Top 10 Posts – 3rd Quarter 2012

Fall is here and I for one can’t wait for the changing leaves and cooler temperatures.   This means the 3rd quarter is behind us and it’s time to share our 10 most read posts over the past 3 months. Hopefully this will help you find a great post you might have missed…

  1. What’s A Hollow Square – As in any industry, hotels and conference centers sometimes have a language all their own. Here’s a little help in translating…
  2. Ridgecrest Recipe:  Rutland Chicken – Have you been looking for something new to do with chicken?  Enjoy and then let us know what you think!
  3. 5 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over – Everyone has gone home and you want to relax but here are a few things that still need to be done and will definitely help you in planning future meetings and/or retreats.
  4. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat –  If you don’t also spend time on strategically promoting your retreat, you may end up with a great retreat that no one attends. With that in mind, here are 8 ideas for helping to promote your upcoming church retreat.
  5. 3 Steps To More Productive Brainstorming – Brainstorming with your planning team is a great way to ensure you provide an event your attendees will find engaging and worthwhile.  Here are 3 steps to take that will go a long way to making your next session more productive.
  6. 3 Tips To Creating An Unforgettable Event – Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience.
  7. Creating A Standout Womens Retreat – A podcast interview with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade, 2 of LifeWay’s long-time women’s leaders sharing what they’ve learned about planning women’s events.
  8. 5 Tips For Programming Effective Youth Camps – Brian Mills serves as student pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church and is passionate about reaching young people for Christ. Here are his thoughts on how to program your youth camp for maximum spiritual impact.
  9. 7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit – Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time.
  10. Meeting Planner Survival Kit – Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies. Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.

Which post have you found most helpful?

 

For What It's Worth…Was It Worth It?

Your event is over and you’ve (mostly) recuperated from the physical and mental demands of planning and holding your event.  Was it worth it?

Here are three key factors to consider when answering this question:

  • Results: Was the event’s purpose (which is likely aligned with the organization’s purpose) achieved?  For a Christian event, were the spiritual purposes of the event accomplished?
  • Feedback from attendees:  Consider both anecdotal and more formal responses, like surveys, that you requested.
  • Financial Outcome: In this area, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line.

Whereas secular events don’t hesitate to include all of the above factors when assessing an event’s worth, sometimes Christians are hesitant to consider the financial outcome because it doesn’t seem as spiritually-focused as the others.

In our office, we always consider the financial outcome along with the first two factors once an event concludes.  We do this not only because we are part of a self-sustaining ministry that must fund itself through business principles, but also because the Biblical principle of stewardship encourages us to use our funds, time, and talents in a wise manner.  “It was worth it all if only one life was changed” has merit, but so does considering how we might have an even greater kingdom impact with the resources consumed by that event if we apply them differently in the future.

We don’t expect every event to be financially profitable every year, as potential for growth and future impact are always considered.  And, the profitability of an event does not automatically trump other considerations when determining an event’s worth, as there are numerous events we could plan that would be financially beneficial but not align with our purpose.  An event that falls within the intersection where attendees’ goals are met, our purposes are accomplished, and we exhibit wise stewardship has the potential to greatly impact lives both now and in the future.

Christian Meeting Planning Resources – August Update

Here is what we’ve added in August by category

Marketing/Promotion

Don’t ever blend in…especially when marketing and selling! http://www.ready2spark.com/2012/02/brand-differentiation.html

How to really, really build your brand http://www.ready2spark.com/2012/02/how-to-build-a-manifesto.html

Don’t make these social media mistakes! http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/tips/event-mistakes

5 more tips on how to plan and market your event (or party) http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/5-tips-for-small-business-event-planning.htm

Who doesn’t want their event to go viral? http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/concepts/10-elements-events-viral

Site Selection

A dozen fun retreat (and camping) ideas for the whole family http://bradzockoll.tripod.com/youthworker/id7.html

Retreats/Meetings

Awesome season based event ideas for any retreat, meeting, event, or the like! http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/5-fun-seasonal-event-ideas.htm

What are 4 different types of retreats? http://www.sugarhollowretreat.com/4-examples-spiritual-retreats

Budget/Cost Savings

How to save some retreat planning money in 8 simple steps http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/christian-retreat-planning-on-a-budget-1982758.html

Read these 49 tips to save money before planning your next meeting or conference http://meetingsnet.com/costsaving_budget/save-money-planning-meetings-0621/

How to hire and train conference and retreat volunteers. http://www.samhsa.gov/fbci/Volunteer_handbook.pdf

Meeting Planners

What planners can learn from the 2012 olympics http://www.busyevent.com/blog/?p=656

In depth and extremely helpful look on how to plan a retreat. http://bible.org/article/retreats-first-things-first

15 exceptionally useful websites to help plan an event. http://www.eventeducation.com/top-event-planning-tools.php

 

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

 

Top 10 Posts – 2nd Quarter 2012

I think it’s safe to say we’ve entered the dog days of summer and I’m already looking forward to fall. This means the 2nd quarter is behind us and it’s time to share our 10 most read posts over the past 3 months. Hopefully this will help you find a worthy post you might have missed in the past…

  1. 3 Steps To More Productive Brainstorming – Brainstorming with your planning team is a great way to ensure you provide an event your attendees will find engaging and worthwhile.  Here are 3 steps to take that will go a long way to making your next session more productive.
  2. What’s A Hollow Square – As in any industry, hotels and conference centers sometimes have a language all their own. Here’s a little help in translating…
  3. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat –  If you don’t also spend time on strategically promoting your retreat, you may end up with a great retreat that no one attends. With that in mind, here are 8 ideas for helping to promote your upcoming church retreat.
  4. Ridgecrest Recipe:  Rutland Chicken – Have you been looking for something new to do with chicken?  Enjoy and then let us know what you think!
  5. 5 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over – Everyone has gone home and you want to relax but here are a few things that still need to be done and will definitely help you in planning future meetings and/or retreats.
  6. Creating A Standout Womens Retreat – A podcast interview with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade, 2 of LifeWay’s long-time women’s leaders sharing what they’ve learned about planning women’s events.
  7. Meeting Planner Survival Kit – Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies. Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.
  8. 3 Tips To Creating An Unforgettable Event – Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience.
  9. 5 Tips For Programming Effective Youth Camps – Brian Mills serves as student pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church and is passionate about reaching young people for Christ. Here are his thoughts on how to program your youth camp for maximum spiritual impact.
  10. 7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit – Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time.

Which post have you found most helpful?

 

5 Ways to Save Money When Planning Your Next Conference

When planning an event, what do you consider the most important aspects? Having fun? Learning? Growing? Okay, all true, but what’s another significant part? How about saving money and staying within your budget?

Chances are if it’s not you, then someone else in your organization sees saving money and hitting your event budget as pretty important. Therefore it’s something you should probably spend some time focusing on. To help, here are 5 things you can do to save a little cash:

  1. Plan early. Actually, plan earlier than you think you should. Not only is it usually easier to get better deals when you plan early, it’s also easier to get what you want, when you want. If you leave it all to the last minute, you run the very real risk that everything might already be booked and/or more expensive. Think ahead.
  2. Be flexible. If your dates and times are flexible, it will be much easier to save money. The venue you’re booking might be cheaper during the week than on the weekends, or if you check-in on a Sunday night, or if you book for four days instead of three, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel or conference center for their best deals throughout the year and inquire about their least expensive times of year when booking. If you’re wanting to hold your event during high demand times be prepared to pay top dollar. Flexibility to take a lower demand date will definitely help you to save money.
  3. Do your research. It is usually easier to save money if you explore multiple options instead of just booking the first one you find. Submit RFP’s (requests for proposals) to multiple hotels/conference centers, entertainment companies, catering companies, etc and then compare to see who has what you want at the price you’re looking to spend.
  4. Use connections. If you have a friend in the DJ business, see if he or she can hook you up with a deal, instead of hiring a stranger. This concept goes for anything from caterers to party planning companies to audio/visual equipment vendors to, again, venues. Friends, friends of friends, and old business associates are much more likely to charge you a fair rate, or even give you a discount. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  5. Focus on the budget. Really look at your budget at all times. Once you create your event’s expense budget, try everything possible not to spend money on something you did not budget for. This will, to no surprise, help you stay within your (probably tight) budget.

What other money saving tips have you found to be helpful? Let us know by commenting below!

4 Fundamental Steps for Budgeting an Event

One of the most critical steps in planning an event is creating a budget. Whether your organization is paying for the event, or you’re looking to cover the costs by charging a registration fee, a detailed budget is a must for ensuring good stewardship. Plan and hold an event without a budget and I can pretty much guarantee you will end up spending way more money than you could have imagined. Not good!

While budgeting for an event might seem overwhelming at first,  following these 4 budget planning steps should help to keep your stress level to a minimum:

  1. Make a list of everything you need to hold the event – Budgeting an event is similar to packing for your vacation…inevitably you always forget something and end up paying more to replace it than if you would have packed it to begin with. The same is true with an event…it’s the things you forget that end up blowing your budget! Create a list outlining all the possible cost centers for your event and then add bullet points to each main category. (click here for a sample list of categories) Now that you have your list, it’s time to move on to #2…
  2. Determine costs for all the items on your list – After doing your research, determine how much money you need to spend on each aspect of the event. Also, be sure put some money in an “emergency/contigency” category to help cover anything you might have forgotten. This will make it a little easier to stay under or at budget.
  3. Determine your program/registration fee – Whether you are planning a break-even church retreat, or a profit-generating event, determining how much to charge for the event is very similar. Simply take the total amount of expenses from step #2 and divide by the number of people you realistically expect to attend the event. (Example, $10,000 in expenses divided by 100 expected attendees equals a $100/person program fee.) In my example, the $100/person program fee would allow the event to break-even (cover it’s costs)…if expenses remained at $10,000 or less and at least 100 people paid to attend.
  4. Under promise, over deliver – You’re probably more accustomed to seeing this phrase applied to customer service, but I believe it also applies to event budgeting…just in a little different way. Instead of under promising and over delivering, focus on under estimating your attendees and over estimating your expenses. If you do this and can still show a break-even budget, chances are pretty good your event will end up in the black and not the red!

Hopefully this was helpful to you? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Branding & Coloring Your Meeting

Below is information on a webinar being hosted this week by Collinson Publishing and Rejuvenate Meetings. We thought you might be interested in checking it out. After all…it’s free!

The events you plan send powerful emotional signals to attendees, second by second. An increased demand for attention to every detail, from strategy to design and execution, means deliberate choices must be made to gain attendee engagement, to tell a story, to capture the branding and to be colorful in personality.

Dianne Budion Devitt, adjunct professor at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, presents this webinar that will show you how your strategic branding decisions can have a powerful and positive impact on your participants’ experience, their retention of and willingness to act on key messages, and their long-term attitudes toward the organization. Devitt is the author of “What Color is Your Event? The Art of Bringing People Together” and president/owner of D3Dimensions, which provides strategic event consulting, keynotes and wellness programs.

Wednesday, May 16
2:00-3:00 p.m. EST
REGISTER NOW

4 Tips To Save On Your Next Event

Here are some great tips on saving money when planning you next meeting or event.

1.  Be flexible – If you have the ability to be flexible on your dates and better yet, days of the week you need to meet, facilities can work with you budget by working your event in between other events or scheduling you in the off-season.

2.  Know your meeting’s history – Not just how many guest’s have attended in the past but how much was the total you spent on rooms, meeting space, food and beverage, audio visual, etc.

3.  Communicate – Be as specific as possible with your needs.

4.  Build Relationships – The better your relationship is with your supplier, the easier it will be to explain your budget and meeting needs and, the easier it will be for your supplier to negotiate and work within your requirement.

What else has helped you save money while planning a meeting or event?

7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit

How many of you have purchased a car without driving it, or a house without looking at it? My guess is not very many answered yes to either question. I once bought a house without my wife actually seeing it until we moved in. Even though we had been married almost 25 years at the time, I was still pretty nervous until she said it was ok!

Making a major purchase without checking it out can be very risky. The same is true for booking a location for your retreat or conference without first visiting the venue. While time, distance and/or cost can sometimes prevent you from making a site visit, the possible negative impact of not making a site inspection can be far costlier.

Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time:

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate – Prior to your site visit don’t just talk about dates and rates. Take the time to make sure your contact understands your group and what your meeting goals and objectives are. Share details about previous meetings, what worked and what didn’t. Then, watch and see how they address your needs during the site visit.
  2. Make a list – Prior to you visit, make a list of everything you would like to see while on site and share it with your facility contact. This is a good way of maximizing everyone’s time.
  3. Deal with the hard stuff up front – Don’t wait until the end of the site visit to talk about things like set-up fees, attrition, Internet costs, parking, resort fees and any other “hidden” fees that will drive up the cost over and above the quoted room rates. It could be that sweet deal you’re getting on the sleeping rooms is not such a great deal after all.
  4. Make sure the space fits – If you have any doubts about the space being able to work for your event, don’t be afraid to ask to have a room set to your specifications. Seeing is believing!
  5. Pay attention to the details – How is the information flow leading up to your site visit? How are you handle during the site visit? How’s the follow up? All of these are critical questions and will give you some good insight into how you’re group will be treated during your event. If you find they are dropping the ball leading up to your event, chances are pretty good they’ll do the same when your group is actually there.
  6. Take pictures – Site visits typically fly by and you could end forgetting at least half of what you see, especially if you’re visiting more than one location. Don’t be afraid to stop and take pictures or video along the way. It’s the best way of remembering when it’s time to sit down and make your decision.
  7. Stealth visit – If yours is a large event, you may want to consider making an unannounced visit prior to your site visit. This can be a great way of experiencing the facility the way your attendees will.

What other site visit tips have worked for you? Care to share?

5 Helpful Articles For Meeting Planners

We realize how valuable time is for everyone. That’s why we’ve pulled together 5 articles we feel could be helpful. Hopefully at least one will resonate with you.

Why Do We Start Conferences With General Sessions? – General sessions should be designed for the audience, not the leaders or organization. This article lists 8 purposes for a general session.

Debrief Your Way To Success – As many planners know, a pre-conference meeting before an event is a must. But what about a post-con, not only with your venue but with your organization?

How To Use Your Meeting Space To Create An Ownership Experience – Meeting professionals can learn a lot about creating an ownership experience and designing learning spaces from Apple’s stores.

Technology Primer: QR Codes – Ever thought about using QR codes for your next event? Curious about just what are QR codes? Here’s a good intro article…

What is Pinterest and How Can You Use it for Marketing your Business (or event/retreat)? – Pinterest is the newest member of today’s most popular social media websites, but instead of using written content as substance, it uses images and video. It allows users to “pin” images and video to a virtual bulletin board they create. They can be photos they took and uploaded, images found on other websites, videos they find online or videos they have created themselves.