What Event Perks Do Your Guests Enjoy Most?

I’m curious to know what special items or services your guests rave over or request. Please leave a comment letting us know what gets you the most positive feedback. I’ll report on the results in an upcoming post.  Here are some options to choose from- and to feed the ever-hungry idea machine!

Site
Pool
Beach
Desirable downtown location
Hiking trails
Running paths
VIP Lounge
Luxury bedding in rooms
Free Snacks
All-inclusive meal plan
Theme Park

Tech
Free WiFi
Computer stations
Charging stations

Weather Accessories
Bottled water
Sunscreen
Ponchos
Water Mist Machine/Outdoor Fan

Networking/Training
Complementary books/material
One on one or small group time with celebrity
Free downloads
Video/audio recordings of sessions

Transportation
Site shuttles (airport or other)

App Highlight: Crowd Compass

CrowdCompass is an app that came to our attention a few weeks ago and we thought we’d show you some of its features. We’re not getting paid to talk about this app, we’re passing along a possible resource, hoping to make your next event better. So, here we go . . .

CrowdCompass is an event app tailored specifically for individual events. Your attendees will enjoy:

  • Interactive Maps: showing them exactly where they are, what is around them and how to get there.
  • Push Notifications: if a breakout session is moved at the last minute- you can let everyone know, right in their event app.
  • Individualized Schedules: Schedules set during registration show up with all the details on a user’s schedule within the app. Reminders can also show up to help an attendee keep appointments and remember things they don’t want to miss.
  • LinkedIn Integration: CrowdCompass uses your attendees LinkedIn profiles to fill out their photo and other profile information within the app. Now they don’t need to re-enter all of that in again!
  • Share Photos and Text To Event Feed: Users can post picture, comments, and questions on the event feed within the app.
  • Sponsor Showcase: Logos of your sponsors can be a part of the app. More exposure for them!
  • Metric City: 30 plus metrics allow you to see what your users are interested in and give you lots of information to help you improve the event in session, and in the future.

This seems like a great tool to use for larger, more complicated events. And with the interactive map feature, it would be a wonderful help to attendees if your event is scattered over a large area, or different parts of a city. Have you used an event app that was worth the time and investment? Please let us know!

Summer Series: H2Olympics

While you may have your adult guests occupied with seminars, classes and other sessions, what are you planning with their kids who may accompany them?  Summer conferences are a fun way for families to travel together, but there are times when there may need to be separate activities for the kids.hoseIf you’re looking for a summer afternoon idea for the kids at your conference, water activities are always a hit!  While this will require planning on your part, it’s sure to be an afternoon the kids will remember.  Before you plan this type of activity, make sure your host location has water resources available.  Questions to ask include, “Is there a water source near the assigned playing area?” and “Are there long hoses available to use?”

If you do have access to water, consider planning an H2Olympics, a series of water events where teams of kids compete against each other.  (And, if the whole family wants to get involved and not just the kids, consider pairing families together based on size to compete against each other!)

Here are some events you can incorporate:

  • Fill the Can:  Have a large kiddie pool filled with water.  Each team must transport water from the pool to fill their own buckets using only themselves.
  • Curling:  On a large slip ‘n slide, one member of each team gets pushed on their knees and then slides.  The team member that goes the greatest distance wins.  (Tip:  Cover the slip ‘n slide with baby oil or dish detergent for an extra slippery ride.)
  • Water Balloon Fight:  Each kid gets ten water balloons.  The driest team at the end of the balloon fight wins.
  • Water Balloon Shot Put:  One kid from each team participates to see how far he can throw a water balloon.  The team throwing the farthest distance wins.
  • Balloon Piece Pick-up:  Give each team a trash bag.  The team collecting the most water balloon trash wins.  (As a side note, this is a great way for everyone to help clean up from the water balloon fight without them knowing they are actually “cleaning”.)
  • Soap Shrink:  Give each team two bars of soap.  The first to shrink all bars in their water buckets wins.  (Tip:  Use travel-sized soaps for this activity.)

There are plenty of other water games you can include in your H2Olympics – be creative and utilize supplies and resources you know you will have on hand.  After the games are over the kids can have a free time playing on the slip ‘n slides or running through sprinklers.

If you do plan on having a water day for your guests, make sure to let them know about this before they arrive.  They will want to pack bathing suits, towels and sunscreen for the big event!

Tips On Scouting a Location

You’re taking a trip to look at a potential site for an event. Here are a few things to remember to help you make the most of your visit.

location

  1. Make a list of the all the group needs. Do this before you arrive. Prepare and bring as much information as you can on the specific group you are hosting. How many will be staying? What time of day will most of them arrive? Driving cars? Airport shuttles? What will they be bringing with them? Where will the find their first meal? What will they need in their room to get settled in? Be ready to be more focused on your group and exactly what they need, than the location itself.
  2. Start taking notes the minute you arrive. Imagine yourself in the shoes of your event attendees. Where will signs need to be placed? How is the service at the registration counter? Where are the nicest rooms located?
  3. Visit the spaces where main and breakout sessions will be held. Is the seating comfortable? Is the sound system high quality? What visual presentation capabilities does the space have. Go backstage. Is there a green room? Try to visit breakout session rooms when other things are going on outside. Is there audible noise bleed through? In other words, can you hear everything the person next door is saying?
  4. Try the onsite food offerings. Is there a variety? Vegetarian offerings? What meals are available? When do the restaurants stop serving? How is the service?

As you act as a scout for your next trip, all of these questions and experiences will blend together to help you make a decision. Set up a time before you arrive to meet with the head of Guest Services, or whomever manages groups and events at the location. Ask them pointed questions, and go over the list of needs you made before you arrived.

Making a trip to look over a potential location is definitely worth the effort. It is much easier to plan once you have visited a place in person, and it saves unpleasant surprises during the event. Find out as much as you can about your guests before you go, and remember that even the most amazing location may not serve the needs of a particular group.

What question(s) have you learned to ask during a site visit?

Planning An Event For Single Moms

According to “How Did Work-Life Balance in the US Get So Awful?” published in the Atlantic in June 2013:

  • One in four households in the US are headed by a single mom.
  • The average income in a single mother home is $23,000.
  • Almost 90% of single mothers report a severe time shortage.

I would propose that single moms have a deep need for the educational, social and spiritual aspects of a faith based event, but that it is often unattainable due to schedule or cost. How could you plan an event that would be accessible for them?Hispanic Mother & Two Boy Children Family on Beach
1.  Provide childcare and activities for children of all ages. Children do not stop needing care once they are in Kindergarten. A single mom might be very hard pressed to spend money on a babysitter, or call in a favor with a grandparent or friend. Offer a program for elementary and middle school children in addition to care for younger ages, the more appealing the better. Think indoor pool, as opposed to “homework room”.
2.  Limit the time commitment. An unending list of tasks lies ahead of single mothers every weekend. Laundry, food prep, errands, house cleaning, repairs, sports events, homework help… A four day or even two day event is more of a time commitment for these women than for those in a two parent home. Could you offer a schedule that spans a Friday evening and Saturday morning? Or perhaps a single day conference or retreat?
3.  Go high on the felt need scale. I would imagine that single mothers have quite a bit of felt need, and that to motivate them to make the sacrifices to attend any event, you’re going to need to speak to their felt needs. As with any target group, do your research on what they are looking for and struggle with and plan accordingly.

Ministry to single mothers offers great potential and a unique set of complications. Think through both of these carefully as you seek to serve this particular group.

Summer Series: Summer Catering Ideas

With the summer season upon us, it’s time to look at a few specific ideas for your upcoming, fun-in-the sun retreats.  Summer is a great time for camps and conferences designed with all ages in mind.

watermelon girl
Looking for a few summer-themed catering ideas for your next event?  Here are a few tried-and-true suggestions you can incorporate.

  1. S’mores:  Nothing says summertime like an evening sitting around a campfire.  However, having a campfire isn’t always ideal in your host location.  A new trend is creating a s’mores bar, something that can be used indoors or outdoors.  To create your bar, use a shallow wooden box or terracotta pots filled with rocks.  Place your flame source (burners or canned heat such as Sterno) in the rocks.  Using wooden skewers, guests can roast their marshmallows directly over these flames.  Think outside the box when creating your s’mores – flavored marshmallows, peanut butter cups or mints as your chocolate and various flavors of graham crackers.  The possibilities are endless!
  2. Watermelon:  When I think of summertime in the South, it’s not complete without watermelon.  Create an evening fellowship enjoying this summer staple.  You can incorporate other fruits, as well, by carving a watermelon as a bowl or basket and filling it with chunks of summertime fruits.  And, if your group is up for it, end the evening with an old-fashioned seed-spitting contest!
  3. Ice Cream Sundaes:  Most everyone loves ice cream!  Offer ice cream in a few different flavors and have guests create their own sundaes with all the toppings.  (If your group is smaller and you have access to ice cream freezers, consider homemade ice cream instead!)
  4. Sno-Cones/Shaved Ice:  Bring out the kid in all of your guests by indulging in summertime sno-cones and shaved ice.  Many party companies have machines available for rent.  Allow your guests to create their sno-cones with an assortment of flavored syrups.  You can buy these at most grocery stores during the summer months.

Summertime provides an opportunity for a lot of fun, outdoor catering events.  Often, they can be very nostalgic in nature, bringing back snacks you enjoyed as a kid on hot, summer nights!