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Conference rooms are dead

There’s no need to mince words here: most conferences are boring. Sure, a room with a table and a few swivel chairs will suffice, but having a typical meeting room at a typical venue doesn’t exactly induce awestruck wonder in your attendees.

An unconventional venue, however, just might be what’s needed to boost memorability and morale. Plus, when guests are in amazement at their surroundings, they just might come up with better ideas and insights, thus contributing to a more productive outcome.

Yes, ballrooms and multi-purpose facilities will usually fill the bill if you just need a room for hosting a conference. You have the seating, the table and, if you’re lucky, snacks and soft drinks you’ll need for delivering your content. However, a memorable conference entails having a charismatic speaker; it also has everything to do with the venue.

Instead of a generic rental space for your next venue, why not select a facility that has that “wow” factor that can be felt the minute guests walk in? The following venues are so out of this world that your audience may actually look forward to that conference for a change.

Madison Square Garden New York

This venue is worth considering if for no other reason than its name recognition. Surely guests will be more inclined to attend your event knowing that it’s taking place in one of New York’s oldest and most iconic landmarks.

The facility has hosted countless major events and sporting activities for nearly 50 years. It’s been the location of several NBA and NHL All-Star games, not to mention the location for the World Wrestling Entertainment’s first Wrestlemania.

If you manage to secure this venue, make sure you point these facts out in your promotional material. It will without a doubt help attract a bigger crowd.

Craig Y Nos Castle Wales

Any venue that happens to be a centuries old castle is definitely going to stand out. The Craig Y Nos Castle, nestled in Wales’ Brecon Beacons National Park, was erected in 1841. It’s not exactly a medieval keep, but it still has that ancient and majestic feel of a locale that has been standing since the previous millennium.

The castle has reportedly also been the subject of numerous instances of paranormal activity, thus adding an air of mystery to the venue itself, especially for guests hoping to snap a selfie with a ghostly specter just barely visible in the background.

The Eden Project Cornwall

What’s more awesome than having a conference inside a spherical dome filled with thousands of specimens of native plant life? The presence of the plants creates a climate that simulates Mediterranean conditions and a rain forest environment, so you may want to inform guests to dress appropriately.

The domes are made almost entirely from glass, so your gathering will feel almost like it’s in an outdoor setting with all the amenities of the indoors. This is a great venue if the conference includes a planned gala and social hour.

Dalston Gem London

The Dalston Gem is actually a local fried chicken shop. So why would anyone ever want to host an event at a diner, and not even a gourmet one at that?

Well, for starters, the venue serves some of the best herbed bird in town – no rubber chicken dinners here – plus plenty of local beers, cocktails and ice cream. When your guests’ tummies are full, they are going to be content and much more inclined to be all ears for your presentation or conference.

Secondly, the venue also has that old-time local hangout feel, which makes it ideal for smaller and more intimate events, or as an after-event hub for VIP members.

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort Miami

It’s no coincidence this venue is often referred to as “Miami’s Best Address.” It’s located adjacent to the Bal Harbour Shops, a longtime tourist favorite. It’s also just minutes from South Beach, so guests will benefit from the warm coastal climate and oceanfront hot spots.

Guests will definitely have no shortage of nearby attractions to check out before and after the event, so you’ve already got plenty of promotional material built-in.

More Than The Ordinary

Conferences by nature are not exactly the most exciting events to attend. While factors like an entertaining speaker, room layout and direct audience engagement matters, it’s equally important that you have an out-of-the-box setting that contributes to the event’s success through its sheer wow factor.

And just because an event is small in number doesn’t mean its venue can’t have a big impact. Take for example these intimate settings:

Google’s Cable Car Meeting Rooms Zurich

Meeting rooms consisting of nothing more than a table and set of chairs are pretty bland, at least when compared to Google’s cable car meeting room. As the name suggests, this is a meeting room designed with a twist. Amenities include cable cars converted into miniature private rooms for a group of two to four people.

Further, there are also small pods that serve a similar function. On top of that, the facility has plenty of other fun features, including an adult-sized playground slide, pool tables, foosball and massage chairs.

King Arthur Round Swing Table London

For small conferences or meetings consisting of no more than 12 people, consider King Arthur’s Round Swing   Table in London. This venue is a small room that features a large round table with 12 seats – which is how the venue got its name.

Here’s the kicker: Those 12 seats are actually swings. Meeting planners can opt for an indoor or outdoor table, or choose tables that come with geo shading. With this venue, attendees can have fun like a child again as they attend that very important conference of yours.

Boys and Girls Lego Conference Rooms Dublin

What’s not to like about anything Lego? With this conference room, the table surface is made entirely from Lego blocks.

As you begin your conference, your guests can’t help but constantly stare at the table and just wonder how many pieces went into erecting it. The table is encased in glass, so no worries about it crumbling around your feet.

Saatchi & Saatchi Headquarters Beijing

Saatchi & Saatchi Headquarters in the Chinese capital is truly an architectural feat of magic. The room utilizes lots of round and spherical elements in its design.

One of its more striking features is a meeting room encased in a half-dome of glass that rotates. Once inside, this venue will make you feel that you have just been transported 50 years in the future.

Poseidon’s Resort Maldives

A conference meeting literally hosted under the sea. Does that sound like science fiction? It’s very real, in fact. Poseidon’s Resort offers suites and meeting rooms that are literally submerged below the surface of the water.

Guests are practically surrounded by an aquarium full of exotic underwater wildlife. Any meeting in such an awe-inspiring venue is bound to be positively received.

Dan McCarthy is event manager at Venueseeker, a comprehensive online venue guide based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Visit or follow Dan on Twitter @DanCarthy2.

By Dan McCarthy