Nothing replaces face-to-face time. It was alright while we were reliant on the virtual world, but times have shifted again. The world of work has moved on. But the good news is meetings don’t have to centre around the traditional approach of a board room table, super stylish office chairs and glass! Instead, the pub meeting option delivers style, character and in many cases a little piece of history with them too. And with one eye on limiting carbon footprints, they also offer great spaces on the doorstep; right across the country!
However, when pubs and inns are looking to fulfil all of this and more, adopt these key principles:
1. Think about your space
Be realistic about your seating and other furniture in the room. How many people can your room really take for a meeting? By that you need to re-consider how you perceive your space, as this is not about dining. This is about something different and about creating unique experiences outside of the meeting norm. People will need to move around, present, and even potentially take part in low-key activities. So, what formats really work best? Is it great for a group of people to sit round and brainstorm or could you also have rows of chairs with someone presenting from the front?
2. The shape of things
A circular table is perfect for discussion, whereas a rectangle one can make everything feel more formal. Maybe it requires only a small table at the front. Whatever the dynamic, think through first how it could work best for your venue. Then talk and listen to what your customer is wanting to do. Ask them what they want, so you can make sure you have the room all ready to go, in the format they want prior to their arrival.
3. Wonderful WiFi
That all important connection we are all so reliant on must be easy to login, have a strong signal and be able to withstand multiple users. Granted to some connecting with the world may be banished while they are with you, but the option must be there. Also, make it obvious how to connect. You and your team will be asked, so save the bother and have the relevant information readily available.
4. The power of power
Laptops, mobiles, tablets…everything eats power. So, while your space may predominately be set up for dining, it is worth considering how many plug sockets there are, and are they conveniently located for wires to reach them. Or you may want to have a few extension cables available should they be requested but don’t forget the H&S requirements.
5. Shed some light on it
Natural light is fabulous and can help get brain ideas flowing, particularly when those mid-afternoon lulls might kick in. But you also need to be mindful that bright sunlight can make screens difficult to read, so think about the different options and how you can make the light work at different times of the days.
6. Let the outside in
Well maybe not literally, but there is a definite advantage to being able to open a window. So simple and yet an often under recognised benefit of a meeting space. It can often get quite warm when there are a lot of people in one space. Therefore, if you have windows or doors encourage your guests to open them. It will help with their brain power and keep ideas flowing.
7. Let food be the essence of productivity
The right food at the right time makes all the difference. Specific snacks at rigid break times will no longer cut-it. If you have the facilities offer a continuous break system! A great way to maximise the revenue opportunity too. Provide welcome refreshments, mid-morning, and mid-afternoon options alongside lunch. But also consider offering a selection of items to pick on for food on demand. Not necessarily just sweets and sugary treats as many bookers and planners are attracted by healthier options too.
8. Play to your pub strengths
While ultimately their focus will be on the meeting, this is your chance to play to the strengths of primarily being a pub. You are likely to be able to deliver a more unique meeting experience; so, celebrate it! If you have great outside space, suggest they visit the garden for a session. Propose a wrap up session in the bar or recommend they extend their day with an early dinner before they leave.
9. Little touches
Think about how others see your space. The way you view it most days of the week, will be differently to how others see it. Ask a new member of staff to look at the meeting room ‘cold’ and what would they improve to make it a better meeting environment. Does the furniture need a freshen up? What state is your technology in – should you move to a plasma screen rather than a pull up or down screen? How easy is it to connect a laptop to the projector or screen? Maybe have a ‘meeting room toolkit’ with essential items in it, such as extension cables, various leads, pens and paper that can be supplied to accommodate those ‘I’ve forgotten…’ requests.
10. Make your online meetings information sing!
Words are all important, so make sure you accurately portray what your meeting space can deliver. However, even more powerful will be your images. These will give an instant impression on whether the space will work for what a booker or planner is looking for. So, take the time to set it up as you would for a meeting. Add an ironed tablecloth, vase of flowers, carafe of water and glasses to show subtle touches.
The beauty of using a pub as a meeting space is that you can offer a great combination of a warm welcome, gentle informality, privacy and facilities to help businesses and people to catch up. The options are powerful. Whether that is for a general meeting, workshop, brainstorm, to conduct interviews or a training opportunity off-site.
So, take a step back and properly consider what people look for from a meeting space and make sure that you provide it (and more!).