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Event orchestration | 15 February 2018

Event Venue Trends for 2018: Keeping Pace With The Space

Elias Grouhi

The best practices surrounding event venues are evolving just as quickly as the event industry itself. Make sure to stay on top of the event venue trends for 2018.

As we accelerate into 2018, the events space is rapidly changing — and we mean “space” in the most literal sense. In fact, you can expect some huge shifts in attendee expectations when it comes to the venues where you’ll host this year’s events. And with a 3.7% increase in hotels and 3.5% rise in air fares projected for the coming year, planners will need to do more than ever to convince attendees that their events are worth the bill.

In the following, we tackle upcoming event venue trends that you should keep in mind alongside other trends shaping the industry this year. We’ll also pose some solutions that will help you stay ahead of those shifts.


Unique Venues Are This Year’s Hero

If there’s a motto for planners this year, it might just be “think outside the hotel” or “so long stadium.” Demand for nontraditional meetings and events spaces already shot up by nearly 4% in 2017 and is expected to increase by another 3.8% in 2018 (AMEX Global Meeting Forecast).

Increase in demand for nontradition meetings in 2018

Unique venues leave a long-lasting impression on clients and make for events that are equally memorable. 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. It’s a quintessential ingredient for making your event more than just another conference or meeting.


Use Tools To Help You Source The Venue

Nearly any commercial space has the potential to be your next venue with the right approach to searching and networking. If you don’t know where to start, turn to a database that helps properties and planners connect. Databases like these allow you to explore the distinct attributes that set a given property apart as well as view photos, videos, and feedback from fellow planners.

Social Tables searchbar
Using a tool like Social Tables venue database (pictured above) can make life a lot easier.


Align The Space With A Client’s Unique Brand And Culture

Expand your search criteria to be sure you’re including properties whose brands are consistent with a client’s. In essence, if you’re planning for a prestigious law firm, you’ll want an equally prestigious and storied venue. 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. (Don’t sleep on pop-up events!) The more closely you can align the venue with the event brand and vision, the more memorable of an experience it will be. 

Your Event Space Might Not Be A Space At All

From real-time video conferencing and polling to the rise of virtual reality, new technology is making it possible to host your entire event in the cloud. Skeptical? Going digital with meetings and conferences can save both planners and attendees cost and headache, allowing your audience to stay put and still be immersed in the real-time event. By eliminating the barriers to conversion that come with travel and timing, you can expand your pool of potential attendees.


Virtual Reality

Nearly every tech giant is racing to become the leader in VR innovation, meaning that sophistication and availability are rapidly improving — and so is the reach of VR. According to Statista, VR technology is poised to reach one billion people by the year 2020. What does that mean for you? It opens up the possibilities of virtual attendance, while still allowing you to capitalize on the experiential qualities of an in-person event.

Statista graph on VR market size

Take a recent example from the YPO EDGE event in Vancouver, where the Guinness World Record was set for most people using virtual reality displays. During the presentation, the CEO and co-founder of Mobileye surprised over 1,800 participants by allowing them to drive a driverless car using virtual reality.


Live Translation

The future of translation is here. Google is set to release wireless buds along with the Pixel 2 that will translate up to forty languages in real time — and that’s just one small innovation in a tech space that’s rapidly growing. International business is growing right along with it thanks to the advent of live voice, sign, and text translation applications.

As these tools improve, there’s potential for events to combine video conferencing with real-time voice translation for truly global events. Look into live translation applications like interactio or Google Translate, and start thinking about how they can help you redefine the barriers of live attendance. This event venue trend is a good reminder to not only think of the physical event space but to carefully consider other attributes that would enhance the venue experience.


Think Locally, Act Locally

Another budding event venue trend is to keep things close to home. From local craft breweries to fresh-grown organic produce, society as a whole is “going local” with their money — and they want your events to go with it. This year, planners need to emphasize local elements more than ever and go beyond just food and drink. Doing so consists of finding and choosing venues that are important to the local culture and economy of the region where you’re hosting your event. Think: outdoor spaces, concert venues, historic buildings, food trucks, and locavore restaurants.

Partner with Convention and Visitors Bureaus

Working with a CVB is one of your best resources as a planner. Since CVBs are generally unique to a city or region, you’ll be able to find warehouses, outdoor spaces, and other non-traditional venues with unique local flair. In many cases, CVBs can even handle outreach for you and do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to sourcing ideas.

Find a CVB and ask for a hand with ideas such as the following:

    • Events at notable city museums and historic spaces
    • Menus by local restaurants and microbreweries
    • Pop-up events with local food trucks
    • Booking local speakers or musicians
    • Events in nature like agritours or snowshoeing


A 2017 report by Cone Commissions finds that 86% of consumers expect companies to act on social and environmental issues. Your attendees expect the very same from you and it’s not as simple as choosing a venue that recycles. More and more, society wants to associate with organizations that have sustainability woven into their corporate DNA. That means choosing venues that:

  • Are built to “green” standards
  • Are sustainably operated, have been independently assessed, and are transparent as to their sustainability initiatives.
  • Engage staff, speakers, performers, and attendees in their sustainability goals.
  • Measure their impacts and disclose their performance.


Once you find your venue, you need to work with them to incorporate sustainable elements. A great example takes place every year at Bonnaroo Music Festival, where they create a team of volunteers to bring on-site composting to over 100k attendees. In 2014 alone, they generated over 120 tons of compostable material and processed it on site.

Bonaroo Tweet encouraging composting


Wrapping Up

These event venue trends are just a few of the curveballs you can expect in the year ahead for meetings and events. As technology continues to push boundaries and the industry steadily evolves, the best practices surrounding event venues will follow suit. Keep in mind that other parts of the event world are also improving to enhance the experience for both organizers and attendees.

To check out how the rest of the industry is evoloving, download Bizzabo’s free 2018 Event Trends ebook.


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