With experiential marketing, incentive travel and the conference market booming, events professionals need to find ways to differentiate themselves in a saturated market place and one of the ways to create a unique offering is to employ an extra dose of creativity to all of the occasions that you execute. While it may be the knee jerk response to rally around the traditional chain hotels and conference centers as your go to in planning an event, finding something that can meet your client’s needs while engrossing them in an original atmosphere will make your efforts far more memorable and distinguish you from all the other players.
Abandoned warehouse space, historic buildings, museums and double decker buses blend the element of the event with an added bonus of the venue’s features that can truly make for an outstanding affair. I once took 300 meeting attendees by bus up the Algarve coast to an ancient village to have a traditional Portuguese banquet in an old stone mill. The food was very simple and traditional and the floors were simply earth. We all sat on long benches on farmhouse table and were served family style. Between the music and traditional dance, the flowing port and Portuguese wine and the scenic drive through the traditional villages, the guests were talking about this dinner even two years later when I hosted the same group in Montreal. The greatest cost was the transportation but it was well worth it.
Here are some things that you might want to take into account when planning to knock the socks right off your next event client.
What in the world is this place??
Finding unusual looking spaces is amazing for an event such as the old mill that I used in Portugal or old train stations and crazy wild art installations. Bear in mind what and whom you are hosting, however, because when you get outside of what’s traditional, you are going to want to make sure that it matches your audience. Hosting a 9 course dinner for 50 in an airport hangar is going to seem very bizarre and taking a teetotaler group to a brewery for a fundraiser is not going to fly. Use your imagination to make it perfect. A Halloween event for 200 held at an old mansion is perfect or a gala dinner for 500 in an art gallery works as well.
Try to employ some unique value added details to your events as well. If you are hosting an awards cocktail at an art gallery, get some thematic costumes together and create a photo wall where guests can walk the carpet and be snapped by a photographer in the get up. This makes for great take aways for your guests and sets you up perfectly to use the photography to market your next event. Of course, if your event is simply too large to fit anywhere but a conference centre, then make sure you set aside plenty in your budget to transform the space into something that blows the mind. A great example of this is the Fashion Cares event in support of AIDS that was usually held at a convention centre since there were thousands in attendance. The event was spectacular due to the design.
Finally, don’t neglect logistics and technical aspects. How much power will you need? What is the AV capacity and the acoustics like at the venue and will it work for what you need? What is parking like and can people access it via transit? If not, you’ll need to shoulder the burden of transportation.
Overall, a unique venue can really make your events stand out but don’t go into it blindly. Consider all the elements and work like a professional to make sure there are no surprises.