5 Ideas for Unexpected Meeting Venues

November 21, 2017 |
venue

Where’s the coolest venue you’ve hosted or attended a meeting? In the past, non-traditional meeting venues were few and far between, while planners instead opted for more common choices like hotel ballrooms and conference rooms or convention centers.

Yet the demand for creative, unexpected meeting venues is on the rise, thanks to a number of factors. Chief among them? Delivering an unforgettable attendee experience.

“Many see the need to match non-traditional meeting spaces with increasing client demand for unique venues as a particularly exciting development moving forward,” according to the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, produced by American Express. “One [meeting planner] explains, ‘As a meeting planner, it’s exciting—finding creative solutions for clients and keeping on top of the variety of venues. It’s not just hotels that are available anymore. It’s anything you could turn into a space that could house a meeting.”

Depending on your meeting or event specifics, you might very well need to stick with larger spaces like convention halls. Yet if you have some flexibility in your planning, one of the most impactful ways to shake things up is to change your venue. Opting for a non-traditional meeting space doesn’t just make a big impact on attendee experience; it can also help support your company’s branding and messaging in a way that wasn’t previously possible at other venues.

So what exactly do we mean by non-traditional meeting venues? Let’s take a look at five ideas to get your planning started.

Coworking Spaces

Thanks to a steady increase in start-ups and small businesses, coworking spaces continue to be on the rise, too. Small Business Labs expects global coworking spaces to number nearly 15,000 this year, and hit over 26,000 in 2020. And that means it’s increasingly likely you’ll find a coworking space near you, or in your preferred host city.

Why move your meeting or event to a coworking space? Flexibility, for one thing. Many coworking spaces include a combination of open areas and closed conference rooms or offices, so you can easily transition your attendees to different parts of the building depending on the agenda.

Plus, a lot of coworking spaces are, well, pretty swank. They’ve either got that cool industrial vibe going on, or they’re sleek, modern and fully equipped—or even a mix of the two aesthetics. Yet no matter how eye-catching they are, coworking spaces are designed for work, which means your attendees don’t have to sacrifice productivity for selfie-worthy surroundings.

Art Galleries

No matter your industry or event type, it’s likely safe to say that you want your attendees to leave invigorated and inspired. What better way to spark those reactions than by hosting your event in an art gallery?

Just imagine a group of attendees sharing, learning and collaborating amid actual works of art. It’s a pretty incredible mental picture, right? (No pun intended!) Plus, galleries tend to be more open spaces, which means you’ll be more likely to host groups of varying sizes.

Pro tip? As you work with a gallery owner to secure the event space, make sure you’re familiar with any guidelines around photography or general interaction with the art. That way, you can educate your attendees and ensure a memorable (and respectful) experience.

Local Production Facilities—Wineries, Distilleries or Warehouses

Large, open spaces; a minimalist, industrial aesthetic; a way to support a local business or brand with your meeting or event—yep, there are several reasons to consider production facilities like distilleries, wineries or warehouses as a venue.

Coordination is, of course, key. You certainly don’t want attendees wandering around in the midst of a production line, and you want to ensure things like loud noise won’t adversely impact your event. But these production-oriented facilities can offer a refreshing change of pace for your next meeting or event.

For one thing, it won’t be hard to find large, open areas within the space so that your attendees have plenty of room to spread out. And, depending on the type of facility you pick, there might be an opportunity to include a tour, tasting or other behind-the-scenes peek as a coveted value-add to your agenda (social sharing encouraged!)

Rooftops

You know the age-old saying: you can’t control the weather! You may not want to turn your entire meeting or event over to the mercy of Mother Nature, but it’s worth exploring rooftop venues as an enviable, picturesque place to host a meeting, meal or networking happy hour.

After all, meetings and events are always better al fresco! In addition to giving your attendees access to unforgettable views and spaces that might not otherwise be open to the public, you’re also guaranteeing a share-worthy experience that your attendees can’t wait to document on their social media channels. Don’t forget to make sharing easier with widely publicized hashtags, relevant social media handles and other pertinent info!

Museums

Museums offer many of the same benefits as art galleries, yet introduce a wider array of space configurations and scenery. Plus, depending on where you’re hosting your meeting or event, there could be a neat opportunity to enhance your branding with a similarly categorized museum. One example? A technology conference in a science- or industrially themed museum. Or an innovation-centered discussion held in the midst of a contemporary art collection. See where we’re headed with this?

Depending on the museum’s layout, pricing and availability, you may be able to host different parts of your agenda in separate areas of the museum. Some museums, for example, have on-site restaurants that could be a relaxing spot for a post-event dinner or happy hour. Outdoor exhibitions like sculpture gardens provide the perfect spot for a rejuvenating mid-afternoon stroll. And museum auditoriums (or even planetariums) could be the perfect spot for large-group presentations.

We hope the non-traditional meeting venue inspiration is flowing! If we can help you source possible venues or event spaces, drop us a line anytime. And stay tuned to the blog, where we’ll be sharing more insight from the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast in the coming weeks.