On Wednesday evening the folks from MeetupHQ were in San Antonio. As far as I’m aware this is the first time Meetup has ever been to the Alamo City. They did come to share some of the recent site changes but mostly they came to listen. They wanted to know what we as organizers of groups needed. How could they help us do what we do better? Did we have a wish list of things we would like on the site? They were very sincere and honest about what was in the works, what they could and couldn’t do. They took notes, responded and offered their own experiences as Meetup Organizers.
There are 200+ meetup groups in San Antonio. Out of all of the Organizers that are running these groups only 9 folks showed up to spend time learning and sharing with Meetup HQ. I was glad to be able to represent San Antonio and be part of the Think Tank. We offered ideas, suggestion and a wish list which MeetupHQ will take back to their headquarters.
It was great to have the opportunity to exchange tips with my fellow Organizers. There was plenty of conversation regarding venues, RSVP’s, group participation, keeping a group active, even the pay or no-pay option organizers use to help fund their groups.
The biggest bomb shell that came out of this was that for the single monthly payment each organizer uses to fund a group you can actually run three groups. When I heard this I was stunned! I asked how long that had been in effect and their response was, “Oh, it’s always been that way.” I asked the other Organizers if they were aware of this 3 for the price of 1 feature and the resounding answer was, “No”. As a matter of fact there was one gentleman who was organizing 3 groups who was paying for all three groups. His annual payments for all three groups was $432. However he could have been doing the exact same thing for only $144! I’ll admit to having been upset when hearing about this apparent long time feature that no one knew about. When I pressed them for a reason this their response was, “We have found that when a person runs more than one group the failure rate for their groups increases.” My response was, “Well if I’m paying my $20* a month and want to create three groups and they all fail, I’m paying for the right to do it.” Now granted, I certainly don’t encourage folks to create a bunch of groups and then allow them to languish, but you get my point.
*Disclaimer: The actual amount you pay on the site is dependent on how you prefer to be billed. $19 for one month, $45 for three months or $72 for six months. Obviously the more months you pay for in advance the less expensive the per month cost. They had a $120 per year price, which was great, but they’ve done away with it since it was their least used plan.
The thing that restored my faith and good humor happened at then end of the evening. Meetup HQ gave the Organizers of San Antonio a check for $500! They called it Seed Money. It is meant for us to use in any manner we see fit to promote our Meetup Groups in San Antonio. Talk about a “WOW!” moment. We decided to create a “San Antonio Organizers Meetup” and use the money to promote Meetup with a monthly business card size ad in the San Antonio Current. The goal is to reach the hobbyist or enthusiast who may not be internet savvy but would enjoy connecting with like-minded folks. In other words it is a way to bring new blood to the San Antonio Meetup Family.
I can say it quite the informative event. As someone who has been organizing a group since 2005, I had a few hard hitting questions and plenty of suggestions. They took what I gave them and were sincere in their responses. I respect that. It was apparent they enjoy and love what they do.
While I have been utilizing the Meetup.com services for a while I haven’t followed the company inner workings. If the four people I met this past week are an indicator of the corporate culture of Meetup, I can say they’ve got passionate employees who not only care about the company but are it’s biggest fans.
Thank you MeetupHQ for being willing to come down to the grass roots level to really find out about the local Meetups.