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.
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.