Blog: Find the venue, the experience will come

With increasing numbers of nightclubs, and many venues laying vacant across the country, Shout About London's Ben Gamble says they can be the perfect blank canvas for an event space.

For those in search of a true experiential event it starts with the venue search, says Gamble
For those in search of a true experiential event it starts with the venue search, says Gamble

Ask pretty much anyone within the industry what experiential means and you’ll be greeted with a myriad of obtuse interpretations. Yet, it is the buzz word of the moment that just isn’t relenting. Having vastly evolved from its sample handout days with promotional teams on every street corner, experiential has proven it has a lot more to offer, firmly establishing its place as a key consideration within global brands’ wider marketing strategies.

With the increasing trend for lengthy immersive events and pop-ups showing no signs of abating, the search for the ever important ‘unique and versatile’ premises is becoming more and more challenging, or is it?

According to news reported last week (10-14 August), confirming that nearly half of the UKs nightclubs have closed in the last decade, it appears venues are plentiful, not just in London, but all around the UK, making them ripe for the taking. We have found that more and more of the capital's closed or unused (and unlikely) venues are stealing the limelight from regular hosts.

Events used to be for 100 people in a room, now they are for as many people that can and will engage with the event more widely on social media. This is simply because by focusing on experiential there is a much higher chance of a marketer’s dream ‘going viral’ with consumer interaction as part of a loud and engaging campaign.

This is more likely to happen if the setting is unusual, unknown and almost secretive, like they shouldn’t be there. There is more opportunity to capture that exclusive feeling in an old church or tunnel as opposed to a working hotel or livery hall. These types of venues also provide the perfect set-up for brands and corporates looking for something different.

Room to be creative

Available as ‘blank canvases’ with no, or very limited restrictions for transforming an area, these venues are like a dream for event visionaries who don’t have to ask ‘can we move this and can we remove that etc.’ Additional appeal from an unused venue is the flexibility on time and a greater opportunity to negotiate on costs, making derelict and out-of-use buildings a big draw to both large and start-up companies. And for the venue owner it's a no brainer, especially if the premises have been branded somewhat redundant.

So for those in search of a true experiential event it starts with the venue search. Because if you get that wrong and you end up being in the wrong place for the wrong reason (i.e. you knew someone, who knew someone who got you a free upgrade from pastries to bacon rolls and that was the deciding factor), experiential will always be an afterthought hashtag rather than a spine tingling, memorable experience.

Ben Gamble is co-founder and partner at Shout About London.

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