These days, everyone wants to experience the “new” and “different” before anyone else does and that’s why unconventional venues are becoming more and more popular for events. When it comes to corporate events, modern office buildings with floor to ceiling windows and beautifully branded spaces are the perfect backdrop.
As a planner, I love unusual venues because they typically come with a completely new experience and it’s something your guests really look forward to. Wouldn’t you rather attend an event somewhere you’ve never been before?
With an unfamiliar space, we face unique challenges so make sure you’re aware of them.
Since this trend is not going anywhere, here are a few things to keep in mind when hosting an event in one of these unique spaces.
In conference centers and hotels, there is typically a loading dock, and trolley carts with staff to help bring in your event supplies. This is usually not the case when it comes to beautiful, modern office buildings. Make sure you confirm timing for loading and unloading with the venue. This can be a bigger issue than you may initially realize. If your event is outside of regular business hours, you might need someone to be available to let you in early and lock up late, behind you.
It takes a long time to set up and tear down, especially if your venue does not offer in-house staff. Bring your own trolley carts and your own team of muscles.
2) Security & Lighting
Security motion sensors and alarms are typically synced on a schedule according to regular building hours and since our events often happen after the work day, it is important to look into this.
Some buildings (such as banks) have heightened security which can include motion sensors that could set off an alarm. Make sure that these are shut off during your event and also back in place, post-event. In addition to sensors, alarms can be a nuisance to deal with. Some alarms are set on doors or in hallways that you might need access to. The last thing you want is an alarm going off in the middle of an important announcement. Make sure this is checked off your list.
Lighting in a corporate building is often a similar situation. It is rare these days that lighting is just a flip of a switch. Don’t leave your guests in the dark!
Unconventional venues habitually do not have additional tables and linen, tableware, or glassware at your disposal which means renting all of these extras is now on your to-do list, as well as your expense sheet, unless you have your own rental inventory.
The same goes for Audio/Visual systems, they’re rarely built in unless the space is frequently used as a venue. Think of lighting, screens, directional signage, etc.
When it comes to corporate events, parking is a much larger issue than it is for personal events (like weddings). When people go to a wedding, it is typically one family to a car or a couple to one car. Corporate events always have more cars because almost everyone drives separately.
Depending on the time of day, your guests are likely running from a meeting or their workplace on a tight schedule. To arrive at an event and have available parking is a huge relief for guests. If parking is limited, consider making it very clear to your guests and share a map of where overflow parking is available, in advance. This helps them plan ahead and helps your event start, (and end) on time.
If the parking lot charges, try to arrange for complimentary vouchers to be distributed to attendees. It is such a treat for guests to receive a complimentary parking pass. It is not only the $6 that is the trouble, but it is more so for the convenience of not having to line up with 100+ other guests to pay as they leave the event.
5) Kitchen Facilities
Some office buildings have kitchen facilities that your caterer dreams of! Not only do they have space to prep, but to cook and heat with plenty of counter space to plate the dinner. Unfortunately, not all office spaces offer the same.
Make sure you have at least a room for your caterers to prep and clear. This space needs to be closed off from your guests. Have the caterer take a look at the space in advance to make sure it works for them. Depending on your menu, your caterer might be able to pre-cook items and simply plate them on-site.
6) Increased Expenses & Time
It comes down to time and resources. Do you have the time and the budget to accommodate a unique experience for your guests?
Your expenses will increase. Remember the A/V we discussed, the additional rentals you require, hiring additional staff, unexpected delivery charges, etc. Consider these expenses in advance.
Event planners also charge more for these type of events. Consider the time spent to plan this complex event compared to one with all of these resources offered in-house at a traditional venue.
I am not suggesting that a traditional event venue is a better solution for your event. I prefer an alternative venue, but make sure that it is the right fit for your client and event. If you choose to move forward with an unconventional venue, I hope that these tips with help you overcome some of the challenges you may face.
Have you experienced a unique challenge in the planning process at an untraditional venue? I’d love to hear about it!