3d rendering of a convention center

Why Unique Conference Venues are Trending and How to Make Yours Stand Out

What makes a conference venue “unique?” 

Unique conference venues are not your traditional meeting spaces; they stand out. While some venues are truly one-of-kind and truly offbeat, others have one or two unique characteristics that set them apart, such as:  

  • Venue type 

Some of the most exceptional event venues in the world don’t look like traditional conference centers from the outside. Although they look and operate like separate businesses, many breweries, art galleries, museums, arcades, and restaurants host high-quality corporate events. 

  • Style and design  

Venues that look unique are easy to pick out of a lineup. They capture attention and draw the viewer’s interest. Does your venue feature impressive architecture, intricate interior design, or creative landscaping?  

  • Event services 

Whether providing exceptional onsite dining services, high-tech meeting rooms, or event staffing, unique conference centers offer services that outshine competitors. From valet parking to hybrid event technology, the most memorable venues provide products and services that set them apart.  

  • Attendee experience  

Hosting event after event at traditional conference centers can get a little boring. For busy planners or repeat event organizers, booking extraordinary venues is a terrific way to mix things and prevent events from getting stale.  

What are unique conference venues so appealing?  

Event organizers seek out unconventional venues for many reasons. They may have tight budgetary limitations, an unconventional personal style, or a desire to do things differently. Unique conference venues attract the attention of planners who want to mix things up and—  

  • Generate event buzz. Booking a unique or unexpected venue is an excellent way to drum up excitement for an event. Planners can promote the venue’s one-of-a-kind design, exceptional services, and other amenities to generate online engagement, which can boost event registration and attendance. 
  • Create more memorable marketing. Promoting a unique host venue to create event marketing that sticks in viewers’ minds. Create an event image that differentiates your conference from competing events and leaves viewers with a lasting image.  
  • Improve the attendee experience. Just like they stand out from classic conference venues in style and services, unique conference venues create an unforgettable attendee experience that competing venues can’t recreate. They help planners give color or relax the atmosphere of many types of corporate events

What challenges do unique conference venues face  

If your venue primarily functions as a non-conference business (i.e., restaurant or museum), planners and potential clients may not know about it or that it offers event services. Additionally, unique conference venues could face challenges due to— 

  • Lack of name recognition 

Smaller, independent, and unique venues tend to have less marketing money than their big-name corporate competitors. Therefore, they may find it difficult to get their names to stick in consumers’ minds, especially in crowded markets. 

  • Preconceived notions 

Depending on the type of venue you operate, consumers may already have preconceived notions about your business. For example, if you operate a bar known for live music or rowdy events, planners probably don’t associate it with business luncheons or corporate meetings. They may hesitate to book large, professional, or high-end functions.  

How to make your event venue more unique 

Identify excess funds in your venue’s budget. Use that money to highlight what makes your venue unique and improve your conference center. Consider sprucing up the interior, upgrading the exterior, switching up marketing strategies, and creating a superior customer experience. 

  1. Highlight what makes your venue special 

Establish the type of image—brand identity—that you want to portray. Consider what differentiates it from nearby venues.  

  • What specialized onsite services does your venue provide?  
  • What will your target audience find the most appealing about it?  
  • Do you offer live or hybrid event packages?  
  • How do you incorporate remote meeting tools? 
  • Do you serve coffee, snacks, or full meals?  
  • Do you provide fully catered meals or snacks and boxed lunches?  

Develop unique selling points to highlight. Showcase them in venue marketing materials and promotional campaigns to help spread the word about your business.  

  1. Partner with local vendors  

Build a network of reliable, reputable local partners who can combine specialties and event services. By partnering together, destinations can provide more appealing and inclusive booking packages. For example, create an overnight event package with a local lodging partner or cultivate a captivating conference experience with high-quality local cuisine. Collaborate with destination marketers and other hospitality industry associations to entice large businesses to visit your location.  

  1. Choose a memorable theme 

If you’re looking for a way to turn your conference center upside down and give it a breath of fresh air, consider redecorating your space with a memorable theme. Do you want to appeal to artistic-focused events? If so, create a trendy, gastro-pub atmosphere for laid-back conferences. If corporate travel is a big money-maker in your market, consider becoming your town’s most well-connected, tech-friendly venue. Generate buzz and attract corporate party planners with a speakeasy-themed event room or luxurious red-carpet-inspired entrance hall.   

  1. Incorporate interactive elements  

Video walls, live polling, touchscreen menus, virtual reality, and other interactive event tools help in-person hosts better connect with their online audience and expand the reach of hybrid events. In addition to elevating the experience of event attendees, installing interactive meeting elements can help your hotel staff, taking on time-consuming data entry processes and providing visitors with additional assistance. 

  1. Speed up online booking 

The Gartner Future of Sales 2025 report predicts that 80% of B2B sales interactions between buyers and suppliers will occur via digital channels. Additionally, 85% of planners who responded to Cvent’s 2023 Planner Sourcing Survey said they are more likely to select a conference center, hotel, or venue if they can complete the process entirely online without needing a representative’s assistance. Capitalize on shifting booking preferences by investing in digital channels and directive advertising, making it easier for event planners to book an event at your venue quickly.  

  1. Revitalize your lighting strategy  

For repeat event planners and experienced business travelers, meeting locations blend as time passes. Eventually, all the venues they visit begin to look alike. However, unique lighting elements, like antique wall fixtures and touchscreen control boards, could make your conference center more memorable. 

Thoughtful lighting elevates any event space and can significantly impact your venue’s atmosphere. While investing in showstopping features can help attract flashier, creative conferences, installing dimmers or spotlights can improve venue flexibility and enable you to host a broader range of corporate events.  

  1. Create custom signage 

Install custom venue signage that captures your brand image and vision. Create an eye-catching design for street signs, digital displays, and online campaigns. Directional signage will show visitors how to find your venue and guide them to essential facilities once they arrive. Vibrant roadside signage will make spotting your venue easier for passersby and traveling event attendees. Find unique event signs that match the venue’s non-traditional style. 

  1. Design an unforgettable entryway  

An inviting venue entrance will help event attendees and conferencegoers feel welcome when they arrive. Create an entryway that embodies your venue’s atmosphere and lets visitors know what to expect.  

Are you going for a hip and trendy artistic vibe? If so, consider choosing vibrant colors or patterned wallpaper. To greet guests entering a more relaxed, wellness-focused environment, line the entrance with lush greenery, cool tones, and calming fragrances.  

  1. Switch up seating arrangements  

In addition to traditional meeting room layouts, including boardroom, u-shape, and theater-style events, consider offering more unique setup options that make your ordinary space extraordinary. Feature picnic-style luncheon setups or patio breakout space to attract open-minded event planners. The more flexible your layout options, the more conferences your venue can host.  

  1. Embrace the art scene 

Cultivate a conference atmosphere that celebrates art and culture. Decorate the halls with photographs or paintings from notable newcomers to support rising artists. Consider installing a sculpture garden, booking live local bands, or selling handcrafted artisanal goods. Renovate historic spaces and embrace contemporary style, like Gallery NK in Washington, DC. Originally a carriage house, the renovated 85-person event space now features hardwood floors, high-end art, and exceptional cuisine.  

  1. Think outside of the box 

Corporate meetings don’t have to take place in stuffy boardrooms. Imagine hosting a brainstorming session with your business’s brightest minds while enjoying brunch beside a butterfly garden. Think creatively and look for outside-of-the-box opportunities to provide personalized, memorable event experiences.  

How do conference venues create photo-ops for attendees?  

With a hanging sign, standing display, or flashy digital signage, venues can build an attractive photo booth that advertises their property. By incorporating their logo, name, and other brand identity elements, conference venues can create recognizable signage that doubles as a photo backdrop. Create a warm, inviting place where event attendees can snap photos, and encourage them to tag your venue on social media.  

Finding unique conference venues near you 

If you’re looking for a unique conference venue but are unsure where to start, kick off the sourcing journey with your ideal host destination. Search unique venues in your target destination and research the conference centers that appeal to you, or contact a destination marketing organization to get an idea of what’s available. Before consulting a venue director or conference manager, write a list of questions you want to ask to ensure you don’t forget any crucial details you want to cover, such as:  

  • Venue capacity  
  • In-room technology  
  • Setup/teardown policies 
  • Noise restrictions 
  • Vendor options 

Put these unique conference venue ideas to clever use!  

Now that you know why planners and attendees are flocking to unique event venues, you can capitalize on what sets your property apart. If your event venue includes overnight guestrooms, consider incorporating a few creative hotel ideas that really work.