Event in Special Venue? Pay Attention!

Special venues are hot. Take, for instance, an abandoned factory hall or monumental building. They can offer the ideal setting for your event. But be careful. You have to face a few challenges because not everything might be as easy as you'd expect.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Matt Simms
Matt Simms
New|2017-12-04 - 12:58u

Working with trade shows, I get to work with some special venues, and new tech is making the whole experience more exciting too.

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Special venues are hot. Take, for instance, an abandoned factory hall or monumental building. They can offer the ideal setting for your event. But be careful. You have to face a few challenges because not everything might be as easy as you’d expect.


Hi Babs. Welcome to our studio.


Thank you


Today’s topic is special venues. Special venues of course are wonderful locations. But there are also some challenges when choosing for a special venue.




Like, for example?


Well, I think there are challenges and possibilities…


Okay. Yeah.


I think the amount of special venues that are coming into the market the last couple of years, gives the manager unique opportunity to do something different, and go to different locations. Like a zoo, like a big factory hall. And to choose something different than just a standard congress center or hotel meeting rooms.


Yeah, that can be a bit boring sometimes.


Yeah. And I think you need a lot of decoration or at least to make it look very nice. While most of these special venues have their unique look and feel, and don’t necessarily always need that additional decoration or a lot of,


Yeah, they are decoration on itself.


Exactly, exactly. But there are of course challenges because most of the special venues, coming into the market, generally are theatres, or stadiums, or zoo. They’re not particularly, not always have the expertise in house that event managers expect when they’re calling a venue. So it’s very important, I think, for event managers to make sure that they ask all the questions that they ask, and never make any assumptions that something is the way it is, because it’s that way in a different venue, because there are limitations on how events can be organized within these special venues.


Like, for example?


For example, if you look at a stadium, or a zoo, they of course have football matches or the zoo is open to the public, which means that the space is not always available 24/7 a day which you might expect from a hotel venue. So your buildup has to be different, you cannot store all your equipment a couple of days before. So you really have to be logistically careful of how you plan your event and how much time you have to build up and to break down. Because may be you need to be out by the next day because it’s open to the public again. So it’s very important to make sure that you know what the limitations are, logistically, with each of those venues.


Can it also be for example electricity and things like that?


Absolutely, yeah. And I’m glad you mentioned that, because it also has to do with additional costs. So not only do you have to ask the right questions with regards to logistics and what’s possible or not, but also, sometimes the electricity supply is not the same as a hotel or congress center. So you have to make sure that you know what those costs are going to be. Because if they have to place a generator next to the location for your event, this could, this has a lot of impact on your budget.


Yeah, of course.


Which means you have to know beforehand.


Yeah, of course. When I hear all these challenges, my instinct says, well, let’s choose for the boring hotel room because at least we have everything we need. Why is it then… you already mentioned decoration, but are there other reasons why you should choose for a special venue?


Well, I think next to having a beautiful concert hall as your venue – which means, you are in the space, you don’t need to decorate it as much – you can also ask these concert halls, to help you may be providing some content for your event. For example, they have the connections within the music world or an orchestra. What can you do with them to combine the location and its content in your event? I think events are becoming more and more of an experience. Which means that it’s not just about speaking, it’s not about the delegates, but the delegates want something extra. And what is greater than using that music within the music hall to add to your event?


But maybe even planners can also learn from each other, by looking for example at reviews.


Yeah. I think review event on website is a great tool to look at what were the challenges of the location, that you might be able to overcome beforehand. But what was maybe some advice that they have given, what worked really well at the venue. So it’s definitely a way to look what your peers have done, and learn from your peers of how the experience at this location has been.


And from a venue perspective, what could a venue do to make life easier for event planners? I think, to be honest and have an open conversation of what the limitations are. And not to always say ‘yes’ when you know that there are limitations in the venue. Sometimes a sales manager really wants to sell the venue and thinks that, you know, it’s a small problem to overcome. For example, branding outside of a building within the zoo. But, as I’ve learned, that has a lot of impact on the animals in the zoo. So the zoo limits the amount of branding outside, actually does not allow, for example, branding outside. If the sales manager doesn’t know and promises it to a client then it’s a more difficult discussion to have after, than it wasn’t impossible. And also be creative in a sense that if something is not possible, not only say ‘no’, but give them an alternative that might be a good solution. And tell them also what other organizers have done within the venue that has been successful and give them examples of that.


Okay, great, Babs, thank you very much for sharing these insights.


You’re welcome.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.