The right space
I’ve always enjoyed organising events, they represent the perfect opportunity to directly engage with guests and also allow you to physically bring your brand to life.
Of course events come in all different shapes and sizes. They have an important role to play in terms of your internal communications strategy and are a proven way to develop your team, build strategy, and deliver key messages. Whereas for external audiences they provide the opportunity to deliver your message, launch your products and campaigns, celebrate your success and engage with stakeholders.
From experience, I’ve consistently found that choosing interesting, less typical and even unusual venues has helped to me to deliver events that have proven to be popular with guests, and highly successful in meeting the objectives for the event.
There is, and always will be, a place for choosing a conference room in a hotel. In many cases these offer a convenient location, the dedicated facilities you need and competitive delegate rates. The downside is that guests, especially those who attend a lot of events, will be equally familiar with this format. This can weaken the all important invitation to your event, whereas seeing that an event is taking place in different venue is more likely to generate interest in the event itself.
To help illustrate what I mean by “interesting” venues, here’s a small selection of places I have experience of, and hopefully they’ll offer you inspiration for your future events.
This has to be one of my favourite venues……..
This is Room 617, The Observatory in Penarth Pier Pavilion. Yes, its the view that does it for me, and this has proved to be the perfect space for strategy meetings.
I’ll admit to being a little obsessed with piers and if you’re in the South West then its worth considering the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare as an event venue. The pier pavilion is home to a range of modern suites including the spacious Regency Suite, which is ideal for conferences, AGMs, product launches and team awaydays. And there’s the option to include rides in the Pier’s indoor theme park for your delegates - what’s not to love. I’m sure if I was based in Bristol I’d be arranging a few team days and conferences at this seaside gem.
It’s possible to be even more creative with your venue choice. For example, I once needed to arrange a round table lunchtime discussion for industry leaders in North Wales, and choose to hold the event in a recently opened boutique B&B in Llandudno.
The Escape Boutique Hotel and B&B is a special property, a restored Victorian villa with a carefully considered contemporary interior. By having exclusive use of the property is was possible to create an atmosphere free from distractions where the discussion could take place. Guests were intrigued to be invited to this venue, and this curiosity helped to secure the full attendance the event required.
There are a number of very special boutique B&Bs across the UK and these are worth checking out to see if they would work for your event. As they are mainly owner operated, this also means your marketing spend will be helping to support a small business.
Galleries and museums.
These unique venues range from the very grandest of classical settings to highly contemporary spaces, that are suitable for a wide variety of events. From experience, the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea and the Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno have both proved to be exceptionally successful event venues.
In a function room it is harder for speakers to engage fully with the audience, as everyone is sat on the same level. So for talks and presentations setting the event in an auditorium offers the advantage of giving your guests a clear view of the speaker and the presentation, and the speaker can connect better with the audience. In South Wales the universities have a wide range of lecture theatres to choose from and these make a great setting for conferences, talks and presentations.
Cinemas also provide an interesting alternative, many can be hired at times when films aren’t showing, and they offer the advantage of being fully soundproofed which creates a very special atmosphere that seems to naturally command attention. Also, depending on the cinema in question, it should also be possible to run your presentation on a very big screen.
Many smaller venues are run as social enterprises, including: theatres and community spaces etc. They often have spaces that are available to hire, and are worth considering as an ethical way to direct your marketing spend to support good causes. I’ve recently attended events in Canolfan Soar in Merthyr Tydfil that offers a range of multi-purpose rooms to hire. This innovative centre promotes the use of the Welsh language and is easily accessible from Cardiff, making it a worthwhile option for a team awayday.
These are just a few examples of interesting venues I’ve come across or had the pleasure of organising events in. There are plenty more, and they are worth checking out because a well considered venue:
Adds interest to your invitation
Can provide a more interesting experience for your guests
Has the potential to support your brand
Makes your event more memorable
Can support community based social enterprises and small businesses.
It’s worth remembering that the venue itself won’t make your event a great event. It’s just one of the many details that need to be absolutely spot on to ensure your event is remembered for all the right reasons.