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Free or Cheap Meeting Rooms
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I did my first public seminar in Norfolk, Virginia this week and had 51 paid attendees. To keep my costs down, I did a trade-out with a local non-profit. They provided the meeting space and all refreshments and I let them send 4 staffers for free. Though I hate to travel, I will consider doing this in other cities and piggybacking public seminars onto other paid speaking engagements or consulting assignments.
Do any of you have tips on how to find free or inexpensive meeting rooms? Since these seminars are only a half-day, I don't have to worry about providing lunch.
-- Tom Terrific
1. Libraries -- no or low cost -- can't be beat.
2. Find out where the local Toastmasters-Rotary-Kiwanis clubs meet. They are usually a good source for inexpensive rooms. My club meets in a very nice hotel meeting room and I can get it for less than $100 for half a day.
Probably, the farther away you get from downtown, the lower the cost will be.
-- Stacy Robinson
I often hold my seminars, as well as the occasional "banquet," in churches. My business is ministry-related so it lends itself to a church setting, but I've known other organizations to use church facilities for their meetings as well. Fees are usually very minimal -- often only a set-up and cleaning fee. When using the church's in-house food service, the fees are extremely competitive.
Some community centers are professional enough for seminars and require minimal fees.
Just this week I set up a year of monthly meetings at a local hotel for no fee at all. We offered them "sponsorship" status and inclusion of the name of the hotel on certain of our products.
-- Linda Swindling, CSP
In addition to the obvious -- schools, churches, community colleges, community rooms in libraries and meeting rooms in community centers (places with space that is for classroom or meetings but isn't always used) -- you might look into local associations in your city. We have a few associations here that will "sponsor" the event and send out info to their members. Their members get a slight price reduction on the fee, you get advertising & a place to invite others.
Many times, the associations will offer snacks, etc. Another option is to have a company host the event. In exchange, one or two of their people go free, and the rest can pay full or reduced price and you're allowed to invite others. In both the sponsor or hosting situation, the organization actually may help you fill your class.
-- Brian Jeffrey
You might try community colleges as a source of inexpensive meeting rooms.
-- Elaine Dumler
I found libraries to be a valuable source of very nice meeting rooms that are usually free, or at a nominal cost. It's perfect if you don't have to provide lunch. Sometimes the library will let you set up a coffee service in the room, or now many larger libraries have a great coffee cart where participants can pick up a specialty coffee and bagel on their own. I've also used rooms in campus libraries of community colleges.
-- Kare Anderson
Ask the hotel, non-profit organization or public facility (college or high school space) to trade: provide the space in exchange for a certain number of free tickets/spaces in your seminar for their employees, customers, members or other key people.
I've found great spaces with sun-lit rooms, convenient locations, well-designed space and ample, free parking -- with grateful hosts. It helps to approach someone who has attended your presentation. Some will get inspired to help promote your session to their key publics.
-- Gloria Pierre
I often use a room at one of the local churches. It is not in the basement but on the main floor. There are always other groups in the building so we don't feel isolated. I have the same environment when I rent classrooms at one of the universities. Both these venues are in different parts of the city so I'm accommodating my clients. The cost for both is Cdn$30 per hour.
-- Resli Costabell
I'm based in England, but some of what works here may work where you are:
- community hall/centre
- church or other religious buildings' facilities
- your alma mater
- your children's school or alma maters
- charity and other not-for-profit organisations' premises
- local government buildings
- for weekends, many businesses normally closed on weekends will be delighted to let you use their offices, for a fee.
- swap with a formal conference venue: you get hire of the place for $1 and they get to have all of their staff attend (minus essential staff for the event)
-- Joanne Victoria
- Banks have community rooms if it helps the community, they will let you have them, free/fee.
- Title companies always have conference rooms if you have a relationship with a Realtor, pursue this avenue. If not a Realtor, a mortgage broker.
- Local community centers always have small(er) rooms available for free or no fee.
- Your local gyms sometimes have community rooms for use.
- Retirement communities will let you use their meeting rooms for free/low fee.
-- Joanne Dennison
How about Assisted Living Facilities? Some of them near us have very nice rooms that they will rent inexpensively. For example, I just rented a room last night for an evening meeting. It is beautiful, they will provide a lectern and microphone, it has a kitchen that I can use, and I can bring my own food and drink. Cost? $100. And that is in NJ where meeting space is one of the highest.
-- Kathy Fediw
- Look into membership with your local chamber of commerce. For $27 a month membership, I can rent state-of-the-art meeting space at my local Chamber, with free coffee and soft drinks -- the best deal in town.
- Some post offices have small meeting rooms they'll rent out for next to nothing.
- Some airports also have meeting room space, especially convenient for out-of-town visitors. Rates vary so call first.
- Municipalities, especially those who have recently over-expanded their offices, will rent out meeting rooms at a very reasonable cost, as will many schools and universities, especially during off-hours.
- Churches and other worship centers rent out their classrooms during the week for a nominal fee or donation.
- CompUSA will often rent out their training rooms, complete with computer stations. Rates vary depending on your computer needs.
- Many towns have "incubators" for women- and minority-owned businesses, often affiliated with their Chamber of Commerce. You can rent out office space or flex-office space for a very low cost and have access to their meeting room space as well. Rental space for the one in my area starts at $60 per month for flex space.
I have found these spaces work well for clients coming from the small business sector and for consulting clients flying in for the day. You may also look into them for local NSA chapter meetings.