English language conversation group

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English language conversation group

Postby lovingmyself » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:33 pm

I am currently running an English language conversation group through the meetup platform. This is a group I took over from someone over a year ago who left Montreal. We meet every second Tuesday in the evenings. Every second class is speed conversation where they talk for 10 minutes with someone and then change partners. Every other Tuesday is games and discussions where they play word and card games and/or answer questions on cards.

As an organizer of this meetup group I have to pay fees to Meetup of about $85 US every 6 months (twice a year). When I took over the group the fees the members paid were $2 per meetup which went towards paying for the group on meetup. When I first started in Spring 2016 I had large attendance. On average about 46 people would rsvp and about 25 or 30 people would show up which is a good average and which helped me pay for the group and make a bit of a profit.

Before the holiday season in December the attendance started to fall. I figured people were busy preparing for the holidays or they were travelling. After the holidays the attendance was still low and I attributed it to the winter weather which could be pretty bad. Because I was making less money and having to pay the fees for the group and also because the fees had not been increased since the advent of the group in 2011 I decided and was advised that it was time to raise the price. I decided to raise it to $5 per person but only raised it in May.

I thought in the spring that the attendance would increase which it did a little bit but then it started decreasing in the summertime. In other words 20 people would rsvp but only 6 would show up not enabling me to make money to cover the overhead.

This meetup was held at a cafe but then in July I was told I could not do the meetups there anymore because the attendance was low and it was not worth it for the owner to stay open and have to pay his staff. I then changed the location to the 7th floor of The Bay department store. I thought it would be much better and that attendance would pick up for two reasons. I thought the noise level would be less since the space was larger and also there was no food services there so that the members would not be obligated to make a purchase like they had to at the cafe.

I have had 4 meetups there and nothing has changed. I am feeling extremely discouraged and need to figure out what to do. I have until November when I make the next payment to decide if I should close and revamp the meetup or see what changes I could make.

Also there is another group in that area that I did not know about whose meetups are huge. I don't know if it's the price, place, or the other group or the competition. I don't mind if I get 10 or 15 people. It's the fact that so many people rsvp and no one shows up. This week I had 16 people coming and only 3 showed up. I decided to go ahead but after 5 minutes one fellow got up and left because of the low attendance and then 5 min later one woman decided to leave too. I did not charge them since the meetup was cut short.

I am really really discouraged. I have tried putting up polls but no one responds to them. I did email them later that evening and got a few responses. I just cannot figure out how it went from 30 people all the way down to 6 or 8 people.

Any thoughts? Thanks.
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Re: English language conversation group

Postby Elaine Glimme » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:58 am

Hi,

I'm wondering if you need some marketing gimmick to get your crowd. Like a raffle, a prize, a special event, a guest speaker. Personally, I'm very bad at marketing in general, and gimmicks in particular. But we live in a a time when wonderful things are all around us, and we expect to be entertained with something new all the time. Maybe a Barbara Sher type idea party. Your wish could be to draw more people to the group.

I hope you get your wish because your group sounds like a lot of fun.
Elaine Glimme - author - "Temporary Address" and "The Molly Chronicles"
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Re: English language conversation group

Postby Jason » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:55 am

I know on Meetup in the US you can charge your group members dues - setting the amount and period covered.

People may agree to them with the thought that they'll be attending regularly (like a gym membership), and knowing they've already paid may encourage them to do so.

If you can get enough due-paying members to cover your fees, the attendance issue may not be as pressing. So that time that three showed up and two left shortly thereafter - it wouldn't affect you - at least not financially.
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Re: English language conversation group

Postby BarbaraSher » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:15 pm

You have to send out reminders every week, and the last week you have to send them out every day. You should put some good success stories in them - even small steps that people didn't take before but did take due to the meetup group are worth describing - and praise-comments in them (which you get by asking people who enjoyed the meetings - or anything like the meetings - to say what they liked most. It's not such a bad idea to also find out what they liked least for your own information.)

And you have to invite friends for free to fill up the seats. Offer free coffee and donuts.

Or you have to have some interesting topic that you'll talk about for 15 minutes and some new resources that people might want but have to attend to get. Or a short speech and Q&A by someone they'd benefit by hearing, who could answer their questions.

Ask yourself why anyone would want to come, what they would hope to get and some other fun things that come with attending too.
Do you have new interesting subjects to talk about each time? "How to live well on very little money," "How to travel the world for free," "How to write a screenplay in English," "Speaking English to your kids," etc.

People always forget or it's just easier not to move that evening. If you get my newsletters and see my facebook pages you'll see how often we remind people of anything new coming up - Hanging Out or a book club etc. I have to do the same thing.

Of course, you can always help fill up any meeting by saying it's for singles. I haven't done it but I know people who ran expensive at-home singles dinners (limited to about 12 people and including a couple of witty and/or good-looking freebie friends) and did very well indeed.
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Re: English language conversation group

Postby BarbaraSher » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:22 pm

I also like Elaine's idea of having an Idea Party at each meeting. It's a great way to practice speaking English and it's always interesting. Tell everyone to bring a wish & an obstacle.

And if you put up posters in bookstores and laundromats saying "Practice your English and make your dreams come true! Idea Party on X night. Contact me..."

I talk about making impossible dreams come true with Idea Parties on my TEDx talk and the response has been amazing. Take a look and you'll see. (And you'll see lots of comments by people begging to know where they can find Idea Parties, too.)

Click here to look at it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2rG4Dg6xyI
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Re: English language conversation group

Postby BarbaraSher » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:28 pm

You said "Also there is another group in that area that I did not know about whose meetups are huge. I don't know if it's the price, place, or the other group or the competition. "

Join that group right away and find out what the draw is!!!
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