. The same goes for exhibitors. As an attendee I will be using the hashtag as a pointer to the sessions I should attend and the stands I should visit.
How speakers should make the most of an event #tag
1. Use it to provide more learning. It is unlikely that any speaker is really able to get everything over to those gathered to listen to her during their short session. So use the hashtag as a way to point to extra content. It’s a great way to get people to do a bit of prep before they attend your session – perhaps a blog on the issue you are covering or other content related to the session.
2. Use the hashtag to engage with your audience. Jump on the hashtag and use it to check and tailor the content you are covering. Ask your potential audience. After your session use it to see if you missed anything out of your session as well as highlighting more content related to your session.
3. Use it to promote your session. You want the right people at your session so use the hashtag to tell people who that is and why they should attend your session.
How exhibitors should make the most of an event #tag
1. Generate leads. Follow people who use the hashtag. Retweet their great content. Start engaging with attendees before the event. Try to make sure that the people who arrive on your stand already know who you are and more importantly that you have taken the time to know who they are.
2. Shorten your sales pipeline. Use the hashtag to see who is attending the event. You won’t have a complete list from the organisers so use the hashtag to find out. Find out a bit more about their business via their Twitter profile. Contact them if they are relevant, if you think you can really help them. With this proactive approach you could have them arrive on your stand to discuss the proposal you’ve already worked on.
3. Don’t just highlight that you are taking a stand but highlight why people should seek you out. Upload links to content using the hashtag. Demonstrate that you understand your clients business by commenting and retweeting.
Use it to prove that you are committed to your customers and serious about doing business at the show.
How organisers should make the most of an event #tag
This is the simple part. As organisers we can add so much value to our events if we lead on use of the hashtag. This link explains how organisers can best use the hashtag in detail.
But in general all we have to do is promote the benefits (like I’ve listed above) to our stakeholders. When people use our hashtag there is so much in it for us so we have to put that bit more into it. We have to educate and inform. And most importantly we have to lead and demonstrate that we really know what not only we are talking about but what our attendees, exhibitors and speakers want to talk about.