Running a regular meetup is something anyone can do, and it takes relatively little effort to get started.
Why run/attend a regular meetup?
When you’re on the road, it can sometimes be difficult to make local friends. If you run or attend a meetup, it’s an excellent chance to mix locals and travelers, as well as attract users to the platform. There are benefits for everyone involved…
Hosts: You can find last-minute guests at a meetup, or you can bring your guests to a meetup to meet other travelers and they can make plans together. Meeting other hosts, you can swap stories or generate new ideas for how to host in your area
Travelers: You can find a host at a meetup, find other travelers to make plans with, or get tips and advice from locals attending the meetup
Locals: If you can travel or host, you can still get a chance to meet travelers or swap travel stories, itineraries, and plans
New people: No better way to get an idea of what hosting/staying with hosts would be like than meeting the people who do it! If someone’s not sure about hosting, they can get a feel for what their guests would be like… and if someone’s not sure about traveling and staying with hosts, they can see what the hosts might be like, too
Choosing the right venue
Think about what would make your attendees comfortable. A good venue has affordable (if not dirt cheap!) food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and a low noise level so that a smaller group can chat and get to know each other. Definitely make sure there’s no cover charge, and even better if it’s okay if some people just order water - a lot of travelers have no extra money to spend at all. For a beginning meetup, why not choose a place that is not very crowded or a time where business tends to be slow. Make sure you check with the owners/management beforehand by talking to them about what your meetup will be like and discussing together the best time to have it.
Being flexible about attendance
It’s totally normal and expected for you to be the only attendee for the first few weeks. Bring a friend or two to get things started, if need be. The important thing is that you’re there at the same time and place every week/two weeks/month, so that anyone from the community/traveling through knows when and where to find you. Some people may come and stay an hour or so, others may not show up until your meetup is technically over. Don’t worry about it! Bring something to do alone, or a game to play if you’re not sure what to talk about with just one or two other people. If you do your meetup regularly enough, you will see the numbers grow, and you’ll be planning less and less as other members step in to help. After you get a good group of locals and travelers coming every week, you can even try to negotiate some discounts with the management.
Recruiting local people
Once you get more local people to come to your regular meetup, try to convince them to take on a more active role. Maybe sometimes you’ll be late or miss a meetup, and that person can step in. Don’t exclude anyone from coming to your meetup! You never know when a local person who hasn’t heard of what you’re doing could be interested and become a member themselves. It doesn’t hurt to send messages out to others in your community to just get the meetup going at first, or to try and rope people in who might otherwise not be interested in coming. Hearing from someone who is actually attending/doing the meeting might be the push they need to join in.
Try some activities
I ran a meeting in Hiroshima every Wednesday for nine months. Our group never got bigger than 15-20 people, so we were able to do special activities for a smaller group, like gift swaps and pub crawls. One thing we did week in and week out was make nametags. Sounds cheesy, but it was a fun icebreaker that showcased everyone’s artistic skills. And at the end of the meeting, everyone took their nametags off and stuck them in the meetup log book, so we could always go back and see who had been at which meetup. I highly recommend doing something like this for a smaller, new meetup!
I hope these tips help you start a meetup in your area. If you have any other ideas, please add them to this thread!