When it comes to event venues – traditional spaces like convention centres, restaurants and hotels are the norm. They’re reliable and comfortable but they’re also becoming a little stale. Edgy and unconventional is what stands out these days and planners who are willing to take the risk can often see some big rewards.
Take Meeting Planners International (MPI) for example. In January I was asked to sit on a panel at one of their events to chat about my experiences working in unconventional spaces. True to theme, the event was hosted at the TELUS Convention Centre in – not one of their traditional event spaces but a +15 hallway that connects the convention space with downtown Calgary. It was brilliant! They transformed an ordinarily plain hallway into an intimate space that worked perfectly for the event.
Choices like that are never obvious and can take a lot of guts. One of the first projects I ever worked on involved transforming the Olympic Oval into a winter wonderland for 7,000 guests. A few years later, with only a months notice we moved a 3,000 person awards ceremony into a sports multiplex on the outskirts of Edmonton and then there was that time we held a country music concert on the roof of a newly built building! All of these events stand out as some of my most memorable experiences and each one came with big risks.
The logistical challenges with these types of events can be huge but the creative solutions that come with them can also become some of their most impressive attributes. As we discussed in that amazing +15 MPI event, there are three big considerations every event planner needs to keep in mind when taking on an unconventional venue.
The more heads in the game, the better the perspective. I get to work with some of the most talented event professionals in the business and every time we come into a unique space, it’s always the team effort that makes the biggest impact. From the initial site visit forward everyone approaches the space from their own lens, asking different questions and troubleshooting in different ways. Very little about these spaces is routine and a collective approach ensures that every detail and option is considered.
Every time one of my clients considered stepping outside a traditional event space, it took courage. But when the risk is high so is the reward so don’t be afraid of trying new things. Trust your venue’s advice and get creative. As long as you’re clear about your goals and form an attainable plan, the sky is the limit.
There’s obviously a ton of creativity required in an unique space but there can be just as much required to make a conventional space feel more unconventional – once again, like our +15 example. Consider atypical spaces like kitchens or hallways for example or perhaps a different entrance way to grab your guest attention.
Everyone seems to have been there and done that these days, which makes creating memorable events all the more challenging. Don’t be afraid to try new things, collaborate and think outside of the box – your guests will thank you for it.
Interested in trying something new? Reach out to Jennifer James and her team so we can help create your next unconventional event!
*Photos courtesy of: Picture This, One West Event Design, The Calgary Telus Convention Centre, MPI Calgary Chapter