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Have you ever received an invitation to an event and had a lukewarm reaction until… you saw that the event was being held in a fabulous locale? According to a study from the Journal of Convention & Event Tourism, you’re not alone. The study found that event attendees hold the venue (and local attractions) in higher regard than the event’s topic, networking opportunities, sessions offered, and cost.

As an event manager, you’ll still have to provide an enriching and immersive experience for attendees but venue selection will be one of the most critical decisions you’ll make during the planning process.  But what type of venue will pique attendees’ interest and ensure your desired registration rate? Upscale hotels and top-rated conference centers are nice but (yawn) rather overdone.

Why not think out of the box and offer attendees an experience that can serve double-duty as a business meeting/workshop/trade show and mini vacation? When considering a particular unique venue, it should not only be close to local attractions and have stellar amenities – it should be large enough and have a layout that accommodates your attendee list and technical needs (i.e. AV equipment).  During the Covid-19 pandemic, the selection of a larger venue (preferably outdoors) will allow for adequate “social distancing” and is an ideal way to show attendees that you care about their health and safety.  

Representing different regions of the United States, below are several “off the beaten path” venues to consider. A business-related event held in a mansion, castle, or winery? Definitely.

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) –  New York City, NY

Not only is MOMA one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world, but it has the capacity to accommodate your next event.

Ciccone Vineyard & Winery – Suttons Bay, MI

How would you like to offer attendees an opportunity to experience rolling hills, lush vines, and a striking view of West Grand Traverse Bay? This rustically charming venue has “star appeal” considering it’s owned by Madonna’s father who offers wine selections that honor the “Material Girl”. The capable staff is happy to work with other vendors to ensure a seamless experience.

Detroit Yacht Club – Detroit, MI

One of the oldest (and largest) yacht clubs in the world, the Detroit Yacht Club is adjacent to the Detroit River.  This impressive venue boasts magnificent Mediterranean architectural details and a spectacular view of the Detroit skyline. The club has both intimate and large spaces, accommodating events of varying sizes. It’s perfect if you’re seeking a unique venue that’s rich in history and grandeur.

Ebell LA – Los Angeles, CA

If you want to treat attendees to an Old Hollywood glamour experience (complete with gourmet dining), consider this venue. It was built in 1927 and offers three spaces in which to impress attendees with your fresh content: one of the ballrooms, the art salon, or the courtyard garden.

Planet Hollywood – Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY; Orlando, FL; Disneyland Paris; St. Julian’s, Malta; London

If you’ve ever visited a Planet Hollywood’s location, you already know that your attendees will be in for a truly epic visual experience.  Your content will have to be interesting to compete with this venue for attendees’ attention.  Flexible spaces featuring iconic movie scenes and rare Hollywood memorabilia will help create an event attendees won’t forget.

Oheka Castle – Huntington, NY

If you want an elegant setting with a rich history and modern-day luxuries, Oheka is the way to go (what can I say, it’s a castle after all). It’s designed to impress top executives and corporations in one of the 32 luxury guest rooms and suites, plus it offers 23 acres of formal gardens and lawns.  The versatile function rooms can accommodate events of 10 to 400 attendees.

Oheka is situated on Long Island in the serene town of Huntington, NY, between Manhattan and the Hamptons.

Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, AZ

Choose from indoor or outdoor spaces at this 140-acre botanical garden located in Papago Park. Attendees will be surrounded by over 4,000 varieties of desert plants and wildflowers and treated to a sumptuous gourmet meal. This venue can work with any budget or vision. It’s an ideal choice for events with a relaxed vibe.

East Ivy Mansion – Nashville, TN

Built in 1867, this Italian-Renaissance style mansion has been home to numerous owners and has survived several natural and man-made disasters with all of its original fixtures intact. The property has various rooms and areas for workshops, seminars, and fundraisers. Small group activities and meetings can take place in the intimate parlor, walnut library, or dining rooms. The spacious marble atrium/ballroom and a grand living room can accommodate larger groups. Tents and/or tables and chairs can also be set up in the gardens and courtyards.

Chicago Cultural Center – Chicago, IL

The Chicago Cultural Center is one of the city’s most popular attractions and the cultural heart of the downtown Loop neighborhood.  The stunning landmark building takes up an entire city block and is home to the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome. Located across the street from Millennium Park, it can accommodate everything from small corporate meetings to large galas in spaces that include galleries, halls, and a theatre.

Final Thoughts

It bears repeating; location is the most important factor to consider when planning your event. If one of the venues above piques your interest but you don’t want to travel outside of your immediate area, you can always search for a similar local venue.

Although most of the venues above don’t offer lodging (you’re trying to get away from hotels, remember?), you’ll still appreciate eShow’s Housing & Travel Management module to help you manage reservations and track your room blocks.

Let eShow’s interactive Exhibit Sales & Floor Plan Management  module help you bring all of your exhibitor and floor plan tasks into one space. It can transform your hard copy floor plan into a virtual floor plan and allow exhibitors to select booths, add sponsorships, and make payments.

No matter how captivating your chosen venue is, you’ll still need to manage seat and/or table assignments. Our Banquet & Seating Management module makes it easy for attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors to purchase tables and sets for single or multiple events.

To find out more about how eShow can be of service, contact us today for a no-obligation demo

As an event planner, you must be on the lookout for ways to improve the event experience and ensure that your attendees make the most of their interaction. In the modern era, this means that you need to embrace the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) and understand that there are many ways to use these tools to make your event a success. Certainly, this is an ever-changing landscape as new products emerge, and existing products develop, and you’ll always need to be flexible and ready for the next “big thing.” In the meantime, here are six ways that you can capitalize on AI when planning your next masterpiece.

1. Early Planning

When you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, you need all the help you can get. You may be given a brief by a client but will still need to do a lot of detailed work. You have to locate venues, open discussions with appropriate vendors, and even reach out to people who may be interested in attending your event once it springs to life. In the past, you may have had to do all this manually, trawl through records or reach out to industry sources. Today, you may be able to use AI algorithms to find those perfect matches in a fraction of the time.

2. The Ubiquitous ChatBot

According to Exhibitor Magazine, the global chatbot market is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 24% per year, reaching a value of $1.23 billion in 2025. While this is hardly new technology and, in fact, can be traced back half a century, the chatbot is nevertheless an element of AI that you simply cannot do without.

When you incorporate chatbot software, it can interact with people with a very high level of efficiency and can mimic human conversation remarkably well. You can program your chatbot to handle a wide variety of different questions at the event, and this will take a lot of the pressure off your staff members. Users can “talk” naturally or type questions and expect a considered answer.

Use the chatbot to handle all your frequently asked questions, give access to the event schedule and provide valuable feedback at the end. This will generate real-time insight into how attendees feel, their satisfaction levels and their reaction to your overall support. And the good news is that chatbots are relatively affordable these days – and scalable to any size of event.

3. It’s All in the Presentation

If you’re organizing a multifaceted event where attendees can choose their own agenda and where you may have multiple breakouts or peripheral meetings, AI is your friend. You can create a matchmaking engine powered by AI, which can provide recommendations to each attendee, so they can make the most of their participation.

The AI can analyze each attendee’s profile or behavior to suggest the most appropriate breakout. This will overcome the random nature of large events and make sure that these people are using their time most efficiently. Use the information you may gather during registration or other accessible data (if you have the permission) to make this type of AI work best.

4. There Is an App for That

You can use a variety of other apps on the event to further personalize the experience. If you have attendees from many different countries, remove the language barrier with a translation app powered by AI. Create a separate application to provide collateral so that you do not have to rely on paper handouts or schedules. 

This AI can also generate a survey to gauge satisfaction, and this can be rolled out at the point of delivery or midway through your event. You will get timely feedback and won’t have to wait for attendees to respond manually, as this often leads to lower quality data. eShow Event Management Solutions created a personalized event app that can be used as a mobile hub for all info on your event, connect with all attendees, and provide event support from start to finish!

5. Handling Safety and Security

You need to ensure that your venue is as secure as possible and that attendees are well cared for. Use AI to help confirm each attendee through biometric registration or facial recognition. You’ll be able to scan your guest as they pass from one part of the event to another and avoid close contact with a human being. Of course, in these socially distant days, that can only be a good thing.

Utilizing a pre-existing RF ID method to contact trace and provide safe parameters for your attendees is a great way to increase non-invasive COVID event processes.

6. Help with Forward Planning

You may have a finely tuned “gut feeling” that can tell you whether your event was a success or not, but still, you need measurable data so that you can make the next event more successful. Consequently, you need to use AI to gather that data, examine your event metrics and calculate your bottom line. 

Using the aforementioned apps, you’ll be able to gather a lot of this data during the event itself and before your attendees forget the details. You may even be able to make changes on the fly, but principally, you will get granular and high-quality data that can aid with your future decisions and planning.

With this type of focused data, you will know whether your keynote speakers were a success, whether people could navigate their way through the event and whether they felt that their time was used effectively. Use the information gathered by your AI today to improve the performance of your AI software on future events.

Crafting Your Event Management Solution

Whether you plan something that is in-person, digital or hybrid, you will need a raft of support and specific tools to help manage your event ecosystem. This is why you should turn to an industry-leading event management company like eShow. Here you will find professional tools and web-based solutions that can help you plan any size of event from beginning to end – and all underneath one umbrella. For example, build a registration hub at the outset, create a floor management plan, or handle attendee housing and travel. Make use of the Virtual Event Management platform, an all-inclusive solution that is built on experience.

So, as you put more of your faith in AI, work with a company like eShow to integrate these methods and make your next event a roaring success.

While hybrid events provide much-needed flexibility in an uncertain world, they’ve also created a new challenge for event planners and organizers. Now that attendees have the option of enjoying events from the comfort of their homes, planners must work even harder to make in-person events attractive.

The cost of travel, changing COVID restrictions, and the potential risk that comes with exposure to large crowds have all combined to make large events in exotic locations far less appealing to both organizers and attendees. While large events are still possible currently, they come with a lot of complications. This has led forward-thinking planners to embrace smaller, more exclusive events and unique “micro-experiences.” The shift has been well-received, making it likely that micro-experiences are here to stay.

What is a Micro-Experience?

Before diving into the details of how to make this strategy work for you, it’s helpful to explain exactly what we mean by “micro-experience.” In simple terms, this is a small, intimate, and hyper-personalized event that is either a stand-alone affair or an offshoot of a larger event. Micro-experiences often have a luxury feel, taking the “boutique” events of the past to a whole new level.

The Benefits of Micro-Experiences

The general consensus is that holding smaller outdoor events is a key to reducing airborne transmission risks. This makes them more appealing to attendees who are hesitant to go out into larger crowds right now. However, it’s important to remember that managing fear is not the same as creating value.

While fewer attendees may mean fewer risks, many may worry that it also means fewer opportunities to network and create new business opportunities. To overcome this concern, planners must make lower attendance numbers a selling point rather than a drawback. Luckily, this is easy to do. Aside from the potential health and logistical benefits of restricting crowd size during a pandemic, there are many other advantages of incorporating micro-experiences into your events.

While lower attendance numbers may mean attendees make fewer connections, they also focus on quality rather than quantity. A more intimate environment fosters a greater engagement with both the brand and with each other. It also allows attendees to feel like an integral part of the event, rather than just a number.

Working on a much smaller scale allows you to create unique experiences that audiences otherwise could not access. In addition, customizing every possible aspect of your event gives you the ability to appeal to a particular niche audience, fostering deeper engagement and increasing brand loyalty.

3 Successful Types of Micro-Experiences

What type of micro-experiences are the most effective? Event organizers are currently finding incredible success with exclusive luxury experiences, personal development and team-building activities, and wellness excursions. Let’s take a closer look at each.  

1. Exclusive Luxury Events

Offering exclusive, one-of-a-kind luxury experiences is one of the most effective ways to attract event attendees. From an open-air adventure on a private yacht to an event held “backstage” in an otherwise restricted area, the key to success lies in offering a truly unique and fully immersive experience. 

Limiting an event to 100 or fewer participants and including perks like live musical performances and private catering increases the appeal, particularly for attendees who have been cooped up at home for the majority of the past two years. It’s also relatively simple to incorporate a virtual audience into this type of micro-experience, allowing you to keep the in-person event intimate while also selling more tickets and attracting potential sponsorships.

2. Personal Development and Teambuilding

With smaller crowds comes the ability to offer hands-on workshops, intimate team-building activities, and other opportunities to focus on personal development. When planning these types of micro-experiences, it’s important to give attendees the VIP treatment. For example, you can turn a series of outdoor team-building games into a truly memorable experience by following it with a catered dinner on the beach and a bonfire.

3. Wellness Getaways

Many corporate events are information-heavy, making it essential to provide opportunities to briefly step away without completely checking out. Incorporating micro-experiences designed to help attendees relax and unwind will help make the overall more enjoyable and memorable. 

Incorporating activities like yoga and meditation sessions will give attendees the break they need so they can come back refreshed and ready to re-engage. Most venues can also easily set up the necessary equipment to record these sessions and broadcast them to your virtual audience as well.

Personalization is Key

Limiting the size of an event does not automatically turn it into a micro-experience. If you want to create something truly memorable, you must take personalization to a whole new level. Offering highly customized experiences will help you connect with your audience faster and more deeply by showing that you understand and care about their individual needs. 

Throughout every element of the event, ask yourself how you can create more choices for attendees. This could be anything from using movable furniture to allow guests to make their own seating arrangements to giving attendees a wealth of session options to choose from throughout the day. 

For hybrid events, it’s essential to customize the digital side as well. From choosing the way the text scrolls on the screen to offering a choice of uniquely branded cursors, there are many ways for virtual attendees to enjoy a highly personal experience. For both in-person and virtual attendees, look for ways to offer curated suggestions. Show them how they can customize the way they interact in the moment and provide personalized ideas for things they may enjoy doing between sessions.  

Prepare for the Events of the Future

All signs point to it being the perfect time to take a step back from huge events and focus on creating highly personalized micro-experiences. While planning hybrid events, it’s also important to create an incredible in-person experience while providing an equally unique virtual experience. Doing so isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. 

eShow can show you how to create incredibly memorable micro-experiences that skyrocket your event engagement. From a full-featured virtual event management platform to gamification and travel management, we offer a comprehensive solution for all of your event planning needs. Contact us today to schedule a free demo!