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Brian Ferdinand is a New York based financial consultant and entrepreneur. He has over 15 years of experience in advanced trading methodologies and technologies, creating strategic growth and managing large scale portfolios.

Out-of-the-Box Rental Ideas for Special Events

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Whether you’re organizing a conference, getting married or planning a business trip, there are a series of complex steps that go into preparation. When it comes to venues and accommodations, however, it appears that times are changing. Space-sharing startups like Airbnb are facilitating peer-to-peer rental services that are proving to be ideal for so much more than your average trip to the beach.

Whatever your special event is about, the options are opening up when it comes to booking venues, housing guests and more. If you’re willing to eschew the norm, you can say goodbye to hotels and reticent event coordinators. These days anyone with the right tools can find gorgeous, affordable and comfortable event spaces all with the click of an app, along with special services to enhance the experience.

Finding a venue

Booking a venue for special events can be a painful experience. Comparing costs and contracts often feels like a waste of time, effort and travel — not to mention the exorbitant cost of rentals and awkward nature of cold calls. But for some planners, a large, unused home will do just as well or better than a local conference center or ballroom.

Services like Airbnb and Homeaway rent out entire mansions and homes all over the world. Some of these spots are perfect for destination weddings or retreats for their authentic location, distinct architecture and luxurious amenities.

But if you’re looking for a venue-specific service, the LA-based Eventup may be just the thing. Touted as the Airbnb of event rental, its listings facilitate all sorts of events. Individuals are able to list their properties for venue rental too.

For brides and grooms to be there’s actually an app just for wedding venue rental. Called The Hitch, it presents information on a variety of venues, from costs to capacity, along with pictures and other details on a visually appealing, easy-to-use app.

Housing your guests

For those that need accommodations beyond their chosen venue, the first instinct may be to reserve a hotel block. This is a safe bet, but not the only one by a longshot. Some of your guests might prefer something off the beaten path, especially if the price is better.

With Airbnb and similar short-term vacation startups, event planners can put up guests together in one or several homes. There are a lot of perks to this beyond price — the space will be authentic to whatever your location is, and allow for common space for collaboration and mingling.

If your event is a business one, Airbnb actually works with many companies to provide seamless corporate travel experiences, which I’ve written about previously on my blog.

Event enhancements

There’s more to any given event than just the space. Amazing or affordable as your venue and accommodations may be, there’s an endless list of additional concerns like food, clothes, entertainment — you name it.

Anyone who has planned a traditional sit-down dinner knows that, oftentimes, catering makes up the bulk of an event’s cost. Traditional event venues may even be bundled with exclusive caterers, leaving renters with few affordable options. The share economy allows for a different route: Kitchensurfing, for example, lets you find and rent a personal chef, who will cater a meal starting at $50 a head. Similar service Kitchit lets you rent a professional chef for dinner parties.

There are also a number of services that let people rent all sorts of clothes, from business casual to black tie. Rent the Runway is one notable and successful example through which women can rent and wear high-end designer clothing for a fraction of its price.

Just about any other service you can think of on the periphery of special events represents a potential market for startup participation and investor involvement. Given a bit more time, success and enthusiasm, event planning may soon be just as digitalized and dynamic as vacation rental is today.

Photo: Matus Kalisky via Flickr