As event organizers, finding a venue can be the most stressful part of the planning process. Falling back on stale bars and outdated hotel conference rooms is easy. They’re plentiful, they can be price-friendly, and they help cross one more thing off your list.

As Chicago’s Marketing Manager, I’m frequently asked, “Do you know of any venues for {insert type of event}?” While I may not have a mental database of available spaces, I do have a formula to get your event organizer wheels turning!

Vibe + Size = Venue

Start by identifying the vibe of your event and its attendees. Will it be fresh, urban, and colorful or sophisticated and formal? Next, be realistic about how many people will show up. The last thing you want is a space that you could never fill or an overflowing room of cranky attendees.

Once you have the idea of the vibe and size, it’s time to think outside of the box!

Co-Working Space These little gems are all the rage, and not just amongst nomadic employees. Often boasting very open floorplans, co-working spaces are ideal for gatherings large and small. They’re great for anything from think-tank events to sippin’ socials. Most will offer their space for a small fee, and some might even work with you for free!

Art Galleries/Lofts Galleries and loft spaces are ideal for high-end events or casual gatherings. If you’re working with a recently opened location, consider asking for the space for free in exchange for marketing them in your pre-event communications and on social media.

The Great Outdoors Public parks are underutilized. Give your city’s Park District a call and see what they offer. Worried about catering? Work with a food truck to provide memorable food for your attendees!

Corporations Planning a charity event? Large corporations love opening their doors to philanthropic traffic. Ask to speak with the office or events manager. The facilities are big, shiny, and they usually have great views (score!).

Condo/Apartment Facilities Some condo and apartment buildings have uncommon spaces or rooftop areas that are free to reserve for residents. We’re not going to tell you to use your friends for their rooftops, but we are.

Fitness Studios If your event is health or wellness related, consider this route! Yoga and fitness studios are always looking to showcase their facillities in hopes they can attract new members.

Hopefully this helps to get your wheels spinning as you think about the venue for your next event. What other tips would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below!