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Changing Venues – If needed, how to do it.

BNI Chapters rarely make one venue their home forever. But changing venues is not something to be undertaken lightly. If handled properly, a change of meeting place can have many benefits for the Chapter and its members. But if it’s unnecessary, or for the wrong reasons, or the process is handled incorrectly, the change can create challenges that would be better off avoided.

Often in a Chapter’s early days, a venue will be chosen that perfectly suits their needs at the time. But as Chapters develop, they can often outgrow their home, and there comes a need to move on.

In some unfortunate situations, the relationship between venues and Chapters can change, and this too can lead to the need to change homes. The relationship between the venue and the Chapter needs to be strong and mutually happy if we are to provide the best environment for our members and visitors.

Regardless of the reason for the change, the process for finding a new home needs to be (like all things in BNI) professional, considered, and in the best interest of the members and future visitors.

In 2017, BNI Achievers felt they could no longer operate out of their host venue. The venue management were increasingly less accommodating, resulting in the Chapter being bumped to rooms that were too small in favour of other bookings. On two occasions they were bumped from the venue altogether. Apart from being a breach of the host venue’s agreement and causing significant disruption for the members and Leadership Team, I’d argue it’s also very short-sighted on behalf of venue management.

Host venues enjoy approximately 50 guaranteed bookings per year, plus all the (harder to track) spin-off income from members buying coffees while conducting One-to-Ones, plus the exposure to approximately 300 visitors per Chapter per year, some of whom are likely to host their own events from time to time. Is it any surprise that three forward thinking local venues host more than 50% of the 14 Chapters in Adelaide between them?

So the decision was made to seek a new home, and all Chapter members were invited to suggest potential venues. A long list of venues was suggested, and the Leadership Team culled this list down to a short list quite quickly by phoning potential venues and investigating their suitability. The remaining shortlist was then whittled down further by members of the Leadership Team visiting potential venues and discounting them based on the requirements within the formal BNI Venue Guidelines document.

They were left with three potential venues in the end, of which one was discounted due to lack of faith in the venue management. Trial Chapter meetings were held at each of the remaining two venues, after which the Leadership Team discussed and decided on their new home in consultation with their members.

I’m now quite proud to say that BNI Achievers are the only Chapter in Australia to be operating out of an official AFL venue. The Port Adelaide Football Club in Alberton. The PAFC management value the Chapter’s business and their Venue manager is now a 2nd year member of the Chapter, having recently renewed.

Because it was handled correctly, BNI Achievers have gone from a challenging venue, where they were treated poorly, to a high-profile venue that accommodates them professionally and with mutual respect.

In the past 18 months, several local Chapters have found themselves in the same position and have gone through a similar process, with the support of their BNI Director, to find an appropriate new home.

If ever there is consideration of a venue change for your Chapter, the first thing to do is talk to your Director Consultant. They can advise on what to do, and how to go about doing it.

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