April 12, 2023
By Kim Campbell

Booking the right venue is an integral part of hosting a successful event. From planning the layout to providing services during the event, venues play a vital role in corporate functions, business meetings, weddings, and other special events. The style, size, and design of the location you choose can say a lot about the type of affair you’re hosting, and special event venues have the skills to take your proceedings to the next level.

This guide covers the ins and outs of special event venues. We look at how they stand out from traditional venues, review their services, and examine their impact on the hospitality industry. Keep reading to uncover how the rebounding events market is impacting businesses, which venue management tools can help professionals better plan special events, and more.

Discover what makes special event venues so special

What are special event venues?

Special event venues are businesses focused on hosting a variety of specialized events. From corporate meetings to weddings to private gatherings, these venues can cater to a wide range of event types, including:

• Concerts
• Conventions
• Rallies
• Retreats
• Fundraisers
• Festivals
• Sporting events
• Weddings
• Banquets
• Award ceremonies
• Reunions
• Exhibitions
• Pageants

Special event venues range in size, shape, and service level. While some specialize in hosting multi-day corporate retreats, others strive to create personalized, one-of-a-kind private event experiences for birthdays, baby showers, or other celebrations. A special event venue may focus on hosting a single event type, like weddings, or offer assorted services for various events.

Are there different types of special event venues?

Any venue that hosts special events can technically be called a special event venue, with varying service levels and offerings provided by each. While some locations specialize in dining events, like banquets and parties, some only host weddings, and others are designed to host massive multi-day events, such as corporate retreats or large family reunions. In your area, special event venues may include various business types, such as:

• Hotels
• Conference centers
• Convention centers
• Resorts
• Restaurants
• Breweries
• Wineries
• Bars and nightclubs
• Concert halls
• Public parks and gardens
• Civic centers
• Wedding venues

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How are special event venues different from traditional event venues?

The type of venue you choose will lend to the perception of the kind of event you’re hosting and the message you’re sending to attendees. Event venues can range from high-end and luxurious to rudimentary meeting spaces that offer essential, affordable events for planners on a budget. With a wide range of options available, there is a venue type to fit every occasion.

But what sets a special event venue apart from traditional event venues? What makes special event venues so special? The answer lies in their dedication to specialized services.

Dedicated spaces vs. non-dedicated spaces

As meetings and events have become more commonplace in everyday life, more locations have begun hosting them. Hotels, museums, libraries, and breweries have become popular venues for hosting a wide range of gatherings. While these spaces are not dedicated to hosting events exclusively, many of these locations tend to have minor event spaces and standard capabilities, like access to a boardroom or AV equipment. Community centers and recreation facilities are go-to event venues for many budget-conscious planners as well.

Although non-dedicated event venues can offer unique experiences, they may need more equipment or staff to host high-quality, service-heavy events than they have, as their primary objectives lay elsewhere. Booking a non-dedicated venue for a special event typically requires outsourcing various vendor services, such as catering, bartending, or parking. Adversely, special event venues are dedicated to hosting and executing one-of-a-kind, personalized events. Many offer full-service packages that include catering, bar service, and on-site event staffing, making it easy for travel and event planners to get everything they need in one place.

All-purpose event venues vs. special event venues

As the need for event and meeting space increased, numerous major hotel chains began to expand into the events industry and venue market. In the 1980s, many hotels began to offer all-in-one event solutions to maximize profitability. Instead of providing their spaces exclusively to travelers, hotels began to capitalize on revenue from meetings, conferences, weddings, and other events. Hotels, business centers, conference centers, and other all-in-one venues offer affordable, flexible, all-purpose event space.

All-purpose event spaces tend to accommodate business meetings, conferences, negotiations, depositions, and other events very well. They operate on a high turnover model, maximizing event profitability while minimizing venue costs by making it easy to switch back and forth between various event layouts and book multiple events back-to-back. All-in-one event spaces often have audio-visual equipment like televisions, projectors, and other meeting room technology built right in, with many all-purpose venues offering basic snack and coffee packages as well.

Although these event spaces make it easy for planners to book quickly, their one-size-fits-all approach to event management can limit their ability to customize and personalize each event experience. All-purpose event spaces offer competitive pricing and quick booking experiences, but it can be hard to see past the venue for what it actually is, like a hotel or a convention center. Booking a special event venue can lend to an event’s credibility, adding to its appeal and making it feel more exclusive.

Are special event venues becoming more or less important?

From corporate events to private celebrations, events are on the rise. Forbes reported a 255% increase in in-person and hybrid events between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2022. The massive spike in corporate events is mirrored in the special events sector, as the party and event planning industry is growing again, bucking a five-year downward trend.

Between 2016 and 2021, annualized market growth in the event planning industry experienced an average decline of 9% a year, but the industry began to show signs of bouncing back, growing 4% by the start of 2022. While a slight decline of 0.15% is anticipated for the year overall, the industry is rebounding from the pandemic and showing signs of expansion for the first time in years, with a market size of $4.1 billion. Market experts expect the trend to continue, leading to year-over-year growth and expanded market value. The global events industry is expected to see a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2%, reaching a massive value of $1,552.9 billion by 2028.   
 
With this growth, the need for special event services is growing. From vendors, planners, and venues, more businesses in the special event sector can expect to see an increase in demand. Multi-purpose spaces will be popular amongst corporate gatherings, small meetings, and networking groups, causing many wedding, party, and special event planners to turn to dedicated venues that offer specialized services.

Check out the top 2023 trends for special event venues like you

How do special events contribute to the hospitality industry?

Meetings, conferences, exhibitions, and special events are major tourism drivers. From concerts and festivals to product launches, special events drive revenue to surrounding businesses both through direct and indirect spending. Eventgoers spend money at nearby restaurants, visit attractions, and may require overnight accommodations while in town. Special events are also robust demand generators for hoteliers and hospitality-focused businesses. They have the power to increase overall demand for the region and contribute to a hotel’s room night production, rate, and bottom line.

Does Cvent offer tools for special event venues?

For comprehensive special events management, look no further than Cvent’s supplier and venue solutions. Flexible and efficient, Cvent’s event management software can boost online visibility, efficiency, and help in managing the events on property for venues, as well as event registration, attendance, and attendee engagement for event planners. With built-in templates, tools, and resources, venues and planners utilize Cvent's ecosystem to manage a wide variety of special events, including non-profit fundraisers, parties, educational events, government meetings, corporate functions, and more.

• Advertise your venue on the Cvent Supplier Network. Market your location to travel planners, group organizers, and event professionals who rely on Cvent’s Supplier Network to provide them with a curated list of reliable, professional special event venues.

• Event diagramming software makes drafting, tweaking, and executing event plans a breeze. Real-time collaborative tools allow venues, planners, organizers, staff, and other event stakeholders to discuss changing needs and enact minute-to-minute updates.

• Capture the attention of planners actively sourcing in your area by showcasing your venue in 3D. Harness the power of virtual site tours by enabling travel and event planners to visualize every aspect of their event in your space, down to the finest detail.

• Connect with the thousands of wedding planners and engaged couples who turn to Cvent’s Wedding Spot each year looking for the perfect location for their big day. Because Wedding Spot is a venue-only directory, hoteliers and venue managers who advertise on it can rest assured that their marketing dollars are going to good use, reaching prospective clients who are actively looking to book.

If you’re looking for inspiration to spruce up your event space, check out our list of the top fifty US meeting destinations. This list has everything from luxury event spaces to flexible business venues with overnight accommodations, and the 2023 edition is coming soon!

Now you know what sets special event venues apart from the rest

Next, we explore various advertising strategies that all types of venues can use to attract new customers and drive more business. Learn how to define your competition, identify your venue’s target audience, improve your online reputation, and more. Keep reading to uncover ten venue marketing ideas that work.

Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list.

Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.

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