Here’s Why Nontraditional Venues Are on the Rise

Laura Lopez By: Laura Lopez Posted on May 23, 2017

As much as we love a good ballroom or airwalled breakout meeting space, there’s something about nontraditional venues that can make an event unforgettable. It’s been proven that aesthetics and logistics have the most influence on site selection, so it’s no wonder planners are looking to plan their events that are high on visual impact. These days, hosting an event in a nontraditional venue isn’t just a passing trend — these venues are quickly finding their place as mainstays in the events world.

Here’s why nontraditional event venues are on the rise, plus some ideas on how to leverage these under-utilized spaces at your next event.


Nontraditional venues lend themselves to more event creativity

When you’re given a ballroom where the venue has an array of previous layouts that have worked well in the space, it’s easy to relegate the creativity of the event to what’s been done before. But what about planning your event at a venue that’s a blank canvas? Warehouses aren’t just for factories and storage anymore: they’ve continued to rise in popularity as a venue spot for special events and weddings. Warehouses can boast tons of vertical space and lend an element of historical charm that a ballroom simply cannot convey. These blank canvases also give planners carte blanche to leverage lighting and decor in creative ways.


On a similar line, nature-based venues may not be the first venues on your list, but they’re well worth planning in to give attendees a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Venues like national parks and zoos provide a unique creative challenge in planning around the environment you’re in versus building the environment you want to be in. These venues also tend to be a hit with clients who are committed to the leave-no-trace-behind mantra and green planners who seek to minimize their environmental impact from the meetings and events they plan.


Nontraditional venues are sources of untapped revenue in unused spaces

Demand for meeting and event space is at an all-time high. The conundrum that nontraditional venues face today is how to maximize revenue without purchasing additional real estate to do so. Today, they’re uncovering untapped revenue simply by using the space itself in a smarter way. Take libraries for example: Long after the library closes, the space can now transform into a revenue-generating event venue. The Library of Congress not only houses the largest collections of books in the world but houses event space for events as well.


For planners looking to get a hyper-local feel to their events, more often than not, they’re reaching to book their events in a restaurant space. Restaurants are leveraging tools that help put their unused space up for grabs when the restaurant doors would otherwise be closed, which helps planners discover their space. As an added bonus, restaurants can make any space bookable if they want to: Restaurants are riffing off chef’s tables and planning whole events in kitchens when not in use and are leveraging rooftop space as overflow for events that may take over different areas of the space. In each of these examples, the venue is tapping into a revenue stream that previously didn’t exist.


Venues want to show the range of events they host

Even if your property is considered a traditional venue like a hotel or convention center, there still exists nontraditional venue space that you might not have previously considered. Are you selling your parking lot as a venue space in addition to selling your ballroom and conference space? If you’re not, you may want to reconsider. We’re not suggesting planning an event a la a tailgate party but treating it more as an industrial, outdoor space for an event that will require more space. Showing off that your venue can also host events with a more industrial feel when the rest of your venue doesn’t necessarily match allows you the ability to capture a brand new segment of potential event planners.


Similarly, venues are leveraging their access to green spaces to host their events. While not every venue will have access to a large sweeping field, venues can take advantage of lawns, courtyards, and gardens that would otherwise not be leveraged as event space. This is a solid option if your client wants an indoor and outdoor feel to their events but doesn’t want to make the commitment to planning their event completely in either an indoor or outdoor space.


This is a guest blog from Social Tables. What examples of nontraditional venues have you seen rise in popularity? Share them via the comments or via Twitter @socialtables!

Laura Lopez
Guest Contributor

Laura Lopez is the Senior Community Manager at the Washington, D.C.-based event planning software company, Social Tables. The award-winning platform has been used to source, plan and execute over two million events since 2011. In her role, she puts the “social” in Social Tables through facilitating face to face and digital interactions between their growing, global customer base of over 4,000 strong. She is passionate about bringing together event professionals who share a common goal to make each other successful through on and offline engagement.

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