Beyond the Ballroom: Creative Event Venues

Are you tired of the traditional event venues and interested in shaking things up for your attendees? Unconventional venues are a great trend for meeting professionals who want to create a different experience for guests beyond a hotel ballroom or convention center. For some events the convention center is unavoidable—but if you’re in a flexible situation, it might be smart to consider some of these offbeat choices. Your attendees may end up talking about their experience for a long time after attending an event in any of these memorable locations.

Music Clubs. Most of us have attended terrific, intimate concerts at smaller nightclub venues. Ever thought of hosting an event there? The benefits are plenty—cool setting, refreshment facilities, great acoustics and a/v capability.

Museums. For event profs searching for a larger, visually stunning setting, try getting in touch with major museums in your area. Most have the space to host a large event, and while there will certainly be rules in place for your attendees (no touching the exhibits!) it will provide a unique respite from the windowless conference center.

Winery. Many events have evening receptions or cocktail hours for networking, but why force attendees to walk or Uber from a hotel to the reception venue when you could host your entire event at a scenic venue with built-in potential for a great party?

Botanical Garden or Nature Preserve. Speaking of scenic, for those looking for something different and willing to tackle potential weather challenges, consider holding your event outdoors. Parks are never a bad idea, but if you’d like to up your cache factor, a local botanical garden or nature preserve fits the bill.

Barn. Another option for outdoor themes that allows for changes in the weather is to find a farm venue and use the barn. Often popular for weddings for parties, barns give a rustic and outdoorsy feel without the danger of attendees being affected by rain.

Dine-In Movie Theaters. A big trend emerging at your local cinema is the integration of a typical pub meal with the movie-going experience. Attendees for smaller events could relax in comfy recliner chairs and enjoy a delicious meal (or meals, for day-long events) during the programming. You may often be able to use the theater’s big screen for presentations.

Historic Buildings. Adding a bit of local history to your event can make it more memorable for everyone involved. By checking with your local city hall, you can acquire a list of historic or landmark buildings in your area, and many of them are perfect for hosting events. This may include historic opera houses or theaters, or even a notable restaurant or home.

Cruise Ship. Destination events at tropical resorts can be quite popular – why not take your conference out to sea? There are a number of options for events of any size or duration, ranging from day trips to multi-day destinations aboard a full-amenity cruise ship. If your host city is located near a river, you may also look into riverboat cruises for smaller crowds.

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