Each year, event organizers struggle to keep their attendees engaged: another conference or symposium, another lecture auditorium, another exhibit hall. So how does a structured and long-lived industry keep fresh and current? Well, these five alternatives to traditional exhibit halls are a great place to start the process in 2018:
A Conference Afloat
Cruise ships aren't all conga lines and buffets - many well-respected conventions choose this convenient combination of getaway, hotel, and conference venue rolled into one. The usual headaches of booking room blocks and coordinating backup hotels and transport are virtually eliminated, and there are built-in opportunities for mingling and social gatherings after daily presentations are concluded. Additionally, the allure of a cruise ship conference draws, understandably, a great deal more interest than its land-bound counterparts.
A Real Home Run
Few people associate their favorite sports teams with industry conventions, but a new trend in sports arenas might just change all that. With a center stage that's visible from every seat, built-in projection screens, concessions, assigned seating and a second-to-none acoustic system, the atmosphere might just inspire some customers and vendors to "play ball" when it comes to placing new orders or forming partnerships.
Enriching and Enlightening
Museums and aquariums typically host crowds of tourists by day, but more and more are branching out into event hosting as well. Holding your event in a local museum, zoo, or aquarium will not only bring an unexpected atmosphere of excitement to typical booths and presentations, if the facility is non-profit it might just hold a lucrative tax break for you, as the event organizer, as well.
Back to School
Colleges and universities often have beautiful green space, an abundance of conference rooms, and convenient infrastructure - public transit, food delivery, and so on - nearby to enhance your event. Consider holding your convention on the grounds of a local university, particularly during academic break periods like the spring or winter holidays. You'll have all the space you need, and the educational institution will get a valuable financial benefit from your presence, as well.
While it's more well-suited to smaller crowds of 50-100 or so, a large enough restaurant can give you both meeting space and an instant catering solution, all under the same roof. Most major cities have at least one large, often historic restaurant that would be willing to turn the floor over for a daylong event. Not only will you already have all the tables and chairs you need at your disposal, your guests won't have to look very hard for appetizers or a fresh drink as they listen to presentations and mingle with their peers.
While hotel and exhibit halls remain a popular choice for industry events, make no mistake: they're hardly the only choice on the block. Picking an unusual event venue will make your convention that much more memorable, and will also likely increase attendence for the following year as word gets around. Nothing, after all, brings out the latest and greatest quite like a professional change of scenery!