Non-Traditional Event Venues: Going Beyond the Ballroom

When it comes to events, environments matter. Think about it, event environments impact attendees the minute they walk into a venue or space—and they have a profound ability to impact how your audience feels, thinks, and interacts with the content inside. What makes non-traditional or unexpected event venues so powerful is the way they’re able to elevate creative thinking, generate buzz and excitement, and spur conversation.

The most important takeaway, however, is as it goes with any event element, venues/spaces should be authentic and relevant to a given brand, content, and target audiences. No one space fits all and this week, we’re taking a deep dive into non-traditional event venues and what makes them so impactful. Come with us!

Why Go Beyond Traditional Event Venues

When we think of traditional event venues, we typically think of convention centers, exhibition halls, hotel ballrooms, and the like. We’ve all been to them and we all know them well. But if one thing is for sure, it’s that attendees are seeking to go “beyond the ballroom” and more than ever, are craving “outside the hotel” experiences.

“No one remembers ‘that one time’ they were stuck sitting in a hotel ballroom for 8 hours, but they will remember the time their company took over a local brewery or had a pop-up event in a hip public space,” notes Bizzabo.

In fact, according to our own research, 79% of B2B attendees are actively looking to attend events in unique/non-traditional event venues.

“Our minds thrive on novelty, and when you take your guests into an unexpected space, they gain a fresh perspective on where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re learning,” notes BizBash.

So, not only do non-traditional event venues provide the perfect platform for brands to give attendees a fresh environment that they’ll remember, they also give attendees a renewed outlook, leaving them feeling genuinely excited and pumped for an event. What’s more, non-traditional event venues are more often than not able to be customized to fit your exact needs AND they can be used in a multitude of ways.

This takes us to our next point, which is how to find the right unconventional space that will work for your brand AND allow you to maintain your authenticity.

Finding the Right “Non-Traditional” Event Venues For Your Brand

Once you’ve made the decision to go with non-traditional event venues, the most important thing to keep in mind is maintaining your brand’s (or client’s) voice and signature style.

“If you’re planning for an edgy tech startup, you might want to lean toward spaces such as craft breweries or even consider planning a pop-up event in a public space,” notes Bizzabo.

The most important thing to keep in mind? Any venue that you choose should be aligned with either your or your client’s specific vision and the goal of the event. It should also fit your personality, compliment the event’s overall tone, and allow for an experience that will be naturally memorable and refreshing for attendees.

“Choosing a unique event venue that has synergy with the brand is what will set you apart from the competition,” notes Endless Events. “It can even attract people outside your usual market—which is only a good thing for brand awareness.”

A few great places to start when deciding on non-traditional event venues? Think museums or art galleries, warehouses, planetariums, rooftop gardens, historic homes, wineries, parking lots (hello Google CES!), or even airport hangars! The list could go on and on, but the point is the possibilities are limitless.

What’s more, taking events outside is becoming more and more of a trend (38% of brands plan to hold events/parts of their events outdoors in 2019) and when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense! Being outside can help the brain de-stress and re-focus, which is great for attendees who are taking in a ton of content.

The top takeaway? Whether it’s a break in the schedule that allows attendees to step out for fresh air, al fresco meal spaces, or outdoor programming, attendees will appreciate the opportunity to step outside (assuming it’s not snowing). The message is clear, non-traditional event venues are a welcome change for attendees and gives them a chance to take in your event in a whole new way and is likely to leave a lasting imprint in their memory!

Housekeeping Items When Choosing an Unconventional Venue

One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing any kind of non-traditional venues is ensuring that it meets your logistical needs! A venue can be beautiful but can it handle the event you’re throwing? In this section, we’re sharing a few of the items it’s important to keep in mind when making the decision to go the unique route with your space.

“Since many spaces will be pretty sparse with the amenities, make a “bare minimum” list that you need to have and find a space that can meet it.,” says BizBash. “Don’t sacrifice event quality for a splashy venue.”

So, what should you keep in mind? Make sure the venue has good reception and WiFi capabilities! This one is huge. Also, if it’s not outdoors, ensure it has nice natural lighting as this can have a large impact on the overall tone and feeling of the event. For a space that’s either indoors or outdoors, make sure it’s got enough space to hold your attendees and of course, restrooms! How’s the seating situation, the electrical components, and technology capabilities? Is it easy to access for attendees? Is These are all important factors to consider when choosing non-traditional event venues.

“Even with traditional spaces, venue logistics take time,” notes EventBrite. “Start your planning as soon as possible. Add buffer time to deal with unexpected requirements.”

Giving yourself plenty of time and access to the right resources when selecting an non-traditional event venue are key, but with the right planning, the end result is one that will leave attendees in awe and ready for your next event!

For brands, experimenting with new and unique breakout environments can help to foster more engagement, create buzz around your event, expand your audience and elevate brand perception. With the trend leaning towards non-traditional event venues, and a plethora of spaces and resources available, there’s no better time than the present to step outside of the box and go “beyond the ballroom”!

Want to take an even deeper dive into what B2B attendees are looking for when it comes to non-traditional event venues? Download our Consumerization Stat Pack 1: Venues and Spaces here!

Posted by Dyan Cornacchio | Request as a Speaker

Social media and creative writing connoisseur. Obsessed with my golden retriever, pop culture, and pizza. Nothing makes me happier than being home on LI, relaxing at the beach with my family.