Unconventional event venues – and how to make them work

Nowadays, the event industry is reaching incredibly high standards in terms of anything that we can imagine. Technological development made competition rife and every event planner or producer is on a permanent search for that “something” that would turn their events into impressive, unforgettable experiences. No wonder that the quest for unconventional event venues is never ending. The pace at which this is happening is so fast that the kind of venues that were seen as unconventional a couple of years ago, are now just “normal”.

Traditional event venues, like hotels, congress centers, exhibition centers, and ballrooms, still present their indisputable advantages. They are set up specifically to run events, which means many aspects are covered. A well calculated floor plan and placement of various areas: reception, seating, stage, stands, etc. means ease of guest and staff traffic. Well equipped storage and cooking spaces, restrooms, and audio/video installations spare event planners a lot of headache. And a network of trusted suppliers that the venue already has, means that the event planner has to spend less time looking for vendors.

But still, you want to amaze and delight your guests when they check in at your event, and you feel the above is not enough. So we researched to find out as many ideas of unconventional event venues as possible. Get inspired from this list for your next project. And keep reading till the end to make sure you know what to keep in mind when you book an unconventional event venue.

Unconventional event venues – endless possibilities

We’ll start our list with those venues that up until a few years ago were seen as unconventional but, with time, they turned into “proper” event venues and offer many of the facilities offered by the more traditional venues. We predict that in a couple more years, these will be as mainstream as your ordinary conference center:

  • re-purposed warehouses, lofts, rooftops (envision: cocktail parties, training courses, workshops)
  • theaters (for events that are not theater shows), cinemas (for events that are not movie screenings)
  • museums and art galleries (envision: anything from a gala dinner, cocktail party, product/brand launch to a seminar or conference)
  • libraries, universities (envision: conferences, congresses)
  • zoo, botanical garden (envision: cocktail parties, concerts, photography workshops)
  • mansions, villas, castles, farmhouses, vineyards, barns (envision: almost any type of event that is not a 50.000 people concert or sports tournament)
  • cruise ships and river cruise ships (envision: anything from seminars, courses and workshops, to product launches, gala and non-profit dinners, to exclusive parties)

Now let’s get to something a bit more borderline:

  • nightclubs (by day: envision: workshops and seminars, product launches, business brunches)
  • airport hangars (envision: pretty much any kind of event)
  • parking lot (envision: concert, fair, themed market)

And finally, going into the extreme:

  • abandoned anything: tunnels, train/subway stations, factories, old houses (envision: from exhibitions and concerts to workshops to themed parties)
  • nature: the beach, a forest, a canyon, a cave (envision: a concert, a photography workshop, a training course, a party)

Make the unconventional work – what it takes

When it comes to using an unconventional venue for an event, there are a series of challenges that the event planner has to face in order to make the venue suitable for the purpose. Most of these venues are bare of any necessity that arises from hosting a number of people in the premises, so here’s a list of what needs to be kept in mind.

Logistics

In many cases, with unconventional event venues, all equipment (lights, sound, video, internet connection) have to be procured separately and brought to the venue. Sometimes (let’s say, an abandoned mansion) even electric power is missing, so you need to put a generator on the list. Same goes for making sure there’s a running water supply, and in some cases you’ll even need to provide portable restrooms.

Catering is another challenge here. You need to make sure you can isolate an area for food preparation and storage and that may mean bringing in kitchen stations.

Budget

Unconventional event venues may often look like attractive deals because rental fees are lower than those of traditional venues. But do keep in mind that you will have to cover additional costs for each element you’ll be renting from other vendors because the venue doesn’t provide it. So the overall cost of the event may end up even higher than if it took place in a traditional venue. Be extra careful when budgeting.

Permits

If your venue is not originally designed to host events, you need to check the necessity of getting permits for serving food, for alcohol consumption, for noise, and even for the mere gathering of people. You may have the wildest event concept in mind at this place, but first, make sure it’s legal.

Communicating your event

When you communicate your event, highlight the uniqueness of the venue and make it the center stage of the visual marketing materials. Manage your event on an online platform and display a picture of the venue as the main event visual. And if you choose Metooo as your event platform, you can be sure that your event webpage will be not only beautiful but also complete with all the info that you need to add about your venue.

Guest access, parking and check-in

Unless your event is a retreat spanning over several days, it’s better if the venue is not far from a populated urban area. Make sure to give your guests precise indications about how to reach the place, or, even better, provide a free shuttle service taking them straight to the venue.

To facilitate check-in, install signage directing guests to the entrance, if the entrance is not well visible from outside. And to reduce queues at the entrance, use an app (like our app Event Plan, if you hosted your event on Metooo) to quickly scan ticket QR codes and welcome your guests in.

Conclusion

Industry trends will always follow the new, the unusual, the unique, so the search for unconventional event venues will not end to soon. If anything, event planners will have to become more and more creative and offer guests unexpected, groundbreaking experiences.

Not all events are suitable for unconventional venues, but even for the most traditional event you can still add the touch of uniqueness. If your event is complex, with a highly professional dimension, like a congress or a trade show, you can surprise your guests by hosting the correlated events (like cocktail parties or networking sessions) in an unconventional venue.

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