First, thank you to the 20 people who responded to the survey. It's very important that we know what works for you, so that we can try to plan our events in the future. It's difficult finding places that give us everything we would like to have, so since compromises need to be made it's good to know what's important to you.
The Day Chapter has succeeded as a women's group due to many factors, not least of which is intimacy and respect for ladies who have a more flexible daytime than evening schedule. We would like to increase attendance and "shake it up" without alienating the ladies who faithfully have been attending nearly all of our events. So this is "change enough, but not too much" territory.
Someone wished that we had addressed what time is best for meetings in the survey, and they would prefer after 5pm. That slot was formerly filled by the evening chapters throughout the area, and for a variety of reasons they're not here anymore. The Day Chapter will throw an occasional networking soiree but we are not changing from an ongoing daytime to evening meeting. Both Melanie and I have other things to do with our evenings, and of course that's why it's called the "Day Chapter" :) We weren't looking to change the time of the meetings from being firmly placed around a typical lunchtime. Please attend our occasional evening events, and stick around in case anyone steps up to run evening events on a more regular basis. There's a lot of networking competition in the evenings, and I'm sad that this isn't convenient for you. Hopefully there are ladies who have the drive to start an ongoing evening event.
Private Room vs. Price
In the survey we had a strong positive response to having a separate room, and an even stronger positive response to our new pricing structure ($10 meeting fee + pay for your own food/tax/tip). At most establishments this combination is mutually exclusive. :) A separate area typically means a separate server dedicated to your group, and of course it means that the establishment can't book a more profitable party at the same time in the space. Our meetings have been about 10-12 ladies on average, which isn't enough people to reserve most private rooms. We'll see what we can do, but this is a tall order!
Also, larger groups (6+) are usually on a single check, 18% gratuity automatically figured in. Parties that use a separate room are typically given a fixed menu. We negotiated with The Copper Bottom and all our other host establishments to charge a flat per-head fee that included unlimited soft drinks. The challenge in a moving meeting with private seating is having to negotiate with every individual establishment -- and it would not usually be "order off the menu". What I figured is until we have over 15 attendees on a regular basis, we have little bargaining power over getting private seating. We can simply call in a warning to the establishment to expect us, ask if they'd be able to seat us on a typical Wednesday, make sure that either Melanie or I show up early enough to get the large table we'd need, and request the courtesy of separate checks in return for a guarantee of 18% gratuity or better for the wait staff. I've waited tables, and I really feel this is very important.
Warms MY heart!
We did have a great response to the idea of healthy choices, more so than local establishments, etc. but it wasn't the top criteria for anyone.
One way to have a private room & the lowest price & the most healthy choices, etc. was to meet at member offices or public locations and bring our own lunch, or do a potluck. However, this was NOT a popular choice with the ladies -- only a couple even put it on their list, and it wasn't a high priority. I guess ladies like to be served more than they like privacy or to save money :) Someone offered their office for a meeting. If the response had been better to do that, I'd take you up on it! I don't have an eat-in office myself. See me (Criss) about Holistic Hudson Valley if your business is holistic! :)
(still in progress -- digesting the survey responses & comments)