How to be an Innovative Venue
In the past, the event industry has typically veered on the traditional side of technology and processes. But in a sweeping movement, event technology and its various applications are revolutionizing the industry and propelling it forward into the future. So how do you become an innovative venue?
Essentially, it used to be that many venues would be considered state of the art or innovative when they could simply provide fast and reliable Wi-Fi. As stated in an article on eventmanagerblog.com, “Wi-Fi is hygiene. Not having Wi-Fi is like not having toilets.” Though a drastic comparison, it isn’t far off from the truth. No longer is having a stable Wi-Fi system enough to call a venue innovative. As the event technology landscape begins to shift, so does the definition of an innovative venue.
Spaces Impact People
Productivity and the creativity of employees can be tied directly to the space with which they are given to work. Spaces need to align with the goals of an event and help generate networking opportunities, as well as, knowledge sharing. The venue’s overall space will affect your attendees’ opinions and behavior. An event space should inspire people to collaborate and learn, and many innovative venues have been redesigned for increased flexibility to help event planners meet their event objectives.
Ways to Further Venue Innovation
One of the most important parts of innovation is sustainability. It’s no secret that our resources are declining, and we must make better use of all resources. Many innovative venues implement green practices into their business processes and infrastructure. Reusing resources for multiple events, locally sourcing materials, and partnering with local companies are just a few of the ways venues are practicing sustainability.
One of the most impressive achievements for venues that focus on their sustainability efforts can be certified and, therefore, promoted. The most prominent examples of this are a LEED certification, ISO 14000, APEX/ASTM, BOMA BESt, Waste Wise, and Energy Star. These certifications take a large amount of resources and effort to achieve and result in high-tech and innovative conference and exhibitions centers, athletic complexes, performing arts halls, theaters, and other venues.
2. Unique Food & Beverage Options
Gone are the days of hot dogs and hamburgers at every event food vendor. As attendees begin to become more health conscious and concerned about the quality of the food they consume, events should provide food that meets their expectations and dietary needs but can also provide them with an enjoyable experience featuring unique food choices. Provide food that has customizable options allowing the attendee to build their perfect meal.
Attendees are interested in experiencing as much about the destination as possible in the short amount of time spent there, therefore, providing locally-sourced ingredients, and local food options will cater to that want. For example, a venue in New Orleans should serve Creole or Cajun food, and a venue located in Memphis could serve Memphis-style BBQ.
3. In-House Event Services
Many event venues often outsource services through other companies and have contracts with them to gain a percentage of the revenue from the sale. Many venues are able to find new revenue streams by providing additional services that were not previously available. Some venues are beginning to provide services in-house, instead of contracting outside vendors.
Tradex, in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, kept hearing their attendees request better and healthier food options. The managing director, Brad Styba, was attentive to attendee feedback and was evaluating new revenue streams. Management made the decision to move from prepackaged, frozen foods that only required a quick reheat, to freshly prepared and healthy food created in the existing, but unutilized, kitchen. Brad hired a chef and catering manager to prepare meals for events in-house, and now generates a 75% more revenue from each event!
Another venue, Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin provides nearly any service that an event planner, exhibitor, or attendee could need during an event. Alliant Energy Center is a 164-acre campus with five different event facilities, as well as a campground and hotel. Bill Franz, CFO at Alliant Energy Center, said: “We are a full-service rental agency so pretty much everything a show could need we provide in-house.” These services include audio/visual, catering, internet and Wi-Fi, decorations, lighting, labor, boot equipment, ticketing, and more. This is a highly innovative method to a service offering, as it provides a seamless experience with a singular contact that can handle everything from start to finish.
4. Event Technology
Being an innovative venue doesn’t necessarily mean you have all the latest event technology, it does, however, mean that the venue provides the best event technology for the space available. Many innovative venues use integrated technology that communicates with each other for a more seamless experience for planners and attendees.
Even more so, there are innovative venues adding mobile device charging stations to allow attendees to charge their devices in order to keep using the event apps and other interactive technology accessed through an attendees’ mobile device. Venues also use geo-fencing to help attendees navigate an event floor more quickly and efficiently through the use of beacons and mobile alerts. Some venues have HD cameras that are used in conjunction with beacons to monitor and manage foot traffic within the venue space.
Other venues have begun to implement virtual reality and 360 HD photography into their business; virtual tours that help event planners and organizers easily picture what their event will look like in a specific space or venue. This in effect makes the selling process even easier for venues. Having state of the art audio and visual services and equipment is a common characteristic of innovative venues. Highly innovative venues use extremely advanced audiovisual technology, such as NH Hotels, which provides 3D video and even hologram projections of presenters.
5. Versatile and Mixed-Use Facilities
Filling dark days and finding new streams of revenue to support facilities is more pertinent than ever. Venues can no longer reserve themselves for a single-use venue that hosts specific event types. Innovative venues have been built and remodeled to better accommodate a wide range of event sizes; mixed-use venues can handle it all. Multi-functional spaces that provide a more comfortable and appropriate spaces for each event tend to feel more organic, relaxed, and comfortable, and make attendees feel at ease while in the space.
The highly sought-after flexibility in a space has also been coined as “drag and drop” venues, meaning that the spaces are so customizable that they can mold and fit any event. Take a look at SwissTech Convention Center, in 15 minutes the facility can be transformed and configured into a completely different setup. The center consists of multiple auditoriums fit for different size audiences and events that can be merged into one large room or broken down into other configurations. The center can shape to the events being held within it due to mechanisms: sliding walls that move with the touch of a button to open up or close a room, and Gala Technology which is hidden below the floor to add and remove seats.
Constant Improvement for Continual Innovation
Innovation only lasts as long as it takes for the next best technology to come out, therefore in order to remain an innovative venue, there is a need to continually adapt to the changing market, demands, and technology in order to remain relevant, and even more so, ahead of the curve. Innovation is always a constant push forward towards better, more efficient business processes and more effective attendee engagement and interaction. Venues must constantly improve their technology, processes, and offerings to maintain a competitive advantage.