There was a lot of interest in Village as a Venue following national coverage in the Globe and Mail and CBC regional radio coverage. I thought I would write a short blog on where I am at. I hope this blog provokes conversation, get some ideas circulating and invites people to get involved in the next steps for the idea ... I've put up a simple website at www.villageasavenue.com with more info too. More to come!
What's the idea?
The place we meet impacts the the quality and creativity of the conversations we have. If we want creative, innovative and interesting meetings then we need to be meeting in creative, innovative and interesting places. As someone who runs all kinds of events all over the world - too many times my heart has sunk when walking into a room with no windows and no character. We may have another option right where we live!
The village where I live has all the necessary facilities to be able to offer a boutique venue for conferences and conventions. I figure if Mahone Bay does then probably lots of other places do too. That seems to me like an opportunity to leverage assets we already have and bring some extra business and people into the village - good for everyone.
We've got a community centre with two big meeting spaces, break out rooms, a co-working space, a fitness centre, a soccer pitch all within 2 minutes walk of fantastic trails, an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, beautiful seafront with shops, kayaking, sailing and top notch restaurants (Mateus Bistro, who leads the catering for Village as a Venue, won restaurant of the year with Taste of Nova Scotia). Throw in the other venues we have available around the village like the legion hall (with bar and pool tables downstairs), church halls, the fire hall and the local pub and we have got it made for anyone looking for a great place to run a conference or convention! There is a range of accommodation to suit all kinds of budgets from B&Bs and hotels to hostels and camping.
How would it work?
We tried it out this year with a 2.5 day event for 75 people and it went great! Filled B&Bs, locally catered and the shops got business they otherwise would never have had. One fellow even decided to explore living here! Now we need to find out if we can have events come that don't depend on me and my networks.
It is not a silver bullet idea that is going save a rural community but it could definitely be part of a suite of actions that communities take to re-vitalize their rural economies.
What happens now?
Now I am trying to figure out if there is a viable business model behind this idea! It has to have some clear potential for me to put my time and energy into it.
Innovation is not having an idea, it is the implementation of an idea
It looks like we are going to get government funding to contribute to some market research which will lead to the development of a couple of business models. These will form the basis of a business proposal and act as part of the invitation to an event to Spring 2015.
How can you get involved?
What happens next will be influenced by the market research, the conversations I have and the insights that turn up. Whether this is one big collaborative effort, an invitation to people to help me set up a business that could benefit many or something in between is all up for grabs. What I know, is that I want to find out if this has legs or not. So ...
Please drop me an email ...
We are planning an 3 day event in spring of 2015 in Mahone Bay to bring together villages from all over the world who would like to explore the concept. My friend and colleague Chris Corrigan is helping me organise and lead the event. It would be super to see you there! Contact me for more info or to get involved in helping make it happen.
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