Lure of the unusual

The desire for unique business event venues is intensifying, fuelled by factors such as a hunger for authentic experiences and greater demand for smaller, more focused gatherings. Aventri’s vice president-channel and partner management, Brad Langley, tells more

Aventri’s partnership with VenueBook clearly indicates a growing need for unique, standalone venues among corporate planners. Is this trend present and growing in Asia-Pacific?
Over the past few years, demand for non-traditional meeting spaces has been growing worldwide. The venue is one of the most important drivers for attendance and attendee satisfaction. Attendees today are looking for unique cultural experiences, and planners are finding unconventional venues are a great way to deliver on this promise.

This is good news for event professionals in Asia-Pacific, home to stellar non-traditional venues.

Event spaces in high demand here include restaurants, art galleries, museums, bars, historic landmarks, speedboats and sailboats for group excursions, renovated mansions, theatres, as well as venues in botanic gardens, parks, aquariums, towers, zoos and more.

Is a growing need for shorter, more focused meetings one of the factors driving the demand for such venues?
Yes, that’s one of the factors. Non-traditional venues work well for shorter events, including meetings within meetings.

Let’s say you want to entertain customers during a large international conference at a convention centre. Hosting a meeting at a unique venue nearby is a great way to deepen connections and provide a richer and fuller cultural experience.

Switching up the venue to a favourite local restaurant, boat excursion or vineyard and winery, for example, can provide a refreshing change of pace and a look at the distinct flavour of the destination.

What other factors are driving this trend?
Rise in experiential events, (the preferences of the) millennial workforce, and growth of small meetings.

Global meeting owners and planners today are focusing more on the experiential aspects of meetings and events, according to the 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by American Express Meetings & Events.

(The theme) and content (now) demand more attention; organisers are increasingly looking at the venue as a way to deliver unforgettable, immersive experiences.
This brings us to the next trend. (The millennial generation) is expected to form the largest group of business travellers worldwide starting in 2024.

Here are a few general insights Aventri has gathered about millennials’ attitudes on meetings and events: the Internet and globalisation have produced a generation that’s keenly culturally aware. Millennials value broadening their global perspective and experiencing different ways of life first-hand.

This means going beyond the meeting room and experiencing the host destination. Non-traditional venues fit the bill, providing authentic local experiences.

The trend toward small meetings has also driven interest in unique venues.
According to GBTA’s How Do Companies Approach Simple Meetings? study, half of all corporate meetings are simple or small meetings.

Small meetings encourage two-way conversations, feedback and bonding among attendees. Non-traditional venues provide more intimate settings for achieving vital business goals.

What does this mean for traditional venues?
Traditional and non-traditional venues can work hand-in-hand.

When attendees come to a city for larger events, you may want to change things up with smaller supporting events. From concerts and wine tastings to dinners with key clients at iconic restaurants, unique venues help you deliver the unexpected…after being inside all day for a conference.

How do you expect the Covid-19 pandemic to impact venue choice when events resume?
When meetings resume, there will likely be changes in the size and type of meetings. We also expect to see more emphasis on health and safety, food service, hybrid events and contract clauses.

Some other predictions that apply to both unique and traditional venues are: an increase in local and regional drive-to events as air travel remains a concern for some; smaller meetings with more spacing between seats will be in-demand; and more events may take place in large museums or outdoors in private parks, botanic gardens and sports stadiums, with plenty of room for people to spread out.

All venues must meet more stringent health and safety standards. Before booking, planners will make in-depth enquiries about behind-the-scenes operations, including sanitising procedures and food preparation. During events, attendees will want to see plenty of hand sanitisers available.

Physical distancing protocols (mean that) planners and venues (will need) to provide more space in lobbies and public areas. Bar set-ups will need to factor in (safe) distancing too.

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