Inclusive Venue Design: Creating the Ultimate Visitor Experience

Guests expect a venue experience above and beyond the events they pay to see.
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A venue should serve as much more than a space for guests to see an event. Ticket holders deserve a high-quality experience at every step of service - from accessibility through signage and wayfinding, to comfort in amenities, and connectivity through innovative technology.

Bergmeyer Principal Brian Perlow explores three design approaches for venue renovations that significantly impact the guest experience for the better.

Venue Bos Pro Shop 2020 CP02 007

The Boston ProShop powered by ’47 at TD Garden strengthens the bonds between the fans and the teams that play the games they love in one destination for authentic team merchandise, customized apparel, exclusive Garden items, and autographed memorabilia.

Accessibility and Convenience

Guest engagement begins well in advance of their visit to a facility. A welcoming and informative digital presence that closely mirrors the on-site experience is critical to informing and preparing customers in advance so they arrive for their event with minimal stress. Ample parking or transit directions clearly presented through branded signage and wayfinding, as well as accessible entrances, routes, exits, and vertical transit options for every type of attendee are meaningful service points to reconsider from a guest’s point of view prior to and upon arrival.

Signage plays a crucial role as the first main touchpoint for arriving guests, and should include large print, braille, and other accessible formats of communication to ensure all visitors understand the information being conveyed. Audio and visual aids such as induction loops, assistive listening devices, and captioning are equally as essential to achieving universal design in these crowded and at times disorienting environments.

Welcome fans by mitigating friction on their journey to and within your facility and encouraging clear engagement and information sharing. Ensuring the venue is accessible and convenient for visitors is critical to offering a positive human experience.

Venue Truly34350
Venue Truly34323

At Truly LA, bright colors pop throughout the space through track lighting, bold furniture selections, and on the inclusively gender-neutral restroom stall doors. Art and Creativity thrive on Truly LA's stage featuring intimate shows in partnership with Live Nation.

Comfort and Amenities

A diverse array of amenities have elevated the expectations for venue experience design as building owners continue to leverage creative thinking as it pertains to the fan experience. Historically, we think of comfortable seating, sightlines, A/V, restroom quantity and quality, concession options, and perhaps merchandise offerings as the core tenets of the venue experience. While these are still on the critical path to venue success, diversification and originality have entered the conversation and powerfully changed how we think about each category.

Larger, premium gathering areas with unassigned seating create community-centric pockets of energy and activity for visitors to connect in arenas and ballparks. Standing room only used to be at the back of the bowl; now it’s ideal to provide these options all over the building. Diversifying food and beverage items caters to a vast array of dietary needs and restrictions while also focusing on local sourcing and the importance of supporting small businesses. A “locally sourced” philosophy further connects a venue to the community it serves.

From a retail perspective: professional, collegiate, and touring event merchandise continues to move upscale, and the sales environments for branded merchandise need to keep up. One in five event attendees purchase merchandise during a visit, and in the last reported year (2021), global sales of licensed merchandise topped $300 billion.

Building owners looking to move the needle meaningfully upward as it pertains to revenue streams have ample opportunity to do so through creative merchandising design.

Venue SHOPBOS Celtics 8
Venue SHOPBOS Bruins 2

At the two elevated SHOPBOS retail stores on the fourth floor of TD Garden, Boston sports fans can further connect with their teams while attending games and events. Our client wanted to renovate the two stores so the updated designs would seamlessly transition merchandise for either Bruins or Celtics games and family events at TD Garden with relative ease.

Technology and Connectivity

Elevated Wi-Fi speeds with a top tier option offered in premium areas are challenging services to deliver with thousands of customers on hand. To effectively create an immersive guest environment while leveraging augmented reality (AR) via mobile apps or other cutting-edge technology, venues need to support the up and down speeds required to engage and enhance the fan experience. Display and audio technologies consistently restate the definition of “best in class” – meaning digital signage, wayfinding, and in-event video must meet or exceed guests’ expectations.

Lighting plays a crucial role in creating the right ambiance and atmosphere in all guest and employee spaces. The lighting system should be designed to provide optimal illumination and control brightness levels to enhance the fan, employee, and athlete/performer experience in all corners of the venue.

Today’s fans expect to be connected to the experience at all times, making it incumbent upon owners and operators to incorporate the latest technology and connectivity options in their venue design.

The Takeaway

An inclusive design approach should be considered for venues of all sizes, from intimate event spaces to large-scale arenas. Consideration of every step in the visitor journey will resonate with all audiences, who will walk away with both the memories of their event and the positive impact of a thoughtfully executed guest experience.

For more guidance on how to get your venue to perform on its A game, contact us at and keep the conversation going.


The third floor of An Unlikely Story is a playful and tech-enriched events space designed to illustrate owner and author Jeff Kinney's beloved characters and colorful world.