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Publisher's Letter

By Michele Nichols


As we look forward to welcoming 2017 in just a few short weeks, many event professionals are starting to lay out forecasts for meetings and events in the new year. But one trend that many probably didn’t expect is unique facilities taking a huge share of the market.

According to American Express Global Meetings & Event Forecast Reports, the biggest rise in the industry has been the surging demand for non-traditional meeting and event venues. In fact, for two consecutive years our niche community has been outpacing every other type of traditional property, including lower and mid-tier hotels and luxury and resort properties.

It’s a rather shocking development. Non-traditional venues weren’t even on this same report a few years ago, and now we’re leading the pack. What this swing shows is that there’s a need and desire for something new in the meetings and event industry, and venues like our members are stepping up to the plate to prove their worth in a crowded marketplace. Historical and cultural venues can provide professional day meetings and memorable parties and events. Colleges and universities offer free or low-coast A/V and technology services that can’t be matched elsewhere. And camps and retreats can offer the same modern-day amenities as their traditional counterparts.

We believe in their capability so much that every year we honor these leaders in our Best of Awards, focused on a range of categories, from “best venue on a per diem” to “best venue for transportation” and “best venue for LGBTQ-friendly events.” Each award recognizes the incredible service and attention to detail these venues provide that has helped move the needle for our segment and provided the opportunity to be noticed on a more public scale.

This year is no different—with this latest edition devoted to the Best of Unique Venues in 2016. Inside these pages, you’ll discover the venues that lead the way in a number of areas, including premium technology, unique catering, and desirable locations. We also salute the venues that have created award-winning marketing campaigns, often with small budgets.

As Unique Venues wraps up its incredible 30th anniversary year, we would be remiss not to also honor the members who have been with us since the beginning and gave our organization a chance when the rest of the industry wouldn’t even acknowledge us. We chose to name these dedicated few as our “People of the Year,” beginning with Cathy Grieves, executive director of conference and event services at the University of Denver who has been in the industry for 42 years and with us since day one.

While we didn’t always know where we were going, we did it together and have now arrived at a destination we could only dream of with 2017 as the year we really come out on top.