I took over organization of a Conversation Practice meetup about 6 months ago.
The group has no specific language focus, but being in Amsterdam, it's common to have people learning English, Dutch, and a number of other European languages (Spanish and German are the most common, with occasionally French, Portuguese, and occasionally others; Japanese, Icelandic, etc).
When I joined (before taking over the organizational aspects), regular attendance was 8-12 people. A typical 2-hour meeting would consist of (very informal) introductions, then we'd split the group into common languages. Typically there would be two or three groups of 2-5 speakers each. A German group, a Spanish group, and a Dutch group, for instance.
Due to the lack of "official" languages, each week would have a different composition of speakers and groups.
Since the beginning of the year, participation has dropped drastically. Now we average 2-5 in attendance each week, and rarely enough to split into a second group. Most newcomers don't return. Many repeat attendees return only every few weeks.
I'm looking for suggestions on how to attract and retain attendees to such a group. What has worked for others? Do we need more structure (perhaps by limiting ourselves to a few select languages)?
I realize there can be many specific factors hurting us that aren't related to the content of our meetings, etc (publicity, location, schedule, etc). I'm not asking about these aspects. I'm assuming that if someone came once, then these things are not the reason they don't attend again. So I'm interested in reducing the number of people who come once, and never or rarely again.
What has worked for you as a group organizer? As a group attendee, what aspects enticed you to return? Which aspects pushed you away?