From team retreats to corporate meetings, and from business presentations to workshops and seminars, networking luncheons, and more, companies often need to find space to gather together to accomplish goals. Sometimes, though, the company doesn’t have the appropriate meeting space in their own buildings.
Other times, a more central location is desired for people coming from multiple branches of the business—and, still other times, management wants a fresh environment for the planned events in a venue where the team won’t get interrupted by daily business tasks.
Some companies are looking for a venue to hold an annual event, such as a conference or convention. Other times, they want to get together monthly to continue to focus on business growth strategies. In each of those cases, it can make sense for organizers to find a meeting room for rent.
To help, here are ten things to consider when selecting your meeting venue. And, if you’re ready to rent a room for your meeting now, please contact us at 904-276-6815, extension 2, to discuss what would work best for your needs.
#1: Location, Location, Location
When choosing a meeting venue, it’s important to pick one that’s conveniently located for attendees. When everyone is from the same local area, that may be an easy decision to make; you’ll pick a quality venue in town. When people are coming from different cities, though, you’ll want to consider what major highways are nearby; when they’re coming from different states, then airports can also come into play.
Thrasher-Horne Center is on the campus of St. Johns River State College in Orange Park. This means we’re conveniently located and easily accessible from highways, just 35 minutes from downtown Jacksonville and 58 minutes from St. Augustine. Plus, our meeting venue is an easy drive from the Jacksonville International Airport, with brand-name hotels and an upscale resort nearby for people who plan to stay overnight.
Besides looking at the location of the meeting venue itself, be sure to also confirm where the parking lots are located and that enough spaces will be available for your event. Are the parking lots nearby or would attendees need to walk a ways or be transported from their cars to the venue? As a related issue, find out what security can be available in the parking areas.
The parking lots at Thrasher-Horne are large and conveniently located by the building with curbside drop-off availability.
#2 Space Requirements and Setup Options
When looking for a meeting room to rent, you’ll want one that’s the right size for your needs. Too small and you’ll be cramped or, worse, not have enough space for all attendees; too large and you may be paying for more than what you require. Plus, it can send the wrong message when a room is half empty (or more). So, calculate the number of tables, chairs, and other equipment that you’ll need, and then talk to the venue to see what they have to offer.
It can help when a place has the ability to customize the setup of your meeting space. At Thrasher-Horne, we have more than 6,260 square feet of space in five rooms. Four of these multipurpose rooms have movable wall partitions that allow us to expand a room to just the size desired by a company. This also gives you the ability to hold part of your event in our large room where everyone can attend at the same time, with multiple breakout events being held in smaller spaces.
Here, you can see meeting room layouts, and here is a conference room brochure that provides more detailed information about the room sizes, capacity numbers, and more. Plus, our dedicated staff would also be more than happy to share layout designs that have worked well for other rental occasions and recommend setup customizations for you.
#3 Availability Considerations
When you find a venue of interest, check to see if space is available on the date and times of your event. If the answer is “yes,” then it can make sense to secure that meeting venue before someone else does. Venues that can customize spaces may be more likely to come up with an innovative solution to make your choice of date work.
Whenever possible, have an alternate date or two in mind for your company event. That way, if you find a location that’s ideal, you’ll have a better chance of renting your preferred venue. Overall, it can be easier to rent a room during the week than on the weekend. When planning an event that is scheduled close to a major holiday or during the peak of the wedding season, it makes sense to book earlier than you otherwise might.
Also, check the times of day that a venue is available. Thrasher-Horne can be rented from
7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., seven days a week.
#4 Rental Costs
You’ll want a venue that fits your budget. When calculating costs, ask about the room rental fees, as well as what’s included in the fee and what’s considered an add-on cost. Find out what kind of deposit is required and what fees are considered to be non-refundable.
Our rental fees at Thrasher-Horne are surprisingly affordable, and they include furniture setup and breakdown, and your choice of table sizes and shapes, plus cushioned chairs for your attendees’ comfort. Plus, there is plenty of free parking and free WiFi included.
#5 Food and Drink Options
Depending upon the specifics of your corporate get-together, you may want to provide a full meal or you might want snacks available to attendees. You may want to serve alcohol or you may not. If your event is large enough, you could be thinking about bringing in multiple food vendors.
Some venues will have caterers that they’ll want you to use while others are more flexible and will allow you to bring in your favorites. What’s important is to be clear about what you want and to confirm with the venue that these options are available.
At Thrasher-Horne, we’ll share recommendations for trusted caterers or you can use your own. Caterers that we’ll recommend provide a wide range of services. They can offer snacks or light hor’s d’ oeuvres if that’s your preference, or they can provide themed dinners or award-winning barbecues. If you want to serve alcohol, just let us know, and we’ll share the steps to make that happen.
It’s also important to talk to the venue representative about the flow involved in serving food. Will it take place in the same area as your meeting? How will the venue team transition from one purpose to the other? At Thrasher-Horne, some companies use our grand room for meals with a smaller room or two for the actual meetings.
Find out, too, what COVID protocols are for serving food (as well as any other COVID-related policies and procedures the venue is using to protect you). Here are our current COVID policies.
#6 Amenities Available
Find out what amenities are available at a venue, which will likely include confirming that you’ll have WiFi access during your company event. If needed items—such as podiums and microphones or the desired mealtime table linens—aren’t available at the venue, options include looking for another center that has the amenities you need or renting what you need and having them transported to your meeting venue.
Items that we have available for rent (which means you don’t have to worry about them not arriving on time and you’re not responsible for returning them to another location) include:
- Audio-visual equipment, including a projector and screen
- Large podium with an attached microphone
- Small podium with a cordless microphone
- Small podium or microphone separately
- Stage platform risers
WiFi access is free. There is curbside drop-off at the door and handicap accessibility throughout the building.
This is just a partial list of amenities so, if you have specific rental item needs, please ask!
#7 Security Provided
This one is short and simple. Ask about what security is available and make sure that it is sufficient for your needs. You’ll want everyone to feel secure and be safe during your events.
#8 Consider the Ambiance
If you’re initially exploring venues online, try to discern the atmosphere from images on their website and in text that describes their venue and services. Perhaps you’re looking for a place where you can hold an important meeting, so you want the space to be polished and professional. Or maybe you’re looking for a place where your team can brainstorm, so creative touches are appealing.
Choosing a meeting venue with the ambiance and overall environment you want can make a big difference in how comfortable your attendees will be during your event. Venues can, of course, do numerous things to help create the tone and feel you want, so don’t automatically discount a place before you talk to them about how they can customize the space for you.
Be sure to tour venues that are of interest. Photos and text are great to create a list of possible locations, but nothing beats an actual visit. Check to see how the lighting can be adjusted while you’re there and ask if they have a professional sound system. Also, find out how room temperatures are controlled for comfort. Are there individual room controls?
A big plus of Thrasher-Horne is how we’re set up to provide a professional corporate atmosphere—while, at the same time, our art galleries are ideal for groups that can benefit from being surrounded by creativity.
#9 Customer Service Matters
Pay attention to how you’re treated when you contact a venue, including how your questions are answered. At Thrasher-Horne, we strive for excellence in everything we do, including in the way we treat everyone who comes to our center. In short, we provide five-star service. Plus, if you need help with planning, our experienced event coordinator can help you.
#10 What Else Matters to You
The first nine items are ones that everyone who is looking for a meeting room to rent will likely want to consider. You may, though, also have unique requirements that aren’t included in this post. Perhaps you plan to offer musical entertainment during mealtime or you want to decorate the facility with images of corporate successes.
After reading through this list, if you’re still wondering about an aspect of the venue, ask!
Conferences and Conventions
Perhaps your company is planning a big event, such as a conference for professionals in your industry. Planning these types of events often begins a year or more before the convention itself. To help, we’ve created a conference planning checklist as well as a comprehensive planning guide. Plus, our events coordinator is experienced in helping companies plan conferences or to work with an event planner you’ve already hired.
The benefits of using an event planner can be significant, especially if what started out to be a relatively small meeting is turning into something more ambitious. They can help you to source vendors, prioritize your budget, negotiate deals, and more so that you can focus on your business conference to benefit from the networking and educational events.
Meeting Rooms to Rent for Non-Profit Organizations
The Thrasher-Horne Center is ideal for fundraising events. The main gala can take place in our grand room, while other rooms can be used for other purposes, such as a fundraising silent auction. Be sure to ask about our discount for non-profit agencies.
Choose Thrasher-Horne Center for Your Meetings
It’s our mission to be the premier gathering place in Northeast Florida, serving as the intersection of arts and commerce, and the hub of community, education, and culture. Our centrally located, easily accessible venue has the flexibility that companies need to hold a wide range of meetings, networking events, seminars and workshops, and much more.
To schedule a tour or to book a meeting room to rent, please contact us at 904-276-6815, extension 2.