Small, locally owned event and meeting venues compete against their nationally-branded peers with a fraction of the budget. Paying attention to trends in meeting spaces and design across diverse industries helps you to promote your space and sometimes, even levels the playing field.
After all, with fewer levels of decision-making, you can make agile turns quickly and efficiently. For example, if you’ve never considered reaching out for business events because your location is Outside the Perimeter (for readers outside the Atlanta Metro, substitute your major downtown area here), you’re ignoring one major draw you have in your favor – free parking. Weekday meeting attendees are willing to travel further out for the opportunity to save $20 a day, especially for multi-day events. Knowing how to maximize the unique selling proposition of your space can help you draw more business in, Monday-Friday.
The biggest thing you should understand is that meetings are no longer characterized by precisely set notebooks and pens. More than just space and wifi, meetings and events must deliver a complete experience to be successful. This is even more true for business events and classes, as social events already tend to have décor in mind during the planning process. More and more, meetings are evolving as live marketing opportunities. For MeetSuites guests, the ultimate goal of hosting a meeting, popup shop or class is to show off their services to potential clients and close deals. Help organizers provide their unique brand experience in your space by leveraging your venue’s style, amenities, and location, and everybody wins.
More than just space and wifi, meetings and events must deliver a complete experience to be successful.
While you are selling your space to meeting organizers, the invisible decision-makers are the attendees of their events. In marketing their events to paying attendees, your venue is critical to the sale. This is where design trends come in. As offices spaces become more collaborative, meeting spaces, too, must respond. The fastest-growing trend in office and meeting design is towards more communal experiences. That is, more plants, smaller tables for easier conversations, more living room-style lounge spaces. Spaces should be as inspiring as they are functional.
For venue owners, it may be hard to think about your space as anything other than a location for large, impressive events and parties. Try staging one of your smaller spaces as a lounge area. The easiest look to recreate these days (and our office favorite) may be Mid Century Modern, since it’s pretty much everywhere. Following the #IKEAhack tag on Instagram yields tons of inspiration.
Know Your Neighborhood.
Social events usually come with a caterer, but business events often do not. Keeping track of food and amenity options in your area isn’t just neighborly, it’s essential. You are often introducing organizers to an area they’ve never visited or don’t frequent, so you’ll have to act as tour guide to let them know what they can expect as they plan their event. Who delivers? What ethnic cuisine is nearby? Where can they get last minute supplies? Think about all the ways you can save your clients from wandering around aimlessly and consulting Google from the road. In fact, consider becoming a Google Local Guide.
Pay Attention to Microbusinesses.
Consultants, authors, creative professionals and other freelancers are often underrepresented and even ignored by large business associations. Membership fees are substantial, and programming is generally targeted to businesses with employees and large contracts. However, many, many successful business owners work from home and only need space to hold meetings occasionally. While coworking spaces do cater to these professionals, more and more locations are requiring a monthly membership fee even for those who only work outside their home office once or twice a month. Additionally, conference room time is increasingly hard to book, since members get first choice on such prime spaces. Indeed, MeetSuites was born to help this underserved community of professionals find the spaces they need to sustain and grow their businesses.
As venue owners, this is a great opportunity to get traffic in your doors during the slow weekdays, while still serving your weekend social event clients. For example, providing space for MeetUp groups for free one or two weeknights a month makes you the group’s first choice for their conference planning. Keep in mind, though, that these small businesses generally do not use venue directories aimed at meeting and event planners to find spaces. They talk to their friends – who are usually other business owners. Therefore, your website and social media accounts must show off more than just wedding and baby shower setups to attract these clients. (Refer back to #1 above)
Once you make the decision to pursue business clients and increase your weekday bookings, attracting the notice of the types of businesses that you’ll want to work with is the next step. If you’d like to tap into the growing market of freelancers and solopreneurs, well, we know a team that’s ready to help.