Convention centers. Exhibition halls. Hotel ballrooms. All of these are go-to venues for event professionals. But while the demand for these types of traditional venue spaces will remain relatively flat in 2017, demand for nontraditional and unique event spaces will increase by 3.8%.

So how are event planners using these unique spaces? And more importantly, how can you take advantage of this growing trend? Read on to learn three ways unique venues can help you host more interesting events, expand to new locations, and wow your guests.

1. Support Your Larger Events

Traditional venues are a tried-and-true choice for your multi-day conference with multiple sessions and a tradeshow floor. But when hundreds or thousands of attendees converge for these larger, flagship events, you may also need spaces for smaller, ancillary events.

“We definitely try to stick to nontraditional venues for receptions,” says Karina Belyea, the events manager for Eventful Conferences. “After being inside a hotel all day, we try to plan a fun, offsite receptions for people to enjoy. We have found ourselves in JP Morgan’s oldest bank vault in NYC, in House of Blues venues, and in rented out breweries.” In the future, Belyea has her eye on the Space Museum in Houston or the National History Museum in New York.

These unique venues break the mold and help you deliver a great attendee experience. The wow factor also encourages them to share the moment on social media. Imagine attendees on a rooftop loft sharing the view with followers on Instagram, using your event hashtag!

2. Widen Your Event’s Horizon

Sometimes the best conferences are ones that hardly seem like a conference at all.

Imagine your attendees catching the keynote address at an art gallery in the morning. In the afternoon, they can head over to the breakout sessions in open-air tents. In the evening, they can walk a few blocks to network over cocktails on a rooftop overlooking the city.

Multiple, nontraditional venues have helped Techweek become the nation’s leading technology conference and festival. “We want Techweek to stay interesting, quirky, and full of character,” says Techweek’s Director of Operations Tom Lawlor.

“We find that a nontraditional space gives people extra incentive to break out of their shells and enjoy what’s around them with others. By holding our events in multiple venues, it highlights unique companies and spaces in the community that people might not usually get to experience. It also gives people who live and work in different geographic parts of the city multiple chances to engage in the conference.”

3. Take Your Brand on the Road

Hosting a series of events across many locations can extend your flagship event’s brand. It can also help you create deeper connections with attendees and expand into new markets.

In 2013, Techweek saw the opportunity to expand their conference beyond Chicago, and have since grown to six different cities. With the help of local community partners and sponsors, they were able to develop content that appealed to local attendees and select venues that showcased the local spirit.

“Every city has it’s own culture — especially within tech industry,” says Lawlor. “Since Techweek’s mission is grounded in the economic development of an entire market, we love to show off the best spaces the area has to offer, especially if they are owned by successful companies that are meaningfully contributing to the local tech ecosystem.”

If you have high concentrations of attendees in different regions, consider using a venue marketplace like Peerspace to find a nontraditional venue that attendees will love.

“Events are increasingly more about creating wow factors,” says Event Manager Blog’s Julius Solaris. “The same people in the same room won’t cut it for modern audiences. Unique venues stimulate curiosity and engagement with the experience…[These] venues are often incredibly creative spaces that challenge attendees to break traditions and evaluate the event on the basis of what they see, rather than on their expectations.”

No matter how you use nontraditional venues, thinking outside the ballroom will make any event an unforgettable experience. Want to learn more about how you can engage and excite attendees at your next event? Download “Thinking Outside the Ballroom:The Rise of Nontraditional and Unique Event Venues” to learn more.

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