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Small room. Small meeting. Big business.

Apparently, King Arthur was on to something when he said, “Sitting in circles provokes a collective mindset.” Today, booking a small-scale meeting at a hotel no longer means sitting in windowless, overly air-conditioned rooms while feasting on cold cuts! 

With hotels successful in their quest to lure leisure travelers back (a major shout-out to an improved economy!), next on the “win the customers back” agenda is the fickle market of booking small meetings for less than 20 guests.

Off-site, face-to-face think tanks are back on trend, and those tasked with locating a great room have upped the ante as they scout spaces “outside the traditional.” Regardless of the type of meeting or industry, guests are breaking away from the confines of formal, sterile and cold meeting rooms in lieu of something that will soften the edge and routine general meetings tend to create. Rooms with character and personality are key. Think along the lines of what you would expect Google, Apple or a creative ad agency would desire, and you’ll see an increase in your small meetings profits.

Whether you opt for bold, unexpected pops of color, a contemporary feeling or modern-conventional, keep in mind that themes or a lounge-like atmosphere are what meeting planners want. In fact, offering a collection of unique rooms that can serve smaller head counts will instantly put you in the running.

What follows are one-of-a-kind concepts, ideas and themes to trigger internal conversations at your property so you too can jump on this lucrative trend. And whatever you create, be sure to include your PR and social media team at the conclusion of the project because word will travel, especially for the upcoming holiday season’s meeting needs.

Instant drama

Go dramatic with a tone-on-tone color theme that encompasses a majority of the room. The best drama will come from an all-black or all-white room such as the popular options at the SLS in Los Angeles. 

Think SoHo

Convert a standard guestroom with wood or concrete-like flooring, throw rugs, an avant garde lamp that triggers conversation, a glass table and eclectic sofas and chairs that pair rather than match identically. If incorporating plants, consider succulents due to their hardiness and minimal maintenance needs.

An artistic approach 

Think oversized wall art such as unframed canvas paintings, (using local artists who consign their work is always a good idea), a tall statue, a gallery type of pedestal with a sculpture and hard flooring so you can incorporate swivel chairs. Remember, less is more to achieve a gallery feeling.

Mix and match

Catch your clients off guard with striped walls, jolts of color and a one-of-a-kind chandelier. A fun project to inaugurate the new room while increasing employee camaraderie is to implement a room name contest among your staff. (Attendees will also enjoy it!)

Surprise, surprise 

Use two tables similar in shape and color but different in size. One might have a seating capacity of four to six attendees while the oversized table would have enough room for 10-plus. Each chair is identical but a different color! To pull this off, you may need to have the chairs recovered, as you will need at least five colors to achieve the desired effect. Add an old-school black chalkboard to the room for additional character but keep the room almost accessory-free so the spotlight is on the carousel of color!

Ideas for the menu

Bento-style snack boxes or plates, a make-your-own trail-mix station, clever lemonade and water displays and a French press fair trade coffee bar are a few hits I’ve incorporated in my own meetings that were well received.

Now it’s your turn to share what you are contemplating for your property. Have there been any great elements in a past small meeting that resonated or left a positive impression on attendees? Whether it’s a great room theme or clever array of interactive menu items, let’s keep this lucrative meeting trend alive with more outside-the-box suggestions!

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