So you’re going in-person for summer/fall 2021. Yes! Congrats. Now, all that’s left is to book a venue where you can have as many attendees as you want. All in one place, with health and safety features built-in. Plus you’ll need indoor or outdoor meeting options, hybrid capabilities, and an inspiring atmosphere that totally makes up for a year of lost events. Easy right? It can be! We actually found some event venues that can do all of that and more. Also, we’ll also get into how you can look for even more venues near you. Lots to cover. So let’s get to it!
Keep it old school (as long as the wifi is good).
The historic Palmer House in Chicago, which closed last year due to covid-19, re-opened on June 17th, just in time for its 150th birthday. The Palmer House’s history is long and storied. It burned down in the Great Chicago Fire, got rebuilt in 1873, became a hangout for people like Sinatra and Ella Fiztgerald in the 30’s, has Tiffany gold hinges everywhere. It’s basically a legendary spot for hospitality and luxury. Also, after major renovations in 2021, the building is now completely modern. All spaces and rooms have been updated with Hilton’s EventReady and CleanStay technology. Guests and event attendees can now expect such amenities as keyless entry, no-touch check-in, hybrid connectivity in meeting rooms, as well as tons of other features added to keep everyone safe and connected. If you’re looking for an event venue that is something special, and little old school, but with thoroughly modern hospitality, the Palmer House is the place.
This is also a good time to note that any hotel with a dedicated cleaning or safety program, such as Hilton’s services, or Stay Safe with Sonesta, is a good option for an in-person event. Organizers have a lot to think about in 2021, so to have a venue that already has a plan to keep people safe can really make things easier.
Look to Esports for inspiration.
The Call of Duty championships will be held in-person this year at the Esports Stadium in Arlington. This stadium is one of the largest and most technically advanced venues ever to host in-person or hybrid events. All together, the space is 100,000 sq ft, with a 48,000 sq ft attached exhibit hall, and boasts a 90 ft LED stage display with concert theater sound and lighting. There’s also a 2,500 seat capacity so that in-person attendees can watch everything live. Fun fact — Esports have actually been on the cutting edge of connectivity and hybrid events long before 2020. We wrote a little bit about this when covering the Long Beach Convention Center’s transition to hybrid events after hosting TwitchCon (an Esports friendly event). Long story short, for organizers that want a high tech event venue with maximum streaming capabilities, check out the Esports scene, they know what they are doing when it comes to anything with screens, trust us.
Check out the rooftops.
The Chicago Gourmet, a food festival that unites some of the best restaurants in the city, is hosting two distinct events atop the Harris Rooftop theater. One event will be a hamburger hop — focused on grilling, brews, wine and drinks. The other event will be a Grand Cru — dedicated to wine, but also fine dining, of course. The festival wasn’t quite ready to return to a full in-person event, so they opted for a smaller, outdoor approach. We think the rooftop concept is a great thing for organizers to take note of. Quite simply, you just can’t beat the views and fresh air when up on the roof. Also you get to be outside without having to clomp around on grass. Masks are not as important. It’s more fun than being inside. There’s a lot of pluses to the rooftop. They make great event venues. Just saying.
Get out of the city.
The Peach Orchard Venue, which opened in September 2020, is located in the Texas woodlands in the original barn of a peach orchard that’s been fully functional since the 1940s.
It houses 16,000 sq ft of indoor and outdoor space where organizers can host anything from a corporate retreat to a new product launch — all far away from the distractions of the city or office. “I believe the land itself feels blessed. I do not ever feel stressed when I am here. It is just a hidden gem you did not even know existed,” says Lara Haddad Guerra. We have to agree with Lara here, the Peach Orchard, and anywhere that has more trees than buildings, is a good place for people to relax. Organizers looking to replicate this kind of atmosphere should consider looking outside the city to more rural venues. Think of places where people can unplug, ditch the screens entirely, and walk around in nature without having to think about how they’ve been cooped up the past year. Attendees in 2021 will appreciate a rural getaway. We know we would.
Everyone loves a good distillery.
The Log Still’s Dant Crossing is a modern day event campus adjacent to a top notch independent distillery. Amenities at the campus include an outdoor amphitheater, a farm to table restaurant, 12 acres lake fishing, lodging options, with more features in the works. While many independent distilleries unfortunately had to shudder during the past year, the distillery industry as a whole has been booming, and setting itself up to be premiere event destinations. Not surprisingly, there are lots of built in pluses to organizing an event at a distillery. First and foremost, the drinks will be good, and you’ll never run out. But beyond that, there’s a phenomenal atmosphere at a distillery. It’s literally a living and working factory that you get to be a part of. It creates something tangible that everyone can unite around. These are all things that can help inspire and spark conversation. The drinks do help with that as well 🙂
The Monterey Conference Center teamed up with Immersive Design Studios to create one of the most technologically advanced virtual and hybrid event centers. The center’s new CANVAS studio boasts a 360 degree wrap-around screen, which allows presenters to connect with 1000s of virtual audience members alongside in-person attendees. These new renovations even caught the eye of the famed TED series, and the Monterey Convention Center will now host TED’s much anticipated The Case for Optimism event in August 2021. For organizers that want to go in-person, while still expanding their virtual audience, a specialized hybrid event studio may be just the thing you need. It also allows you to turn your event into cutting edge and engaging content, something that TED has been pioneering for many years.
When in doubt, call around, see what’s out there.
A lot has changed in the event world. Venues of all kinds have been working tirelessly to make safe, fun, and inspiring spaces for people to host events. We recommend calling around to many different types of venues. Ask about health and safety measures, outdoor spaces, food, drinks, hybrid connectivity, or maybe even if it’s a good place to unplug entirely. It’s all possible in 2021.