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Traditional vs Non-Traditional Venues

Traditional vs Non-Traditional Venues

Sean Hughes | Las Vegas, Minnesota, Nashville, Orlando


Traditional is somewhat of a loose term.  Venues that are historically deemed “traditional” don’t like the term because “traditional” can be sometimes misinterpreted as “ordinary”.  This can sometimes be the case, for example, if I told you to close your eyes and picture a “traditional” venue, what are you envisioning?

Chances are, you are thinking of a ballroom, country club or a museum type space, and you wouldn’t be wrong either.  For the most part, a traditional venue is an event space that’s primary function is hosting events.  This means that the space is designed to be flexible, probably a little larger, neutral, and climate controlled.  These are tremendous advantages that traditional spaces will have over non-traditional.  Non-traditional venues may have several of these components, but typically will not have “all of the above” advantages.  Traditional venues are still very popular because they are dependable.  You know exactly what you are getting, and you can expect the same thing each and every time.  Depending on your budget, you can certainly dress up a traditional space with unique furniture and decor as well to give it any look you desire.

A beautiful Ballroom


A Boring Ballroom



As you probably know, with every advantage comes a disadvantage.  The biggest sacrifice that most traditional spaces make is uniqueness.  With all of the advantages that traditional spaces gain (i.e. flexibility, size, climate), they can also be the same things that may be disadvantages, depending on the client.

In 2020, it seems as if everything has been done before, and the last thing a client wants is to have a forgettable event.  That’s why planners and brands are pushing the envelope to try new places and do things that haven’t been done before.  In order to think ‘outside the box’, planners need to think ‘outside the ballroom’.  They have to find spaces that haven’t been done a thousand times (by all their competitors).  They need something unique.  They need something within budget.  They want their guests to remember.  Enter- NON-TRADITIONAL SPACES.

A Non-Traditional venue is a space that (most likely) isn’t always an event venue, but serves other purposes.  It could have an indoor / outdoor component.  It could offer a stellar view.  It could be difficult to work with, considering it may not be primarily an event venue.  It could be entertaining.  It could be memorable.

The word “traditional” literally means long-established, habitually done, used or found.  So naturally, it’s hard to fit ‘non-traditional’ venues into a box, but some examples of non-traditional venues are-

Rooftop Spaces

Art Galleries

Concert Venues

Yachts / Cruises

Wineries / Breweries

Airport Hangars / Warehouses

Unique Restaurants / Bars


Outdoor Spaces

This is only the beginning, you could go on for hours when thinking of non-traditional spaces.  Think: Venues where they do not normally host events, this makes the venue more unique and rare, which leaves a lasting impression on the guests.  The clear advantage to working with a non-traditional venue is uniqueness, however there are many other reasons why it may be advantageous-

  • Vendor selection – Most traditional venues do events all the time, which means they know what they like and vendors know how to operate with them.  Most preferred or exclusive vendors have commission arrangements as well with the venues.  With non-traditional spaces, you will likely have more flexibility to work with any number of vendors, thus creating an open market for fair competition.
  • Creativity – If you are working with a non-traditional space, then you likely already have the creative juices flowing.  But most non-traditional spaces include some sort of built-in theme or entertainment, then you can take that creativity to the next level and really make it your own.
  • Branding – You want guests to remember who threw them an awesome party, and non-traditional venues can offer just as cool non-traditional branding opportunities.
  • Venue Fees – This can vary venue to venue, but if you find a spot that typically does X in revenue in their normal business and you are offering X+Y, they will likely take it, which can easily be less than comparable traditional spaces.
  • Memorable – Compare the following two pictures and decide which one looks more memorable.  Both are fantastic options, and the food would likely be comparable, but which is more memorable?
Option A
Option B

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