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meeting & event resources

Articles, tips and trends to generate new ideas, save money and help you execute successful meetings, conferences and events.

are you tech savvy?

At unique event locations, "IT"often stands for "Included" and "Top of the line"

June 25, 2013 — Event and meeting planners know there is one essential facet that can't be ignored: technology. From A/V services to Wi-Fi, LCD projectors and sound systems, state-of-the-art technology is as important to the success of your event as the catering or guest speaker - sometimes even more so. Yet what planners might not know is that often technology packages are more affordable and just as top notch at non-traditional venues as they are at hotels.

"We have great lighting systems and built-in sound, a hi-def LCD projector and screen systems, plus Wi-Fi. Together they create the total package that others in our area cannot compete with," says Jesse Vogel, director of sales at the Palais Royale at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, Indiana. "Planners don't have to mess with speakers, wires, space-taking screens and A/V carts; ours are all built in, and at ZERO cost to the client. Plus we offer an in-house A/V department, free of charge, that will work with you from start to finish."

It's much the same scenario at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where all rooms and facilities include wireless and most have screens and digital projectors. That's not the case at the nearby Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, which charges for in-house A/V equipment and only offers complimentary Wi-Fi with group bookings of 20 rooms ore more.

"All of our theatres come with an in-house, state-of-the-art sound system. Here too, all of the lighting equipment, risers, standard microphones and most other equipment is included with the rental of the facility. Our clients only pay for the time it takes our staff to prepare for their desired set up," says Niels Hagen, event services coordinator for the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts in Calgary, Canada.

He also adds, "We have screens of several sizes, LCD projectors, free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, flip charts, easels, laptops and portable sound systems for any spaces that don't have it in-house - all at a very reasonable price and almost always lower than hotels or convention centres." Another one of the main benefits of working with Epcor Centre, according to Hagen: "we don't charge for the use of electricity, which can get pretty expensive at some hotels or convention centres."

So the next time you book your meeting or event, consider which venues are most tech savvy and save your bottom line!

decorating on a dime

unique event venues save time and money with built-in decor

May 20, 2013 — Think about how much you invest into making a hotel not look like a hotel. The windowless boardrooms you try to cover up with big graphic posters. The generic ballrooms you spend countless dollars sprucing up with rental flair, only to pay more dollars to break it down at the end of the day. If you've never considered a museum or zoo, arena or scenic college campus for your next event location, now may be the time to do so for this reason alone: built-in décor.

Paula Katz, director of tourism and event sales at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, states, "Our venue can help with the planner's budget since the spaces all offer beautiful views and therefore can cut down on décor that might be required at other, traditional sites." Some estimates suggest a savings of $1,000-2,000 per event. Examples of the National Aquarium's ambient event settings include the Underwater Viewing Area with views of swimming dolphins, Main Aquarium with four levels of aquatic life exhibits and the Aquarium Tent that offers views of the outlying harbor.

Christine Bourquin of the Vancouver Art Gallery says, "It's rare to find elegant, unique venues in downtown Vancouver that offer a 'turnkey' setup," especially one with such unique décor. Housed in a turn-of-the-century building that was formerly a provincial courthouse, Bourquin says the event settings at the gallery are limitless. "The building itself presents a dramatic exterior backdrop for photography and film shoots. Inside, locations include the grand foyer and rotunda-with a soaring dome and twin marble staircases-and two of the building's original historic courtrooms, complete with judge's stands and rich hardwoods." Bourquin estimates that the built-in backdrops save planners $1,000-2,000 per event on décor and rentals.

And these are just two examples. All of the unique venues we call members have spectacular, unique and memorable event spaces that come as is. Sure you can still add your personal touches to a unique event location, but that's all it takes-touches-to make your gathering a memorable affair.