Focus on the Where: Impactful Events Redefined Through Non-Traditional Venues
Non-traditional venues: Wingstop Brand event at shoe boutique
As anyone in the event planning world knows, it is harder than ever to “wow” a crowd. Consumers are savvy, educated, and not easily impressed. C-level executives are regularly wined and dined in every possible way, and millennial influencers have seen their share of quirky and offbeat offerings. Brands must determine how to get people in the door, and set their products apart from the competition. Luckily, the solution can be as simple as a change of scenery! With this in mind, we at the Event Studio love to flip the script and explore choosing unique, non-traditional venues and locations for events.
Venue is one of the first details determined for an event, and is a driving factor for many other event elements. Finding the right venue for ANY event can be a challenge, but finding a venue that is right for a brand’s goals and target audiences is an added challenge. While a large undertaking, the rewards of changing things up and taking a unique approach to this aspect can be hugely impactful.
It is a well-researched fact that our surroundings often dictate our opinions. When you put as much thought and creativity into selecting a venue as you do into the message and product you are promoting, your guests will walk away with a new appreciation for your brand, a better understanding of your products, and a higher likelihood to become ambassadors of your message. This is an opportunity to start a direct, targeted conversation with your consumers, in a setting that you have selected specifically for that purpose.
What makes a venue unique? Many planners will tell you art museums, aquariums, libraries, or barns are unique venues, because they are not a hotel or “rental venue.” While we don’t necessarily disagree, we like to think bigger. Take chances. Find locations that are not hosting events regularly – or ever. Caves, fields, retail stores, gardens, airport hangers….these locations bring bigger challenges, but also bigger results.
There are many benefits to choosing an outside-the-box event location, including:


Cost – A non-traditional venue will likely not require the same rental costs that a standard venue will charge. You’ll have free reign on which vendors you bring in – as opposed to being forced to use preferred vendors – allowing you to make cost-effective decisions.


Experience – Providing access to a unique or normally off-limits location will give your attendees a one-of-a-kind experience that they cannot buy for themselves. This will pique their interest and help drive attendance.


Press – This venue approach brings with it an innate buzz that will drive pre-event excitement and post-event feedback, and makes for a better case study later on.


Brand Impression – The unique experience provided can help to change your consumers’ opinion of your brand, and help them to connect the dots between the product that you are offering and the message that you are promoting.


When exploring non-traditional venues, keep in mind that there are also challenges and more work may be needed to turn the venue into the desired event space. While savings can occur from the venue rental, additional expenses can add up due to a la carte needs, incremental insurance, and workarounds for addressing needs that a typical event venue would already have addressed – these will not necessarily outweigh the venue rental savings, but are important to keep in mind.
Another challenge can be the unfamiliar territory. These locations are not accustomed to hosting events, so traditional needs have likely not been explored, and planners need to be prepared to address these early on: load-in capabilities, back of house facilities (storage, restrooms, kitchen), space capacity, permitting needs, food + beverage service, and Wi-Fi/power requirements are all factors that need to be considered.
Not every event needs to break the mold. Given the pros and cons, we recommend following a few simple steps when exploring if an unconventional venue makes sense for your next event.


1. The audience.
Let your product and your audience determine how necessary it is to find a unique venue.


2. Do your homework.
Determine your event goals, and use those to drive venue considerations.


3. Think big, but stay on-brand.
You can go non-traditional without going against the priorities and mission of your brand.


4. Use what you have.
Play up the unique qualities of the space, and find ways to incorporate those into the event.


5. Less is more.
Don’t overwhelm the crowd by adding too many elements.


Looking for an example of how an unconventional venue changed the dynamic of an event? Click here, to read how Advantage’s Event Studio helped Wingstop bring their brand to life in New York City, within the walls of an urban sneaker boutique.
Although a larger undertaking than a traditional event, there are numerous benefits to brands thinking bigger, and finding creative ways to appeal to consumers and entertain their key stakeholders. The value created by these types of events not only drives measurable ROI, but can help shape the identity of the brand moving forward.