Down the way, were a few of my club members huddled around their cars in the cold, already wondering if and where we were going to hold our meeting - a meeting/party we had boldly scheduled at our normal 7:00 pm time, despite the holiday.
Smart phones out, we started looking for alternate venues. Whole Foods? Soon to close for the night? The local diner? Pretty loud and we couldn't bring in the food we had brought. Same for McDonalds, even though it had a private meeting room (the only one I've ever seen in a McDs, actually). One of our member just leased a meeting facility for weddings and events - but the heater was on the fritz.
It looked bleak, until our newest member volunteered his home, which was just about a mile away. His wife was with him (she's been a guest at all the meetings he, and their son, our second newest member, have attended), so he had immediate buy-in from the boss!
The only guest we expected had already been contacted with the change in plans, and while we started late, we got the meeting in - two speeches, topics, and all, followed by the party - all in the comfort of a wonderfully still-decorated holiday household.
I've had similar situations in the past, and often they seem unavoidable. Building closings, problems with the heat, double-bookings, the person with the keys is detained or just doesn't show.
Is your club prepared for your next 'location crisis'?
Four items to consider at your next Officer Meeting:
1. Be Proactive, not Reactive. We should have verified building access for a holiday. Our SAA is new, but that's no excuse - I've been in 15 years, and I didn't even think about the potential issue - none of us did.
2. Have a Back-Up. Do you have a default second location? Find one close - and if it's a restaurant, maybe even have a meeting there once a quarter to keep it 'in the rotation'. A little variation in routine can be healthy, and having the goodwill of the owner always helps.
3. Have a Communication Plan. How will you let members know to re-route? Do you have a call list on your phone? An easily accessible email/text list? Will you leave a note behind for guests, or an actual person who can be late for the changed meeting time/place in said emergency?
4. Create a Flexible Culture. You never know what's going to happen. Not that long ago, the dealership pulled up all the carpet in the facility, and closed our room down, without notice. We survived that for a couple of weeks, but only because our folks are willing to go with the flow vs. throwing their hands up and cancelling. Flexibility starts at the top - you know, where leaders are made!
Our crisis had a happy ending. What are YOUR venue horror stories, and how have you solved them - or not?