The venue for your meetings is as important as the content. Here are some points to consider when choosing a new site or evaluating your current one.
Step 1 — Is it convenient?
The larger the association, the wider the geographic area your members represent. Try to find a place as close to the center of that area as possible. The less distance people have to travel, the more likely they are to attend meetings. Another consideration is access. Is the location off the beaten path or close to major freeways?
Step 2 — Is it the right size?
It is encouraging to look out into the audience and see every seat filled. But if those people are feeling claustrophobic, sitting elbow-to-elbow in tight rows, their thoughts will be on how uncomfortable they are, not on the material being presented. Be sure the members have enough room to spread out a bit. Conversely, a room that is way too big will make everyone feel disassociated from each other and the program.
Step 3 — Is it available when you need it?
If your group has traditionally met on Tuesday nights, but your meeting place hosts another group on the dates you want, you have a choice to make: change your meeting night or find a different place. Officials are creatures of habit. So, if you can avoid the bigger change — a new night — do it.
Step 4 — Is it affordable?
Some community centers or places of business charge groups to use their facilities. If you must pay, be sure the association budget accounts for it. In the case of public facilities, you may be able to convince the decision-makers that officiating provides a community service and you will get the room for free. If it’s a tavern, restaurant or banquet hall, you may be able to negotiate a deal in which your group pledges to spend X dollars per meeting on food and beverages in exchange for free rental.