When you find yourself in a new city for business, deciding on the best place to hold a meeting can often feel overwhelming. With seemingly endless possibilities, but often limited time and limited knowledge of the area, it can be difficult trying to find an appropriate place to meet potential stakeholders, business partners or clients. As I often travel for work myself, I’ve had a wealth of experience finding new and vibrant places to hold business meetings. Whether you’re looking for somewhere grand and important, or trendy and laid back, here is my advice for narrowing down your search.
No matter what your needs are, or how well you know a city, there’s always a great place for you to go and meet the people you need to.
If you’re looking to impress, hotels are the ideal venues for an important meeting, and can accommodate as many people as needed. Scattered across cities, in both central and far flung locations, hotels bring together the perfect blend of practical, chic, and fancy. Hotels have all the amenities you might require (including lunch and coffee, or an overnight room for those who might need it), as well as a touch of luxury, and helpful staff are always on hand to help with anything you might need.
You can meet in hotel bars, restaurants and cafes; or, many hotels even have meeting rooms available to hire. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel overnight, you can book these facilities using platforms such as DayBreakHotels, who specialise in renting out hotel facilities for daytime use. Hotels have something to suit everyone, with lots of great perks and benefits.
- Cafes or Coffee Shops
Throughout most modern cities you’ll find an abundance of cafes and coffee shops, which are the ideal setting for an informal meeting. Whether you’re looking for a comfortingly familiar and recognisable chain, or want to go somewhere new and independent, there’s always a wealth of choice available. No doubt you’ll be able to find a spot that is conveniently located for all parties.
A hive of activity, the level of background noise in a cafe or coffee shop often lends itself to first meetings or informal conversations. If you’re not ready for the seriousness and silence of a board room, a cafe is your best bet! The long opening hours and lax rules also mean you’ll be welcome to stay as long as you like, and won’t be hurried out for another booking should your meeting run over. It’s also likely that there’ll be free WiFi for customers, which makes getting plenty of work done before, during, and after your meeting super easy. If WiFi is essential, we’d recommend calling ahead first to double check this is something on offer.
Finally, the cost of a coffee meeting is low, surmounting to no more than a few drinks and a quick bite to eat, if you fancy it!
- Walking Meetings
If you’re short on time, blessed with good weather, and talking about something creative, then a walking meeting is hugely efficient. These kinds of meetings are particularly ideal if you’re having a brainstorm or catch up with colleagues overseas.
Most cities have local parks, gardens, or designated pedestrian zones available to all. You can keep your walk as short or as long as needed and if you have another appointment to go to, can pick a route that is going in the right direction. Alternatively, if you find yourself in need of more time, you can easily tailor your route so that you have a little longer to chat and flesh out ideas.
Keeping yourself and your company moving allows you to keep your thoughts moving, and the ideas and conversation flowing freely. Walking also lends itself to creativity, in step with the sunshine, open air, and surrounding nature. Being on the move with lots to look at and be inspired by creates a relaxed atmosphere, putting everyone at ease; and means you can get to know the city whilst getting work done!
Finally, walking meetings won’t cost you anything, and are a healthy way to get your mind and body moving during the working day.
- Co-Work Spaces
If you want to create a level of professionalism whilst away from the office, then co-work spaces are a great option. Co-working offices can be found throughout most cities, and they tend to be conveniently located, trendy, and lively. They do vary in style though, so you’ll be able to find a space that fits your requirements; whether that be somewhere casual, or somewhere more traditional.
Co-work spaces have all the amenities and features of a typical office, which means there will be printing facilities, WiFi, a kitchen, bathroom, and often impressive and high-tech meeting rooms that can be rented out.
Finally, co-work spaces provide a unique opportunity to network with other professionals across a range of industries. If you’re looking to grow your business in the city you’re visiting, consider hosting your meeting in a co-work space that is home to businesses in relevant sectors, and take the opportunity to network with professionals in the building who may well be of use to you and your business going forward. Two birds with one stone!
- A Bar
If you’re striving for a more casual and friendly meeting place, that’s a little more upmarket than a coffee shop, a bar could be ideal. Much like some of the places I’ve mentioned previously, bars can be found throughout the majority of big cities, and can range from chilled to swanky. If you are looking to impress, head to the city’s most upmarket district.
Despite being synonymous with evening occasions, most bars are open from the afternoon until late. They provide you with the opportunity to chat over a pint, glass of wine, or cocktail, and unwind whilst talking work. A drink at a nice bar is a great way to impress, whilst giving you the freedom to talk one-on-one and out-of-hours about pressing matters, or side projects. A bar doesn’t have the same workplace seriousness as a silent meeting room, or the same daytime casual feel of a coffee shop. A bar is a great place to connect with people and network when in a new city.
- A Restaurant
Cities are known for housing an eclectic range of restaurants, in which you’re sure to find an eatery that fits your preferred cuisine choice, or any dietary requirements. Conducting a meeting in a restaurant is a sure-fire way to impress your company, and build relationships. Good drinks, tasty food, and high-quality service all show that a level of care has been taken by you to emphasise your investment in the people you’re meeting. Picking up the tab also affirms this.
The length of a meal means there’ll be substantial time to talk business, and talk about other things too. Breakfast, lunch or dinner with colleagues, clients or business partners will help you build stronger working relationships with those individuals, and get to know them better, as you bridge that formal/informal gap.
I’d always try and opt for somewhere bright and spacious, with a varied menu to suit all tastes.
- Museum or Gallery
Although a museum or gallery may seem an unusual place to house a meeting, after further consideration you might find them an attractive option. In most cities their numbers are plentiful, and they are usually located fairly centrally. In addition, the large open spaces, inspiring works of art, and multiple coffee shops or restaurants on site provide many talking points and places to sit and talk business.
If you’re working on something creative, find out whether the city you’re heading to has any particular talks or exhibitions on that are relevant to your work, and suggest heading there for your meeting. It shows thought and care on your part, could lead to new ideas, and is both inspiring and memorable. You may also be able to establish similar interests and taking points with clients, beyond the realm of work, which will help facilitate lasting relationships.
A hub of both learning and business, universities can be found in the heart of many cities and are a great place to hold a meeting. Most universities have areas that are open to the public, and are designed for learning or group study, so can make tranquil and inspiring meeting places.
As well as communal spaces, universities often offer rentable conference facilities, lecture theatres, and smaller meeting rooms too, which you might be able to book if they suit your particular needs.
There’s something inspirational about being surrounded by young intellectuals on the cusp of their careers, and academics at the top of their respective fields. Meeting somewhere as vibrant as a university might encourage you to adopt a more open mindset, be more creative, and therefore get even more out of your meeting.
- Public Library
Finding a local library or larger scale library is an easy task in most cities. They are open to the public and of course, free. With designated sections for talking and silent areas, you are able to find a place to host a meeting. In addition to the aforementioned communal spaces, you can also reserve rooms.
The atmosphere of any library is sure to put you in a productive mood, as others around you read, study, or work, which will encourage you to do the same.
- A Rooftop
Finally, if you are in a city that is entirely new to you, then what better way to get to know it than to hold your meeting from a great vantage point? A bird’s eye view will not only make your meeting supremely enjoyable, but will also allow you to get to grips with your surroundings and understand the layout of the city.
Rooftops are growing in popularity and come in a variety of forms, from rooftop gardens on car parks, to cafe’s, bars, and restaurants on top of hotels and skyscrapers. There’s something magical about seeing a city from a great height, at day or night.
A nice rooftop location will also prove a unique and unusual destination for your meeting, and will make it fun for all parties involved. It will help you make a statement and show that you know how to impress, and like to do things differently.