Photo by Antenna / Unsplash

2:2 Unconventional venues: Making your event stand out

Lee Matthew Jackson
Lee Matthew Jackson

Ready to create an unforgettable experience for your attendees? Say goodbye to the mundane and hello to the extraordinary as we explore the world of unconventional event venues in this episode of the Event Martech Podcast.

Lee gets personal as he shares his experience organizing an international conference at a local community church. He goes beyond his story and provides insights into the benefits and challenges of hosting events in non-traditional spaces.

But that's not all! Lee also dishes out practical tips to help you plan and execute successful events in new locations, and shares unique venue ideas to spark your creativity. Whether you're thinking of hosting your event in a museum, art gallery, industrial space, or historic building, Lee's got you covered.

By the end of this episode, you'll have all the tools you need to think outside the box and create an unforgettable experience for your attendees.

Takeaway's from Lee's experiences include:

  • Unconventional venues can make your event stand out and leave a lasting impression on attendees
  • Non-traditional venues foster creativity and can improve the perception of your brand
  • Customizing the space to your specific needs can create a more intimate and memorable environment
  • Lack of onsite event staff, catering services, and equipment are common challenges of unconventional venues
  • Doing your research, planning for logistics, working with experienced vendors, and being flexible are important when hosting events in unconventional venues
  • Museums and art galleries, rooftops and terraces, industrial spaces, parks and outdoor spaces, and historic buildings and landmarks are great options for unconventional venues

Lee explores the following advantages:

  • Standing out from the competition
  • Fostering creativity and innovation
  • Improving brand perception
  • Creating a unique and memorable experience for attendees

And share's the things he struggled with:

  • Lack of onsite staff and equipment
  • Potential need to customize the space to fit your needs
  • Challenges with catering and other logistical needs

He explores locations such as:

  • Museums and art galleries for an elegant and cultural setting
  • Rooftops and terraces for a stunning cityscape view
  • Industrial spaces for a trendy and modern vibe
  • Parks and outdoor spaces for a natural and refreshing atmosphere
  • Historic buildings and landmarks for a touch of nostalgia and grandeur

And share some lessons he learned along the way:

  • Research your venue
  • Plan logistics
  • Work with experienced vendors
  • Customize the space
  • Be flexible

You'll gain valuable insights that will help you create an unforgettable event that leaves a lasting impression on your attendees.


Welcome to the Event Martech Podcast, this is your host Lee.

When planning an event, whether it's a conference, workshop, or networking event, one of the most important decisions you'll make is the venue. And while traditional conference centers and hotels are often the go-to choice, they're not your only option. Today, we'll explore some unconventional venues that can make your event stand out and leave a lasting impression on attendees.

From museums to rooftops and everything in between, we'll discuss the pros and cons of non-traditional venues and provide some tips and ideas for making your event truly memorable. So, whether you're planning a business conference or a networking event, we hope to inspire you to think outside the box and consider some more unconventional venues for your next event.

My story

First, story time!

Back in 2018 I was planning my very first conference. Agency Transformation Live would be an event for web agency owners, helping them figure out where they were on their journey and what their next steps were to achieve that next stage of transformation in their businesses.

I was organizing this of the back of my podcast, therefore budgets were not huge and I only had a small team. Let’s face it, I didn’t have that much cash either to put on an event.

There were not many local conference centers, and those that were available were excruciatingly expensive. This led me to exploring alternative venues locally.

At the time I was attending a local church which had a rather large meeting space, along with a great sound and lighting system. With a little bit of support, I was sure I’d be able to run my conference there if the church was willing to host us, and of course it was going to be far more affordable.

Within a few days, and after a few energetic conversations with the church leader, my event had it’s first home! Agency Transformation Live 2019 was at my home church of Everyday Champions in Wellingborough.

The moment I started promoting the event, I began to feel a lot of self doubt. Similar events were being held in huge, purpose build conference centers and hotels, whilst I was bootstrapping mine at the local church…

It turns out however my fears were unfounded.

I thought people would be unimpressed with the room. Instead they loved the uniqueness of the place.

I worried the lack of nearby hotels and bars would be a problem. Folks instead enjoyed finding boutique hotels, and exploring the local town for places to eat.

Maybe people wouldn’t travel to the event because it wasn’t in a main location such as London or Birmingham, thus close to an airport. I was amazed when people traveled from as far as America and Australia just to be in the room, and didn’t mind an extra hour on the train from the airport.

We ended up having an incredible event, so many people’s lives were changed. New businesses were formed, partnerships developed and lifelong friendships made.


Don’t you love it when a story has a happy ending? With that, let’s take a look at some of the unexpected advantages I experienced using such a unique space.

Stand Out

First and foremost, hosting my event in an unconventional venue helped it to stand out from the crowd. Instead of being just another conference in a generic conference center or hotel, my event was in a unique space that caught people's attention. It was personal to me, it was my church, and followers of my brand were interested in seeing it. Attendees loved the fact that it was different and it made the event more memorable.

Fosters Creativity

Another advantage was that it fostered creativity. Because we were in a space that wasn't typically used for business events, it encouraged attendees to think outside the box and be more creative in their approach. This led to more interesting and engaging discussions and helped to make the event more dynamic.

Brand Perception

Surprisingly, It also helped to improve the perception of my brand. By using the church, I was able to differentiate myself from other events in the industry and make a statement about my brand. It was personal to me as a podcaster and industry influencer. It became a unique marketing message that helped to attract attendees and build buzz around the conference.

Personalised Experience

Finally, one of the biggest advantages to me as an event organiser, and cause of much hard work, is that it was much more customizable and personalized than a traditional venue. We were able to make the space our own and tailor it to our specific needs and goals. This helped to create a more intimate and personal environment for attendees, which made the event more memorable.


There were of course several drawbacks that I experienced and that you should consider when looking at alternative venues:

Lack Of Event Staff

First, there was a lack of staff onsite with event experience. We had to bring in our own team to help with everything from setting up the space to managing attendees. This required extra planning and coordination, but ultimately it was worth it to create an awesome experience for attendees.

No Catering

Another issue we had to deal with was that we didn't have any catering services available onsite. We had to bring in outside vendors to take care of food and drinks, and that was not without its difficulties. We had to make sure everything was properly arranged and scheduled, from when the food would arrive to how it would be set up for people to enjoy. We did manage to pull it off, with the odd glitch here or there, but I would sure would have appreciated it being included and organized by an venue manager.

Lack Of Equipment

Because the church didn't have its own tables, and other equipment, we had to hire a lot in ourselves, which made things a bit more complicated. This included hiring vans to collect things, or ensuring deliveries were sent to the right place at the right time. At the time I did wish it could have all been managed by the venue, but on the plus side we created an awesome atmosphere and I was super happy with the results.

Multiple Hats

To be honest, the biggest hurdle for me was having to juggle multiple roles at once. As the event manager, site manager, and host, I had a ton of responsibilities on my shoulders, and it definitely got overwhelming at times. But, you know what they say, teamwork makes the dream work! With the help of my amazing team and some careful planning, we were able to put on an awesome event that exceeded all of our expectations.

Despite the challenges we faced, I truly believe that hosting an event in a unique and non-traditional space can really set your event apart and make it unforgettable for your guests.

You’ll imagine, I learned a lot from this experience, so, let's get into some tips and tricks that I picked up along the way for hosting an event in a space that's a bit out of the ordinary. These are things that can really make a difference and help you pull off a successful and unforgettable event.


Do Your Research

First off, do your homework! You'll need to get a good understanding of the space you're considering and figure out what it will take to get it ready for your event. This includes things like size, available amenities, and what kind of work you'll need to put in to get it set up for your guests.

Plan for Logistics

Next up, logistics are key. You'll need to have a solid plan in place for everything from parking and transportation to food and equipment rentals. This will help make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day.

Work with Experienced Vendors

It's also important to work with experienced vendors who know what they're doing. This could include event planners, caterers, and AV techs who have experience with similar events. They'll be able to help you tackle any unexpected challenges that come up and keep everything running smoothly.

Be Flexible

Finally, keep an open mind and be willing to go with the flow. No matter how much you plan, things may not always go according to plan, so it's important to be flexible and ready to adapt. With the right mindset and some solid planning, you can put on an incredible event that your guests will never forget!


So, if you're looking to shake things up for your next event, you might be wondering where to start. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Museums and Art Galleries

First up, museums and art galleries can be an amazing spot to host your event. They offer a visually stunning backdrop that will make your event really pop. Whether you're putting on a conference, a networking event, or a product launch, these spaces can provide an inspiring and unforgettable experience.

Rooftops and Terraces

If you're looking to take advantage of the great outdoors, rooftops and terraces are a fantastic option. They offer a unique and intimate environment that's perfect for all sorts of events. With a bit of creativity and the right setup, you can turn a rooftop or terrace into a breathtaking event space.

Industrial Spaces

For those who want something a bit more edgy and industrial, consider hosting your event in a warehouse or other industrial space. With their high ceilings and exposed brick walls, these spaces offer a unique and striking environment that's sure to make an impression.

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

If you need a bit more room to move around, why not consider hosting your event in a park or other outdoor space? With some clever planning, you can create an immersive event experience that really takes advantage of the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

Historic Buildings and Landmarks

And finally, for a touch of local history and charm, consider hosting your event in a historic building or landmark. These spaces offer a one-of-a-kind setting with rich stories that will create a memorable experience for everyone.


As we draw to a close, let me recap so far. Hosting your event in an unique venue can really make it stand out and leave a lasting impression on your guests. We explored some of the advantages and disadvantages of non-traditional space, and provided some helpful tips for making your event a success, such as doing your research, planning for logistics, working with experienced vendors, and being flexible.

And if you're still not sure where to start, we shared some ideas to get your creative juices flowing, from museums and art galleries to rooftops and terraces, industrial spaces, parks and outdoor spaces, and historic buildings and landmarks.

Remember, with the right planning, preparation, and mindset, you can create an amazing event experience that your attendees will never forget no matter the location!

For more content like this, be sure to subscribe to our podcast.

A formatted transcript of this episode is available in the show notes. Whilst you are there, share your thoughts in the comments section. Let us know, what awesome spaces have you used for your events?

Folks, if we don’t see you in the comments, let’s see you in the next episode.

Season 2

Lee Matthew Jackson

Content creator, speaker & event organiser. #MyLifesAMusical #EventProfs