5 Tips for Planning an Event at an Unconventional Venue
These days, everyone wants to experience the “new” and “different” before anyone else does and that’s why unconventional venues are becoming more and more popular. Event attendees are bored with sitting in a bland, dreary venue and competition is higher than ever, so it’s time to step up our game!
Many meetings now happen at trendy restaurants, rented out coffee shops, and even breweries. Another popular place is using a super trendy corporate lobby that acts more as a showroom during the regular business day. I love unusual venues because they promise a completely new experience and it’s something your guests really look forward to.
Since this trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere I want to share a few things to keep in mind when hosting an event in one of these unique spaces. With unfamiliar venues, come unique challenges so make sure you’re aware of them.
5 Tips for Planning an Event at an Unconventional Venue:
1. Loading in/out
In conference centers and hotels, they typically have a loading dock, and trolley carts with staff to help bring in your event day supplies. Sadly, this is usually not the case with our favourite trendy venues. Make sure you confirm timing for loading in and out. This can be a bigger issue than you may initially realize. If your event is outside of regular business hours, you might need someone to be available to let you in early and lock up late, behind you. It takes a long time to set up and tear down so confirm this with your venue, early on. Bring your own trolley carts and a set or two of muscles.
2. Security & Lighting
If you’re hosting an event in an office building or showroom, security and alarms are typically synced on a schedule according to building hours and since our events often happen outside of regular hours, it is important to look into this.
Some buildings (such as a bank) have heightened security which can include motion sensors that could set off an alarm. Make sure that these are shut off during your event and also back in place, post-event. In addition to sensors, alarms can be a nuisance to deal with. Some alarms are set based on timing and some on doors or in hallways that you might need access to. The last thing you want is an alarm going off in the middle of an important announcement so make sure this is checked off your list.
Lighting in a corporate building is often a similar situation… Its rare these days that lighting is just a flip of a switch. Don’t leave your guests in the dark!
These unconventional venues habitually don’t have additional tables and linen, and glassware at your disposal which means renting all of these extras is now on your to-do list.
The same goes for Audio/Visual systems, they’re rarely built in unless it’s frequently used as venue. Think of lighting, screens, directional signage, etc.
Go through each step of the event because little details such as ice are critical and necessary. If they don’t offer it in-house, do you plan to get the ice delivered or do you have someone to pick it up on event day?
Think carefully about this one. When it comes to corporate events, parking is a way larger issue than it is for personal events (like weddings). When people go to a wedding, it’s typically a family to a car or a couple to one car… Corporate events always have more cars because almost everyone drives separately as individuals.
Also keep in mind, depending on time of day during the week your guests are likely often running from a meeting or their workplace on a tight schedule, to your event. To arrive to an event and have available parking is a huge relief for guests.
If parking is limited, consider making it very clear to your guests and share a map of where overflow parking is available, in advance. This helps them plan and helps your event start (and end) on time.
5. Increased Expenses & Time
At the end of the day, it comes down to your resources. Do you have the time and the budget to accommodate a unique experience for your guests?
One thing I can promise is that your expenses will increase. Remember the A/V we discussed, and the additional rentals you require? What about hiring additional staff, delivery charges, etc. Consider these expenses in advance.
Event Planners also charge more for these type of events. The time spent to plan this kind of an event compared to one with all of these resources offered in-house is significant.
By no means I am suggesting that a traditional venue is a better solution for your event. I prefer an alternative space, but make sure that it’s the right fit for your event. If you choose to move forward with a unique space, I hope that these small tips with help you overcome some of those different challenges you may face.
Have you experienced a unique challenge in the planning process at an untraditional venue? Tell me about it in the comments below.
Looking for the Perfect Unconventional Venue to host your next event?
Here are a few suggestions…
I love Mercedes-Benz Burlington as an event venue for a number of reasons. Its modern, sleek and high end, plus there are many different rooms and options to host your event in this space.
A great part about this site is that it is becoming more popular and with more events being held here, the staff are great at accommodating your needs. This helps relieve some of the challenges you may face. This is a great venue for your first unique event experience.
Radius is one of my favourite restaurants in Hamilton so naturally, it happens to be one of my favourite unique venues as well. For one restaurant it offers your guests a number of event options.
Since the restaurant is broken up into clear sections, it makes it flexible for your event. There is a specific spot in the restaurant if you want a cocktail style event (as pictured) and I also love their intimate, private dining space as well. In the summer they have a large patio space including their popular rooftop patio.
This beautiful old building, filled with so much character, offers a blank canvas to create a one-of-a-kind experience for your guests. Beautiful hardwood floors and exposed bricks are some of my favourite features in this gorgeous space.
There are many options with this venue depending on the size of your event plus it offers multiple rooms – perfect for event storage and staff rooms.