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.