What Makes a Great Venue for Your Meetup Group, And How to Find It!
Posted: September 25, 2019
By: Mike Zornek
One of the larger blockers you’ll encounter when starting up a group is, where are we going to meet? Finding any venue can be tricky. Finding a great venue requires dedication and has a lot of things to consider. In this post we’ll give you a checklist to help you when picking a venue for your next event.
Know What Kind of Event You Want to Host
Before you go searching for a venue you should have a few basics about the event in mind. How many people do you want to host? Will there be presentations or is this more of a social mixer? Understand what you want the event to be and what people should get out of the event.
Also, write this stuff down. It’ll be easy to share or recall during a phone call with a venue event manager.
What Makes a Great Room
You want a room that is big enough to fit everyone but not too big to feel empty or only half full.
You want to have access to the air conditioning or heat controls. Many times these events happen in off hours in which these systems are programmed to be offline or lowered.
Be Mindful and Intentional When Designing Seating
You want a room where people can walk around and mingle. And for this reason, I personally discourage auditorium-like seating. You could counter this by having two rooms, one a pre-event mixer space and then open the auditorium for when the presentations are to begin.
If given a single room, I think round tables are the best as they force people to look at each other which usually spurs conversation, though they do require more space.
What Makes a Great Location
Pick a venue that is centralized amongst the prospective attendees. Consider offering a survey beforehand to help understand how people plan to travel to this event.
A great venue has access to public transit, parking and bike racks. Sharing this kind of info, when also sharing the address, can be immensely helpful to attendees.
A great venue also has kitchen support facilities for things like water and trash. You’ll also want to make sure there are nearby and available bathrooms.
Signage is important and people should easily be able to find your event room. If possible, you’ll be able to post some day-of signage yourself to point people in the right direction.
Finally a great venue has security. Many events happen at night and knowing there is a security guard on site can help ease some tensions.
It’s hard to find all of these attributes but at least document what you want to have and understand when you are making a compromise.
Don’t Forget the Presenter’s Concerns
If your event is going to have one or more presenters there are more things to plan when it comes to the venue.
- Does your presenter plan to use a projector and slides?
- Do they plan to stand in front of their laptop at a podium or walk around?
- Will they need power or internet access?
- Do we need to mic the presenter and use speakers to project their voice?
Some speakers might benifit from a a stool or table they can lean on. It’s also nice to have a few bottles of water in case they get a case of dry throat.
After handing the basics you could also consider some extra nice to haves like a timer they can reference to know how much time is left or a second screen of the slides they can reference while looking at the audience.
Where is This Magical Place?
Ok that’s all great but where do I find such a place?
One of the first venue types I would consider is nearby corporate offices. Many companies already have nice meeting rooms and other things from our checklist, and are usually willing to let you use the space for free for some “sponsorship marketing”.
Public spaces like libraries and college campuses can also work out though usually require some connections to make work smoothly.
Coworking offices are popping up all over and can provide a good venue. Just be aware they usually charge real money for the spaces so maybe plan for a sponsor to help support such costs.
I generally try to avoid public places like coffee shops unless there is a sectioned off area you can utilize. Also, never plan an event at a location without first getting permission.
Finally, look at other groups in the area and where they hold their events. Don’t be shy and ask their leadership how they like the venue and if it is available.
Having a great venue can be a big part of holding a great event. Good luck finding yours!
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