The sad reality is that there are lots of people who just don’t value space. The only way you can get people to value YOUR space is by setting some clear boundaries and sticking to them.
When you’re just getting started and hungry for exposure, it makes sense to host lots of free events. But it doesn’t last. The space costs money, wear and tear costs money, and the time and energy that has to be put into coordinating, setting up, and cleaning up (ugh, garbage juice) must be valued or it something is going to go wrong eventually (that is, someone 's going to quit, or you’re going to burn out).
You WANT your space to be teeming with events all the time, but it has to be done in a way that feeds back to you.
At New Work City, we worked out several arrangements. YMMV based on the nature of your facility, but here’s a rough outline of some of the things we did:
Non-member rental: we rent out use of our event space to people whose events are complimentary to our membership for around $100/hour, plus additional fees for things like catering or use of our fancy projector. One of our team staffs the event to ensure it all goes well.
Member rental: a member can rent the space at a discount, provided they’ve been trained in how to set up, break down, and lock up. If they fail to turn the place back into a pristine coworking space by daybreak, they don’t get to do an event again. (You can be nice but firm about this; any rational person will understand.)
The hardest part about this for us was that our event space was never that easy to delegate. The AV setup was complicated and our supplies were stashed in nooks and crannies, so only we knew where to find a lot of things.
If you plan your event space to be very easy to train someone else to run, you’ll cut down drastically on your own labor and cost.
Sponsored space: We ran a program for a while where we hosted a selected group of Meetup groups for free, underwritten by sponsors. The sponsors got visibility to the members of all of the Meetup groups, which was compelling to them because they didn’t have to work deals with each group.
It worked pretty well for a good run. We didn’t keep it up because finding and maintaining sponsor relationships wasn’t our strong point and coordinating the Meetups was pretty labor intensive and not worth what we were pulling in.
That said, I think it’s a model that works if you’re willing to commit to it and can execute it better than we did.
Revenue share: This is maybe the easiest thing to get everyone to say yes to. If it’s a typically free event, ask that they charge each attendee $10 to attend, and you’ll pocket all of that. In this case, there’s no money out of the pocket of the organizer, so they have no risk, but you still get to gain something by hosting, and you have an incentive to help them promote and make the event a success.
All this being said, in the 6+ years I hosted events at New Work City I can’t say I ever found a model that felt totally right for me. I think we came close a few times, and ultimately am glad we did run events in the space as it was a helpful additional revenue stream, did increase our exposure, and most importantly accounted for a significant portion of the impact we had.
Let us know how it goes!
On Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 4:07 PM, Glen Ferguson [email protected] wrote:
I’ve been scouring the group archives but I can’t find the right search terms, so time for a new question.
Who has an arrangement/agreement with an outside group (meetups, organizations, non-profits, etc.) to use your space for recurring meetings? And can you share some details (you provide x, they provide y)?
Background for those that are interested:
We’ve been hosting several meetup groups for some time now as well as another group that is a non-profit organization for designers/graphic artists. This group charges its members dues and at least one of their meetings each month has a token $5 charge for non-members.
The current President of the group is a member of Cowork Frederick, so holding their meetings has been a perk that was tied to her membership. She wisely thinks that something should be in place that doesn’t tie this to a member, but to the organization, so there’s stability and an agreement in place when a new President takes over.
We’re working out the terms, and there’s some resistance from a few people on their board. I’ve offered a viable and hugely discounted rate, but the pushback is along the lines that I should let them meet here for free in exchange for “exposure.” (Right now, every freelancer reading this is either laughing or groaning). In the two years we’ve been doing this, we’ve gained zero new members from them, so that’s not helping us any.
Email: [email protected]
Address: 122 E Patrick St, Frederick, MD 21701
If you have any sort of arrangement with a group to meet at your space, could you share some details of the terms? What are you doing for them and what are they doing for you?
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