By Sean Antonson
We have all attended or hosted events in traditional venues throughout the years. These events tend to blur together over time as they may be held in similar meeting spaces. Rarely does a venue “wow” us anymore, touching our senses, inspiring us with their atmosphere and ambience and creating a memorable event. These kinds of venues are, however, out there and are simply waiting to be found.
Many of these distinct venues may not be marketed in the usual way or perhaps they are unaware they could be used for such a variety of purposes. There are many locations in almost every city which are rare, unique, memorable and accessible.
The right venue can infuse creativity, provide conversation, inspire collaboration, attract attendees and impact the event in numerous ways. These unique venues can be cathedrals, universities, libraries, restaurants, parks, theatres, mansions, piers, museums or simply space that the event planner dreams could be used for their event but isn’t yet sure how to source it.
Once you set out to find that special venue, the following tips may help:
- Web search: This is the holy grail of sourcing a venue but you have to refine your search for a unique or specific setting. Many venues won’t be listed traditionally under meetings or events as many aren’t within the industry and cater to a different clientele for other reasons. Using specific key words in combination with the resources and necessities that convey your ideal venue such as: city, cultural theme, inside or outside, location i.e.: waterfront, park, seafood restaurant, marina, mountain view, etc.
- Specific websites: There are websites dedicated to local, national and international venues which are distinctive and rare. These are great resources yet they do not encompass all venues as they tend to pay to be listed on the site. Still there are many great venues represented on these sites.
- Word of mouth: When in doubt, pick up the phone or email a friendly event planner in the city you are headed to. They will be able to provide you with guidance on those special venues in their town that outsiders are unfamiliar with. Better yet ask a bride-to-be – no one does more research on venues which are non-traditional than a bride.
- Tourism bureaus: Tourism bureaus are great assets at providing event planners with potential venues. They have scoured the city for places to host meetings and events to show potential clients how special they can make their attendees feel.
- Conference Services Managers: A Conference Service Manager makes more recommendations to their clients in the planning process than anyone else. Speak with a CSM about a potential offsite venue which will stimulate your delegates or play to your event’s theme, goals and objectives.
- Suppliers: Suppliers are also a great resource. Speak with your audio-visual, outside catering company or exhibition company and ask them where they’ve executed events.
- What do your attendees want? Engage your attendees if this is an ongoing event. If you have the opportunity to post a question in a survey about a venue do it. You will be surprised by the positive responses.
- Think “uniquely”: Would you like to host an event at your city hall? How about your local court house? Perhaps you’ve dreamed of blocking off part of Main Street for an outdoor reception or hosting a meeting in a historical building or church. These can all be accomplished as long as you speak to the correct person. Contact them directly; let them know that you will manage the event from beginning to end and inform them of what you require from them.
As a participant there is nothing better than attending an event which is new, fresh and exclusive. An event held in the right surroundings can be innovative, vigorous and stimulating. The right venue can influence the attendee with an experience they otherwise wouldn’t have.
About the author
Sean Antonson is Director, Vancouver Division, of BUKSA Strategic Conference Services, a full-service conference and event management company. They produce seamless, comprehensive, worry-free experiences for conference delegates, speakers and clients. Visit them at www.buksa.com.