Tracy Rusbridge, regional business development executive at The Jockey Club, on looking beyond conventional event spaces. 

The demand for non-conventional, bigger and better event spaces just keeps growing. Purpose-built venues have traditionally been an attractive option for businesses to entice increasing numbers of exhibitors and visitors. The benefits are simple; the buildings were designed to host events, and so all the facilities required for a successful show will be included.

But the sector is seeing a move towards more unique venues, in a bid for shows to stand out in a crowded market.

With competition rife, conferences and exhibition organisers need to work harder than ever before to not only impress attendees but also convince repeat business and further investment. This pressure to outperform is what has ushered event organisers to consider multipurpose, flexible venues.

Whether based in a football stadium or racecourse, by supplying an idyllic backdrop to an event, imagery and film will naturally attract shares on social media, helping to extend the reach of the show further than those that attended. This kind of engagement provides organic marketing as visitors spread-the-word, providing authentic endorsements for the event space and encouraging more people to sign up for next year.

Indeed, in September 2017 Sandown Park Racecourse hosted the launch of Festival and Outdoor Events Show (Festout). The choice of venue, which is first and foremost a racecourse, provided flexible exhibition space, both indoors and out.

Another example of utilising a space designed for an alternative purpose is Sandown Park’s Business Adventures, which packages activities such as ‘Sky walking’, dry ski sloping, golf, footgolf and go-karting together to capitalise on corporate team building opportunities.

As the events industry becomes more crowded these alternative event spaces allow organisers to instantly stand out and provide visitors with a unique experience.

And by impressing both potential exhibitors and visitors from the get-go with the choice of venue, event organisers are giving themselves a head start against the competition.