When most people think about a typical corporate meeting or event venue, the image that comes to mind is very often that of a button-down boardroom, a cavernous convention centre or perhaps a swanky hotel ballroom. When looking to create a unique event that’s memorable, nostalgic or just plain old fun, however, more and more corporate planners are focusing their venue search on the myriad possibilities available at cultural and landmark facilities across the country.
From stately mansions and historical homes to art galleries, museums and tourist attractions, cultural and landmark venues are becoming increasingly popular for a wide variety of event types. Not only do these venues offer unique advantages and benefits for event organizers looking to stretch their planning dollar, they are also unfortunately subject to a lot of misconceptions of what’s involved when venturing outside the confines of hotels and conference centres. Ultimately, though, landmark and cultural venues have a lot going for them.
“The biggest advantage of hosting an event at landmark facility is that it already has a theme and feel,” says Shawn Brandson of Gibraltar Dining Corporation which provides food and beverage services to Winnipeg’s historic Fort Gibraltar. “Many venues such as hotels or country clubs do not have an identity and their rooms are a rectangular box which has to be accessorized. A landmark venue already has a theme and feel to it.”
Whether it’s a small wedding or social function, a community fundraiser or a corporate training seminar, cultural and landmark facilities offer a multitude of benefits not universally found in more traditional locales. Among these advantages are the ability of the venue to create a memorable atmosphere to impress the stodgiest of guests, versatility in handling almost any type of social or corporate function, the convenience of one-stop shopping for catering and other services and built-in credibility to enhance the overall image of an event.
Memorable settings and captivating ambience are at the top of the list when it comes to choosing a cultural or landmark venue. Whether a one-of-a-kind milieu that can’t be found elsewhere or the dazzling beauty of the event space itself, these often spectacular sites present unlimited options for the creative event planner.
“Unique venue is consistently identified as a top corporate criteria in event venue decision-making, along with food and ambiance,” says Lisa Tompkins, director of marketing and communications, CN Tower. “Unique venues such as the CN Tower provide a memorable setting and unforgettable ambience. From the breathtaking ride to the top aboard glass fronted elevators to the spectacular views from the top, venues such as these intrigue attendees and provide inspiration.”
Mark Robert, managing partner of The Carlu in Toronto, agrees. “There are many advantages to hosting an event at a landmark or cultural facility like The Carlu; however the biggest advantage would be the beauty of the space. There is less reason to go out and spend the majority of your budget on décor or draping to set the atmosphere for the event. The architecture and design is enough on its own to give the event personality, class and charm.”
Versatility and convenience are two great additional reasons for selecting a cultural or landmark site. From offering outstanding catering and presentation services to giving meeting organizers enormous flexibility in terms of event theme, décor and type of function, these venues can help streamline many of the rigors of event planning.
“We do over 50 weddings a year but business meetings and conferences are ideal for a landmark facility,” says Brandson. “Having the theme of the fur trade era of 1815 creates a lot of options for teambuilding and entertainment. Activities such as axe throwing, races, tug-of-war and skits are great activities and icebreakers. Being able to book all these activities directly through our full-time catering services ensures that the activities will be done in a way that exceeds expectations.”
The Royal Canadian Mint is another Winnipeg landmark venue that thrives on the uniqueness of its facilities as a corporate meeting option.
“We have hosted a variety of events including weddings, showers, international conferences, business meetings, tourism gatherings, and sporting events,” explains Tracey Thomson, acting supervisor, Boutique and Tour Operations for the Mint. “Our theatre can be adapted to a variety of event needs including theatre seating for presentations for up to 150 people, round table seating for 80 for lunches or dinners, and an atrium suitable for stand-up receptions for up to 250 people.”
If building your organization’s reputation and infusing the event with credibility are your goals, landmark and cultural venues may be just the ticket. Many of these venues are not only historically significant, they also feature staff with a high level of local knowledge and expertise to enhance the professional image of any corporate or social event.
“There is a lot of credibility with The Carlu being a designated National Historic Site,” says Robert. “The Carlu’s staff knows the history and intent behind the design of the space. It is not just a blank room – there is function in every detail. When holding an event at The Carlu, you gain the assistance of our staff and are able to use this knowledge to enhance every aspect of your event.”
The CN Tower’s Lisa Tompkins echoes those comments, adding: “When the uniqueness of the venue is matched by the quality of cuisine and service delivery, attendees really feel they are getting an extraordinary experience – it improves the brand reputation of the organization hosting the event and increases the ‘wow’ factor for delegates.”
Despite these apparent advantages, however, cultural and landmark venues of may have received a bad rap over the years. Considered by some to be too small, poorly marketed or inefficient, many of these venues are working hard to overcome these misconceptions.
“Event planners may not realize the Mint is available for booking, or that we have multiple spaces available to meet a variety of needs at a competitive price,” says Thomson. “In fact, The Royal Canadian Mint is a landmark Winnipeg building with a breathtaking 110-foot glass tower building that offers a unique venue for events from weddings to meetings and conferences.”
Mark Robert says the perceived cost of holding an event at a facility such as The Carlu is also a factor. “The biggest misconception when it comes to landmark or cultural facilities is that the cost is extravagantly more than other venues. When you look at other spaces where you have to bring in everything from draping, lighting and extra décor to give the space character, it increases the cost. Being in a space where the design and architecture itself is the character, you don’t even have to think about additional décor.”
Whether your meeting can benefit from a focus on culture, history or ambience, it’s obvious there’s a world of intriguing possibilities just waiting to be explored. Here are just a few examples of some of the exciting cultural and landmark venues in your favourite destination city:
Types of cultural and landmark venues
- Art galleries and studios
- Performing Arts
- Culinary and Wineries
- Universities and Colleges
- Exhibition Centres
- Ethnic and Cultural Community Centres
- Places of Worship
- Science and Technology
- Multi-Use Facilities
- Tourist Attractions
- Historical Sites
- Historical Buildings
- Natural and Geographic Landmarks