Challenges of holding events at unusual venues

Louise Goalen discusses the chalennges of holding events at unusual venues.

At our recent HBAA Forum, 2020 Vision, we included a series of ‘campfire’ sessions for our members and one of the most popular groups was a session around creativity in events and how to unleash this. Our clients are more often than not requesting cost effective, creative, unique and unusual venues that add a different dimension to their events and deliver the return on objectives they are looking for.

However, when you work with such an unusual venue there are some challenges that may trip you up. You must remember you are not working in a hotel where you have 24-hour service, and as long as you accommodate this into your planning and delivery of an event, the client should not notice the difference.

At the initial enquiry and proposal stage you must have a clear understanding as to what is included in the quote. The essentials of power, light, water and waste disposal don’t necessarily come as standard, let alone anything else like audio-visual equipment. It’s important to establish exactly what is available on-site and ten decided what you need in addition. It is always worthwhile to check with the venue to ensure there aren’t any suppliers you are not allowed to contract.

Making sure you’ve got a clear picture of how the space looks and feels is essential if you’re going to accurately map the delegate journey and create a successful event. First-hand knowledge of the venue is especially important when you’re working in unusual event spaces.

You’re unlikely to get standard catering facilities in unusual venues and it is often a matter of bringing everything in. This can include a full kitchen, furniture and crockery. Many venues have a preferred catering partner list who you must work with and it is worth the time to get more than one quote for your requirements. It is also advisable to get references from past events they have catered for.

Unusual venues are often just large open areas with no clearly defined spaces for break-outs or meetings. Having the vision to see how the venue can be divided up will help make best use of the available space for your planned event. Make sure your production team knows what you’re trying to achieve with your event so they can use the space effectively and creatively, ensuring you are delivering the maximum return on objectives for the client.

Making sure the venue supports your client’s organisation brand values rather than clashing with them will present delegates with a seamless brand experience, vital to ensuring they leave with a clear understanding of the important event messages.

There is a lot to consider when you work with event venues so make sure you share the vision of the brief with the venue’s team so that they buy into the creative thinking you have developed for the event. Forming a collaborative partnership with the venues will go a long way to delivering amazing events.

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