Alternate Meeting Venues: 4 Unique Options for Creating Memorable Events
Choosing a unique meeting venue can be a complicated task. Acknowledging that the venue is a major part of the overall event experience is the first step in starting the search. Hotels, conference centers, and other predictable meeting venues are big contributors to the overall “sameness” of events. Let’s face it, once attendees arrive at a venue, most meeting rooms and ballrooms are alike. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. What if, instead of the “same old, same old,” you build in some surprises and move one of your conference events off-site? What would happen if you broke the mold and designed fresh, unconventional events?
Here are a few ideas for creating unique meeting experiences your attendees won’t soon forget.
Wide Open Spaces
When looking for a clean, blank slate, the first thing that comes to mind is usually not a parking lot. But, parking lots can be used to create unique meeting venues. The trick for using a parking lot is not to let your guests lose sight of where they are: your event. Pop up a carnival tent and get your theme ideas flowing! Using food trucks around the perimeter of the parking lot not only provides guests with multiple food and beverage options, but they can also be used to define the space.
Rooftops of parking garages can also serve as an alternative meeting venue. Garages in metro areas usually offer great views of downtown. What better way to highlight your meeting’s host city than to be right in the middle of everything!
Art Galleries and Art Schools
Many event planners are already using art galleries as unique meeting venues. These classic spaces are popular because they require very little décor. The also provide art work – the perfect conversation pieces for cocktail receptions and networking events. However, art schools can provide an even better experience because they are dynamic works in progress. As a unique meeting venue, meeting planners can use canvases to express key content points of the meeting. An added benefit would be to have local art students create instant masterpieces during the event, with the subjects tied to the theme. Suddenly, what would have been a conventional session is now an unconventional collection of attention-grabbing messages that will create a memorable experience for attendees.
Feast with the Beast
City zoos are another option for a unique meeting venue. After the parks close to the public, many zoos will stay open for a private event. Yours! Packed with exhibit halls, aquariums, and lush landscapes, zoos make for great backdrops for fantastically unique events!
Make it Theatrical
Most theaters, concert venues, and opera houses hold their events at night. Therefore, they are open as meeting venue rentals during the day. Does your event have a fabulous keynote speaker that deserves a real stage? Why not give it to them! Utilize the box office as your guest check-in and serve breakfast or lunch in the lobby before the theater doors open. Not only will your attendees enjoy the ambiance, but they will also take away a surely memorable experience.
Think Outside of the Box
Attendees are attracted by something different – something they haven’t seen before. They want memorable meetings in unique spaces as much as meeting planners do. But, before you start looking at locations, stop and look at the audience experience. Is it a structured session with presenters and media? Is it an open, flowing network opportunity? Is it a social event with food and beverages? Is it a combination of everything?