by Matt Alderton | February 21, 2017

Convention centers, conference rooms, and hotel ballrooms are standard fare for meetings and events. More and more groups, however, are seeking venues that scream "special" instead of "standard," according to event ticketing platform Eventbrite and venue booking site Peerspace. In a new report published last week, the two companies highlight the growing popularity of nontraditional meeting spaces -- including airport hangars, castles, and even parking lots, to name but a few examples -- and offer tips for executing successful events inside them.

"The erosion of formal business culture and the growing demand for unique experiences have made nontraditional venues increasingly viable -- and appealing -- for event organizers," Eventbrite and Peerspace assert in their report, titled "Thinking Outside the Ballroom: The Rise of Nontraditional and Unique Event Venues." "Whether you want to support your flagship event or take your show on the road, nontraditional event venues can help you deliver jaw-dropping event experiences to attendees demanding them."

Eventbrite and Peerspace attribute the rise of nontraditional meeting venues to changes in office culture, which is becoming more open and informal; attendee demand for one-of-a-kind experiences; and the rise of transformative technology, including venue marketplaces like Peerspace that make it easier for companies like Google, Deloitte, Facebook, and Buzzfeed -- all of which have hosted events in nontraditional venues -- to discover unique spaces.

"Transformative technologies like Uber and Airbnb have turned underutilized assets, such as cars or vacation homes, into billion-dollar industries," Eventbrite and Peerspace observe. "This concept is expanding to commercial properties."

The report highlights several types of nontraditional venues that are ripe for use by meetings and events. Among them: warehouses and studios for pop-up dinners and corporate events; lofts and rooftops for cocktail parties and meetings; art galleries and museums for galas and fundraisers; and farmhouses, vineyards, and villas for retreats and sustainable events.

Of course, unique venues also promise unique challenges, acknowledge Eventbrite and Peerspace, which offer tips on topics such as budgeting (many nontraditional venues charge by the hour, but have day rates for those who ask), scheduling (some venues, like museums, can only accommodate events after hours), and d├ęcor (nontraditional spaces don't always come furnished, which might require planners to rent basics like tables, chairs, and linens).

Still, the benefits far outweigh the challenges, Eventbrite and Peerspace assert.

"Imagine your attendees catch the keynote address at a nightclub in the morning, attend breakout sessions in the open-air tents covering the parking lot next door, and then network at a cocktail party on a rooftop two blocks away," they conclude. "Who needs a convention center?"


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