Regan Bercher Harlin serves as Chief of Staff of The Gathering Spot, a private membership club with locations in Atlanta, DC, and LA.
Regan joined The Gathering Spot in 2015 as the first employee serving as Membership Director and helping to open the first location in Atlanta. Now, Regan leads special projects related to the growth of the company.
Connect with Regan on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- About The Gathering Spot
- The learning lessons from this experience joining a start-up as the first employee
- Pivoting as acompany
- Top moments about The GatheringSpot that set it apart from other private clubs
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio brought to you by on pay built in Atlanta. OnPay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at onpay. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a fun one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories today on the Atlanta Business Radio. We have Regan Bercher with the gathering spot. Welcome, Regan.
Regan Bercher: [00:00:49] Hi Lee, how are you doing?
Lee Kantor: [00:00:50] I am doing great, I’m so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about the gathering spot. How are you serving, folks?
Regan Bercher: [00:00:56] Yeah. So the gathering spot is a private membership club. We were founded here in Atlanta in twenty sixteen. Since opening in Atlanta, we now have a Washington, D.C. location that opened last year and then a location in L.A. is under construction should be opening in the next couple of months. So we’re in Atlanta born company, but we’re growing.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:15] So what is the gathering spot? How are you serving, folks?
Regan Bercher: [00:01:19] Yeah. So we are a private membership club. So by nature, that is a physical space. But we also really pride ourselves on being about community. So the gathering spot members are innovators. They’re forward thinkers, they’re creatives, they are entrepreneurs coming from all different walks of life. Our space here in Atlanta has a restaurant and bar, a workspace, event space and members come together to gather over food events programs. We’ll do speaking engagements where they can listen and learn something new workshops where they can have professional development opportunities and then fun stuff to like. Listening to Gabrielle Union. Tell us about her book or a cocktail workshop where you can learn how to make a new drink, things like that as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:04] So is it a kind of a co-working space that also has a lot of curated content happening there? Or is it not a co-working space? And it’s a place where people just gather like almost like a country club for business people,
Regan Bercher: [00:02:22] Probably saying more like a city club would be the easier way to describe it to someone who hasn’t been there. So workspace is an amenity for us, but I would say we’re very different than if you were looking to join a traditional co-working space. When we talk to someone who’s looking for a private office at a co-working space, we tell them that’s great and they might want to look at that. In addition to joining the gathering spot, you would join the gathering spot for connectivity to meet new people, to be a part of the movers and shakers here in Atlanta. But as far as the physical space, yeah, something more similar to a city club. Or you could think of a country club without the golf and the pool, so more of a members only restaurant and bar and event space. You can rent out conference rooms, podcast studio, things like that.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:06] So it’s a place where people can go and hang out with like minded people like themselves.
Regan Bercher: [00:03:12] Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:13] And then they can they bring clients there as well? Or is it just members only?
Regan Bercher: [00:03:18] So the spaces members only and members guests, so a member could bring up to three people with them at any time and their guests will just need to stay with them throughout the club. So they is great for entertaining clients, business meetings, things like that.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:32] So now how did the gathering spot manage through the pandemic when a lot of folks couldn’t go to places like that?
Regan Bercher: [00:03:41] Yeah. So interesting time we were about to open our D.C. location halted that, which was good for the way DC handled the pandemic here in Atlanta. It was a test of a theory we’ve always had, which was what makes the gathering spot special is the community of members and it doesn’t need a space in order to have community. We always thought that to ourselves, but we never really had a test where we could experiment if that is actually true. So when we had to close our doors in March of twenty sixteen, a lot of other places were telling members that they were going to pause membership dues and reevaluate after what everyone thought was a couple of weeks. But we looked and we said, You know, we have a whole team here in Atlanta. We have employees who are going to suffer. We really can’t waive membership and just wait this out. So our members stuck with us and we really had actually a ninety nine percent retention rate during COVID as high as it’s ever been. Our members did not cancel their memberships. They stuck with the gatherings, even if that meant they couldn’t come to the club. We worked really hard to create online resources and digital content so that members could keep up with everything that we were doing. So, you know, members are watching virtual conversations and doing virtual meetups, and we were really quick about turning that around. And we also created a fund so all of the members who were still paying dues. We created a fund so that members in need. We’re able to apply for the fund and receive some allocation of money to help either their small business or their personal needs during that time. So we gave over. We gave six figures a way to members during that time, and a lot of members are really happy that their dues were going to a good spot during that time as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:27] So now we’re any of those changes that were kind of had to happen to survive during that time, anything that’s going to carry forward post-pandemic.
Regan Bercher: [00:05:37] You know, virtual events is the new norm, so we are lucky that we already had a great online portal for members where they could go watch all of our events. Now everything is a hybrid event, or sometimes we still do virtual only as we’ve expanded. I mean, when COVID hit, we only had Atlanta. Now we have actually communities and eight cities across the country. So now we have members all over the country. So having really built out a great virtual component to the membership and the digital resources has been really beneficial for the members that don’t have access to a club as easily as other members.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:12] So now how did you expand into those other markets virtually? Are you partnering with other folks or are you, you know, kind of hiring boots on the ground in those markets?
Regan Bercher: [00:06:22] Yeah. So earlier this year, we launched connected cities, which is communities and cities that do not have a physical space, but we are still gathering community there. So. So we have New York, Detroit, Charlotte, Houston and Chicago are connected cities. We have several hundred members in each of those cities now that are going to events. We do programing for them. We’ll do meetups for them in person. Something like a pottery class or a New Year’s happy hour, things like that. So you can still meet people in your city and still go to tgz programing. And then also we’ll have the digital resources for them and then access to the club when they travel.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:05] So now how important is it to just constantly be constantly be coming up with kind of compelling events? Is that a lot of what you’re you’re trying to do is kind of, OK, what creative thing can we do to get people excited about? And you know, that makes us special and unique?
Regan Bercher: [00:07:23] Absolutely. Yeah, we have a really, really great team who is constantly thinking of events and new ways that members can be excited to come to the club. So we’re always looking at it. I think we always try to stay really relevant to what’s happening in the city and culture kind of in the world. So always looking at on Twitter to what’s the hot topic on Twitter and then doing a pop up dinner conversation on that. If someone there’s a new TV show that everyone’s talking about, we’ll just will react quickly and we’ll do a dinner where you can come and talk to other people about that as well. So we find a lot of success in that, too.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:59] So like, how would a virtual dinner look like? If you’re a gathering spot member, how does that work?
Regan Bercher: [00:08:05] So probably those dinners we do, the more so in person. In Atlanta, for example, we have a private dining room. We would reserve members would just show up to the private dining room and have an intimate dinner with 10 people. We do virtual pop up conversations as well, something like something similar, but everyone would pop into a zoom and have the conversation. Sometimes they’ll be fun. We’ll encourage everyone to BYOB and have a drink with us. Those were a lot of fun, especially in the pandemic.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:33] And then somebody at the gathering spot is kind of the facilitator. Mm hmm.
Regan Bercher: [00:08:38] Yep.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:40] And is that something that really separates a gathering spot from other places is to have that kind of a curator facilitator that’s helping people connect and helping people kind of make new friends and make new, you know, business associations?
Regan Bercher: [00:08:54] Yeah. So connectivity is probably the biggest benefit of being a member. Members are able to reach out to our team at any time, say they are building a new website and they’re looking for someone to help them. We have a great Rolodex of members. At this point we have over five thousand across the country, so it’s really easy for us to connect them with another member. And so everyone’s really benefiting from that all the time. We also have some a mobile app where members can search a database and be in touch with members through there as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:25] So for you, what’s the most rewarding part of the job? Is it when the, you know, two members that maybe didn’t know each other connect and all of a sudden they got some hot startup they’re working on or something like that?
Regan Bercher: [00:09:38] Absolutely. Yeah, there’s a lot of stories like that. I joined the gathering spot. I was actually the first employee back in twenty fifteen. So six and a half years ago, I started working with the two co-founders to build this out. So I mean, it’s been extremely rewarding to see this from the very beginning when we were under construction and trying to open and really trying to explain what the gathering spot was going to be to people. It was a really foreign concept and we were trying to open in twenty sixteen. So the things that are rewarding, I could go on and on. I mean, the members who joined early on that are still with us. That’s so rewarding. We’ve now formed, I mean, I’ve known these people for six years now, their family and the members, like you said, the ones that this is such an integral part of their life where we’ve had a tgz marriage, we’ve had hopefully there’s a baby soon. We’ve had businesses formed out of the gathering spot. We’ve had some really cool conversations come out of the gathering spot. We actually. Most recently, Andre Dickins, our new mayor, he was a founding member of the gathering spot, so that’s really exciting for us as well. So seeing members grow from being a member and who they’re meeting within the club is really rewarding.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:51] So who is a good candidate to be a member? Like what type of person is a good fit to be a gathering spot member?
Regan Bercher: [00:10:59] Yeah. I mean, one of the biggest things about the gathering spot is we’re looking for people who are coming from all different walks of life, so it’s not one type of person. We have a really dynamic, diverse membership of people coming from everywhere. So that’s what we’re looking for. Our membership ranges from twenty six to our oldest member is 90 years old, Ambassador Andrew Young. So super wide range of members and we really our membership team actually works to keep a balance of members coming from different industries. If we’re noticing one industry is lagging, we’ll make intentional efforts to build that industry up or if we’re overpopulated one, then we’re not going to be looking at those applications as closely. But the biggest thing is it’s not just about what you do, it’s about who you are as a person. In our application process, we ask things like what animates you outside of your work and what does community mean to you? That’s what we’re looking for.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:48] So is it primarily business leaders or are there some junior folks there as well?
Regan Bercher: [00:11:54] Everyone, so we’ve got people from really every level we find that some of those business leaders, a lot of times they’re looking to meet some of the younger new industry folks so that they can have those creative ideas coming from them as well. So we try to keep that balance as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:11] So you mentioned the expansion with physical locations, virtual locations. What else is on the horizon for the gathering spot? Mm-hmm.
Regan Bercher: [00:12:19] Yeah, so we’re L.A. is going to be opening in the next couple of months, so we should be opening that soon. Our team is growing really quickly as well and we’re entering into our sixth year. So here in Atlanta, we’ve been open for six years. We’re going to continue to bring amazing programing, bring members together, and we’re actually looking at announcing a few more cities next year as well. So continuing to grow there as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:45] So what do you need more of? How can we help?
Regan Bercher: [00:12:48] Yeah, I would say anyone who’s interested in being a member of the gathering spot, you can apply on our website. The Gathering Spot Dot Club, we have all of our membership information listed there. And anyone who’s looking for connecting and growing in the city, that’s this is your place.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:07] And then if they’re in other cities, they should also check you out as well, because even if there’s not a in real life location, there could be a virtual one there.
Regan Bercher: [00:13:17] Absolutely, yes. And any of our eight connected cities?
Lee Kantor: [00:13:21] Well, congratulations on all the success. Thank you for sharing your story today.
Regan Bercher: [00:13:26] Yes. Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure, Leigh.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:30] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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