Engineering the perfect event space blog

Sean Spencer, head of venues and facilities at IET Venues looks at the best ways to engineer the perfect events space…

Events can sometimes be defined by the phrase “once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all”, which is a problem when you’re a venue or event organiser trying to get people through your doors and bums on seats at a conference.

Now clients are thinking even further outside the metaphorical box to ensure guests enjoy a purposeful experience. Experience is the buzz word of the moment in the events industry – content is still king, however there is an industry wide understanding that event attendees need to have experienced something meaningful – that they leave having taken something beneficial away. That could be taking home a reel of images from an immersive re-enactment they were surprised with taking part in, or the memory of being in fits of giggles during a comedic MC hosting an event, or feeling inspired having listened to an interesting key note speaker.

All venues have their USPs and whether, like the IET London: Savoy Place, it’s having first class digital and technical capabilities, venues need to utlilise their spaces and the design facets to create a purposeful event. A blank space can be transformed into whatever the mind desires, a purpose-built space, or even an outdoor makeshift pop-up, with full theming, will draw crowds for different reasons.

Behind every good venue is an engineer, someone, who designed and constructed it. They will have run the rule over every detail to ensure the build of the space is fit for purpose, and with more venues exploring their capacity to add commercial or corporate events to their revenue, they’re also expanding ways they can use redundant or under-utilised spaces.

Events can be formed and built almost anywhere, it could be in a car park or a disused warehouse, the urban rustic feel of these spaces creates a look that gives an event that slightly rough round the edges feel, and often they will be cheaper for venue hire. There will be a limited infrastructure for AV, tech and lighting, but with less budget spent on hire then you can be more creative with the layout and run through of your event.

Which is why experiences and live interactive elements are becoming more prevalent. When a venue has so many spaces to use there is the opportunity to take advantage and create individual concepts and themes in each space.

If a space is a premium then live streaming, AI or virtual delegate attendance will save you space and enhance your content.

Location can also be a deal breaker, but give the people what they want, and the people will come, that is true of any event where renowned speakers, creative catering, entertaining theming, guest interaction and external activities and travel will take your event to the next level and make it a must-attend.  

Turning a venue into a living, breathing set will make your event memorable. Take for instance an event like ‘Midnight Madness’, a phenomenon from the States that made its way over to London this summer, the event transformed venues across London, including IET London: Savoy Place, into an immersive puzzle race as part of a city-wide mystery challenge.

CSR is a huge rewarding factor for delegates too and they will take your event into consideration more if there is a charitable, good will, or sustainable initiative included as part of their attendance.

Large scale, immersive events used to be considered impossible to achieve unless you had a venue the size of a small arena to fit it in. It is now more accessible, with the help of new tech, for smaller venues to compete with digital investments and VR creating immersive set-ups and interaction, with the guest engagement at the heart of things.