Since I get to work at such a phenomenal meeting facility I’m obviously biased as to where you should hold your business meetings. That being said, I know there are times you may not have the budget to rent an offsite location for particular events. So, where do you hold these meetings? In other words, where can you find free meeting spaces?
I’ve discussed with my team here at sparkspace and have gathered a list of places that are either free or have very minimal pricing for those times you just don’t have the budget for an offsite meeting space, but still want to get offsite.
As long as you’re not participating in any earth-shattering team building activities the public library is a great place to go offsite for no or minimal expense. Most communities have a public library with private rooms and free wifi. You may need to bring some of your own materials, but the next time you’re in a pinch check your local library.
I’m sure you’re familiar with a local park that has a sheltered area or even a closed-off facility onsite. Parks are wonderful, especially if your meeting focus is on team building or brainstorming; although, it may not be so great for powerpoint presentations or meetings that require wifi. Many community parks have shelters you can reserve at no cost, and they are a wonderful option to get the team out of the office on a spring or fall day.
Some people may think this is a strange location for a business meeting, but church buildings are typically not being utilized during the week, they have great space/acoustics, presenting equipment, and can be rented at a very low cost. This may not be an option at all church buildings, but it’s worth asking if you need a free/low cost space.
Most of us have been to a meeting at a Panera or Starbucks, right? Well, probably because the space is inexpensive to rent, and they have lots of coffee! Again, these aren’t the best spaces to have large meetings, but it does provide a functional space to meet with minimal cost. Groups of 2-4 are best suited at coffee shops.
Restaurants with private rooms are a great place to have a lunch or dinner meeting for larger groups. As long as you’re buying food, the cost is normally free to use these spaces. Who doesn’t love a great meal during their meeting?
Common Spaces in Hotels
Typically, common spaces in hotels have spacious lobbies with several different seating areas and lounges. These areas are best for shorter meetings, and it also doesn’t hurt if you’re a hotel guest. Although, it’s not uncommon in larger cities to meet in a lobby or lounge of a larger hotel.
Common Spaces in Large Convention Centers
There are usually a TON of places to meet informally in a convention center. Newer convention centers, and recently renovated ones, have incorporated tons of conversation areas.
These are great options because they sit empty during the day and will rent out very cheaply. Theaters are also great for presenting, good acoustics, and comfy seating!
Large Corporation Conference Centers
These spaces can often be hard to come by because of all the internal use, but if they have availability they are typically free, or very low cost to rent. I know this is a great resource for non-profits and state-funded departments.
Working in downtown Columbus, you see this a lot. Business meetings on the go! What better way to get out of the office, have a discussion with your co-workers, and burn a few calories all at the same time. Steve Jobs used to invite people to walk with him instead of having a meeting. No space required!
Someone’s House (or Cabin)
Lots of executives have very nice, and very big houses. Why not have a meeting at their house? Many people have held meetings or retreats at their boss’ house, and it costs nothing to use the space. I put cabin, because my boss has recently offered up his cabin for an upcoming team building day! Our team is very excited and grateful to get off site, even though we have an awesome space!
Well, I hope this list is a useful resource for you and your teams, or maybe you know of a non-profit that would benefit from this information. Thanks for reading my blog posts, and please feel free to add any other suggestions you may have on free meeting spaces in the comments below.