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Publisher's Letter

By Michele Nichols


When I think about the words we hear most in our industry today, “flexible meeting space” always comes to mind. Every venue has it—the movable walls, the interchangeable seating, the breakout of breakout rooms. We sometimes get carried away with the idea and often miss the point that “flexible” is not just a logistical selling proposition, but rather a state of mind. Reading this issue’s cover story on “The Place To Be” makes this idea even more transparent.

The four venues profiled in this interesting case study all have something very important in common: the willingness to adapt. When a family was looking to find a space for an unplanned funeral reception, the last-minute request was no problem for the Old Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C. When a sales team found that they needed more food than initially ordered for a luncheon, Iona College in New York made it happen before anyone finished their first course. There’s no better definition of “flexibility” than these examples.

Just like their hotel counterparts, non-traditional event venues are complete professionals with the knowledge and service mind to execute successful meetings and events. The planners we interviewed for this story know it. All of them were new to Unique Venues members but all admittedly walked away with the appreciation that the museums, colleges and cultural institutes they booked could do events just as well, if not better, than the standard they had been used to in the past. Most have committed to becoming repeat clients and wondered why they didn’t know about these venues before.

It’s reasons like these why we pride ourselves on putting together our magazines and newsletters to spread the word about the beautiful “Secret Gardens” on page 43 that shouldn’t be secret anymore or letting planners know about the trend on page 24 that non-traditional venues have started before their competitors to better engage the LGBTQ community. These unique venues are often the ones tagged for being “a long shot” or “out of the box,” but look at what happens when you don’t have confined limitations: You have something truly unique.

Our good friend and meeting industry colleague James Mahon taught us this principle nearly 30 years ago as one of the first true champions of Unique Venues, and after his recent passing, our tribute to him is to continue the conversation until the whole industry knows we are in fact the place to be.

Michele Nichols, Founder