Extraordinary venues – a blessing in disguise?

During my many years in the event game, I’ve worked with some very capable venues where they knew exactly what they were doing. Good on them! However, I’ve also stumbled upon more than a few that are…let’s just say: not really up for the job.

Extraordinary venues have become a bigger part of the event landscape as the meetings and events industry focus more and more on giving the user (participant, delegate, attendee…whatever term curls your toes) an extraordinary experience. Nobody wants to throw another run of the mill event.

But sometimes these alternative venues can be a blessing in disguise – are they actually prepared for the job?

We all know that an event venue is more than a restaurant trying to make use of their space during the day – and more than a screen on a tripod and a projector on a table. We want the venue to be part of our event, to understand what will be going on during it, and to present to us the best solution for this event. It is a partnership, and the venue representative needs to ask the right questions in order to customize the event to our needs.

Unfortunately, I have experienced more than a few alternative venues that…

… never answers E-mails – but we event managers know that you need everything in writing, so it is to no use for us that the restaurant manager insists on calling you on the phone with answers to all of our questions

… are too eager to sell the space for off peak hours but forget that it takes an effort to accommodate the client who is willing to try this out. Our questions needs answering and yes, some of them are far out, but we are preparing for everything!

… doesn’t have the proper training to handle a meeting and so doesn’t ask the right questions to the planner

On the other hand, as an event planner you are obliged to get to know what kind of a venue you are dealing with. Do you remember to ask all possible (and impossible) questions before booking the venue (“Are there cloak room facilities?”, “Do you provide extension cords for everyone’s computer?”, “Is there a time limit for the use of the room?” etc.)? And do you remember to prepare for the unexpected? Everything might not run as smoothly as in a traditional venue.

And don’t use an extraordinary venue just because it is cheaper than the more traditional venue. Usually, there is a co-dependence on quality and price!

Please, don’t misunderstand me! This is not a campaign to avoid alternative and extraordinary venues nor is it a glorification of the traditional venues like the hotels. And I’m definitely not saying you should avoid one or the other…or choose one or the other. It all depends on the objectives of your event.

Do you have any advice for dealing with extraordinary venues?

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