We are massive fans of using creative spaces for conferences and meetings. A lot of research shows that we are at our most creative (and receptive to new ideas) when we are relaxed and enjoying the atmosphere that the meeting planner has created. Most creative spaces are designed to create a more informal atmosphere and we think they are idea for supporting a particular type of conference, and who knows, maybe your next conference.
So with a wee bit of experience behind us in the last six months having run events at two wonderful creative spaces Vinopolis and Bounce in London we decided to do a short “5 things to look out for” when using a more creative space for your conference or meeting. We hope that his helps other eventprofs feel confident that they can look at more unusual options for their meetings.
1. Creative spaces don’t always have the things on hand that more traditional conference venues have
It’s easy to take it for granted that your venue will have the conference staples like, flip-charts, some spare AV lying around, note pads and pens, a connector or two and a power cable to spare. But you can’t guarantee this at a more creative space. So this increases your need to be super organised. Make sure your conference box is fully stocked before heading on site.
2. Oh yes, don’t expect the WiFi issue to disappear in a creative atmosphere
Putting in the proper WiFi that’s needed to keep the attendees at a decent sized conference constantly on line is costly: it’s a big financial undertaking for even our big venues. A lot of venues like Bounce for example, don’t need a constant connection for their regular guests, so they may not be geared up for your requests to have your attendees on line constantly throughout the whole event. So double check the WiFi situation before you arrive on site.
3. The bed fellows of “cool, funky and creative” can be “cold and dark” so pay special attention to the lighting in a creative space
Many spaces may be exceptionally well lit to create the right atmosphere for their normal business. But make sure they are able to cast the right lighting on your speakers when they speak and that they don’t leave your exhibitors in the dark. And of course make sure you see a creative space when it is empty: it can look like totally different from when it is in use.
4. Creative spaces can be in general a little bit smaller and that means they will have a smaller staff
It’s a good idea to find out exactly who will be there to support you on the day. When we use big purpose built spaces they tend to have the staff on hand to help us. So don’t just expect the venue to have onsite AV or an opps team. Make sure you know the level of support you can call on during your event and consider than when you decide on the venue.
5. The space you secure may be for your “exclusive” hire but remember there is a chance that some of that creative space may well be open to others including the public
We’ve all had experiences with a noisy group who’ve hired the event space next to us. That’s easy to manage and can normally be solved “organiser to organiser” The situation is much harder to deal with if it’s paying punters enjoy a relaxing drink or social activity. It is therefore wise to get a good idea of the level of use during your hire. If you are in a mixed zone (with punters mingling happily with your attendees) then make sure you have ushers and great signage. This limits the number of lost sheep you will have and reduces the chances of an awkward moment when a member of the public stumbles in on your “fish bowl” break out session and wonders exactly what is going on!
So if you want to use a creative space (and please, please do consider it) it’s extra important to be prepared. Good luck!