Venues & Hotels

Best Chicago Venues for Conferences, Corporate Retreats, and Team Building

Are you looking for the best Chicago corporate event venues? The Windy City is a venue haven, offering many exceptional sites where businesses can host offsite meetings, conferences, corporate retreats, and team-building activities.

When deciding on an outside location for corporate events, it is important to find a site fully-equipped with printers, whiteboards, teleconferencing capability, projectors, and anything else you might require. Some full-service Chicago corporate event venues even offer add-on options to help you seamlessly work, play, and unwind all in one spot.

Choosing the perfect venue for your corporate event isn’t always an easy task.  To help you with this task, we’ve rounded up the best Chicago corporate event venues offering unmatched amenities, ranging from unique meeting halls and great views to superb reception spaces perfect for networking, unwinding, and socializing.

Most of these venues come with a unique personality, style, and history that will make your corporate events truly memorable and worthwhile.

Why would my company need an event venue?

Companies rent event venues for a host of reasons. Mostly, it’s an office away from the office offering everything you need when meeting clients, hashing out company agendas, and perhaps getting some other work done.

Corporate event venues are great for retreats, so your staff can focus on their wellness. Being in a different locale gives your employees the chance to unwind, play, and work, all in the same location, which isn’t usually possible at the office.

For a wellness retreat, select a resort-style venue that offers relaxing options like yoga, massages, or multiple rounds of golf – anything every staff member can appreciate. Make sure to include plenty of time to get work done as well as meet, so your staff can be pampered, recharged, and ready to roll.

Appreciate your team the right way. Your team works hard for your company all year long. Hiring an entertaining and legit fun venue for your holiday party, corporate retreats, or team-building activities is a lovely way to show your gratitude, make them feel valued, and keep them humming.

Companies often rent Chicago corporate event venues to host their training days, trade expos, galas, conferences, end-of-year parties, and other important networking events.  Does you company have dedicated spaces for these events? If you’re like most companies, the answer is no.  This is where specialized event venues come in handy.

Other reasons it makes sense for your company to rent an event venue include:

  • Event venues offer more flexibility – You can host more guests, accommodate last-minute requests, and get additional equipment on short notice.
  • Visually pleasing – Many unique corporate event venues are in Chicago. They offer stunning architecture and outstanding interior elements, all of which go a long way to make your event visually appealing.
  • A welcome change of pace – It allows you to go off the beaten path and switch your event up. This will create a delightful change of pace and even improve attendance.
  • Makes your events more memorable – Creating memorable business meetings, conferences, and team-building activities is a cinch with the fascinating venues in the Windy City.

What kinds of places can be rented for corporate events?

When ‘corporate events’ are mentioned, people often picture a huge theater, conference hall, or grand banquet room that can seat hundreds, if not thousands, of guests. But an ideal corporate event venue can be any spot, including the following:

Restaurants – Restaurants make for some of the best Chicago corporate events. You can book an entire restaurant or, if your event is small, you can opt for a private dining room. Restaurants are great for Christmas parties, birthdays, or business meetings.

Clubs, pubs, and bars – If you’re organizing an informal corporate party, clubs, pubs and bars are quite suitable spots. For an all-around event, we suggest hiring a country club on a weekday.

Convention centers – Chicago has no shortage of fully-staffed and equipped convention centers. They offer an overlap between a conference hall and a business center, making them ideal for giant networking events.

Hotels – Many Chicago hotels come with banquet halls, bars, restaurants, conference rooms, dining rooms, and other event spaces, making them perfect for a variety of corporate events. Resort hotels are an ideal choice for team building, retreats, and informal networking events.

Hotels are also best suited for conferences, business meetings, dinner parties, presentations, and other formal large corporate events.

Art galleries – That’s right: art galleries offer plenty of empty space, leaving room to host many kinds of corporate events.  You can always get a good rate, as an added plus. They are better-suited for networking events, artist meet-ups, and workshops.

Museums, movie theaters, wineries, and sports clubs can also be excellent event venues. All up, we give you multiple options for your company’s corporate event Chicago venues based on size and event type.

What should I consider for a corporate event venue?

Choosing the right venue for your corporate event is not a quick selection process. Dealing with many attendees is tricky. To make the right choice, here are the top things to consider.

Catering options: Food and drinks are some of the most crucial elements at any corporate event. You must ensure that the venue has the right choice, quality, and accommodation for the distinct dietary needs for all attendees. Poor catering will color the entire event in a negative way.

Some of the Chicago corporate event venues featured on this list come with catering, so you won’t have to break for dinner or lunch in between team building or business meetings. They will be able to serve your attendees a variety of food and drinks. If you’re planning a celebratory corporate event (here think a birthday, holiday party, etc.), the catering team should provide that wow! factor.

Size of your event: You don’t want to rent a venue that’s too small or too big for your attendance list. If it’s too large, you’ll not only waste money on unused space but your event will seem under-attended. On the other hand, a too-small site will make your event feel stuffy and uncomfortable for the guests.

In an ideal situation, you should match the capacity of the venue with the size of your attendance list. To accommodate last-minute changes, be sure to leave some wiggle room.

Versatile rooms: Go for a venue whose layout and amenities lend themselves to your event’s needs. If you’re organizing a multi-activity event, you will need several separate spaces to accommodate the different activities and create a more intimate atmosphere for all attendees.

What are your space needs? Do you need multiple small rooms – conference halls, banquet halls, meeting rooms, and so forth? Would one, large hall do the trick? Or, do you need all of the above? Recognizing the importance of versatile rooms for any corporate event is an important part of setting the tone for a successful event.

Affordability: Naturally, you have to pick a venue that fits your event budget. If that proves impossible, you can still find ways to make the venue work for your event. If you are hosting a conference, for instance, consider charging an attendance fee to defray the costs of the venue. Don’t forget to set aside some money for venue decoration, catering, and other extras.

It might be possible to negotiate the price with the venue operator if you’re flexible on the date of your event. If the operator has a few open dates that need to be filled, you might get a discount.  By giving two to three event date options, you’re more likely to snag a deeply-discounted rate.

The setting: The perfect setting for a corporate event should be both inspiring and practical. It doesn’t hurt if the venue offers great views of the city’s skyline, parks, waterfront, and other goodies for which Chicago is well-known.

Accessibility for your employees: This is one point on which you should not compromise when picking your event venue. Make sure every employee can access the venue and its amenities.

The venue’s ambiance: If you’re not keen on re-decorating the space, you must ensure that the existing décor matches the tone, theme, and message you want to convey to your attendees.

A venue that is perfect for a gala may be totally off decoration-wise when it comes to a serious trade expo or conference. You want to choose a place that will set the perfect ambiance for your event, be that high tech, inspiring, black-tie, laid back, or upscale.

Location: This is a factor that you should think about right at outset of planning. If most guests are arriving from out of town, the site should be close to hotels where they will be staying or the airport. Don’t forget to factor in parking options, transportation, and traffic.

Venue amenities, facilities, and services: These are key decision areas that should occupy your attention. Making sure a venue has a team that provides high-quality service with a smile will go a very long way to keeping your attendees happy and humming. Do you need to hire your own entertainment?

Aside from the right staff, make sure the venue has plenty of amenities as well as essential facilities like restrooms, seating, lounges, and access points to avoid overcrowding. This is especially important for large corporate events such as expos, conferences, and networking events. For an event that will continue over more than one day, opt for a venue with accommodations in-house or close-by. This will help earn you brownie points with attendees by removing the stress and pressure of having to make long trips to other hotels.

Will corporate event venues have furniture like chairs and tables?

Obviously, you want to know if the venue has linens, chairs, tables, and other items needed to make your event successful. If these events come with the venue, that’s even better because you can save your company a bundle of money and effort by using what they have in-house, assuming they go well with your event’s ambiance and theme.

You must inquire about furniture, decorations, and linens when renting the venue. Happily, most Chicago corporate event venues include these items in their rental packages. So, for stuff like tables, chairs, linens, and so on, you should be alright.

The same can be asked of setting up and cleaning the venue. Who is responsible for the setup and clean-up? Are they part of the rental package? Ideally, a good corporate events venue should provide a setup and clean-up crew, but this is not always the case. If you need to hire staff and rent equipment yourself, you’ll have to factor this into your event budget.

Will corporate event venues have the AV equipment I need?

As with furniture and linens, most Chicago corporate event venues have in-house audiovisual (AV) equipment for whatever your company needs to do. Some even offer built-in video conferencing equipment.

Unfortunately, other venues will require you to bring in AV equipment yourself. This can be a major inconvenience and could incur added costs that you can avoid by choosing a venue with a full-service package, including audiovisual equipment.

The same applies to other event technologies and equipment. If you want to create an event with a traditional or quaint ambiance, great technology is crucial. Your attendees will rely on fast-speed internet, while your team will require microphones, big screens, projectors, and conferencing tech.

If you’re planning a celebratory corporate event, your team will likely need an assortment of lighting options, video, and music systems. An excellent set of technology solutions won’t intrude on your event but will still offer great value for attendees.

What if I want to bring food to my rented corporate event venue?

You will have to inquire when renting the corporate event venue whether bringing outside food is acceptable.  Rules about these things depend primarily on the location. Some locations have preferred vendors; others let you bring in food/drinks or hire your chosen catering company. Luckily, some venues have an in-house catering team, so you won’t have to lift a finger.

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