You wouldn't connect with friends by bringing them to a windowless room with nothing but a speaker phone, projector and a few rickety desk chairs, so why connect with business associates that way? Brainstorming new ideas, solving problems, getting to know new people and sharing your passion—these are the things that happen in meetings. When it comes time to decide “my office or yours,” the answer can be “neither.” Inspire yourself and the people you meet with by meeting somewhere unique and fun!
If you need to focus, there are plenty of places that can get your creative and analytical juices flowing without confining you to the routine of your own four walls.
Go outside, into nature or a specially designed urban oasis.
Picnic tables or benches with a view at the park or the beach can set a relaxing tone that pushes out distracting thoughts and lets you focus on the business at hand.
A cafe with a nice patio (and heaters if it's cold) takes the common professional lunch or coffee meeting and makes it feel less restrictive. I love the patio at Jin Patisserie in Venice, with its fountain and green environment … not to mention amazing sweets and teas.
Botanical gardens or sculpture gardens are a good place to walk and talk—the movement and serene scenery can counteract any nervous energy or creative block.
Go somewhere with interesting décor but all the comforts of home (and office).
Boutique hotels have great design and artwork that can spark ideas. I had a crazy-productive brainstorming session at the Ace Palm Springs, and its quirky details and beautiful site had a lot to do with the brainpower at that meeting. Poolside chats are an option that can shake up your perspective.
Meeting space that isn't designed to feel like meeting space gives you the best of both worlds—a quiet indoor place that lets you plug in your tech but also gives you stunning visuals to stimulate your mind. Meet at The Apartment is a beautiful spot in Soho designed to satisfy your traditional business meeting needs as well as your desire for something different and pretty.
If you're doing a spontaneous meet-up during a conference or a quick exchange of information while on the go, you want your meeting place to reflect that, too.
Go to a hotel bar … but not just any hotel bar.
Hotel bars can be business hubs, so if you want to be in the middle of the action, that's the place to meet. The elegant yet dramatic Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco has that professional meets nightlife feel that is perfect for that business chat with that person you serendipitously encountered in the middle of a hectic conference. If you're staying at the hotel, it might be worth it to get a suite and hold your meeting in the “living room” if appropriate.
Go to an airport lounge.
If everyone is running around, an airport lounge can be a tranquil yet convenient meeting place. Lounges like Virgin America's Clubhouse at Heathrow, San Francisco or New York have the amenities and feel of an upscale bar or hotel … but minutes away from those flights you both might need to catch.