10 Most Read Posts – 1st Quarter 2012

Hard to believe, but the first 3 months of 2012 are in the books! Time really does fly when you’re having fun and it’s been a busy, fun last 3 months here at MinistryServingMinistry. Traffic on the site is up. Hopefully this means you are finding articles helpful to you in your work or personal life.

We know many of you are relatively new to our blog. With that in mind, here is a list of 10 most read posts this past quarter:

4 Ways We Promise To Show A Little Love – At Ridgecrest we recognize how challenging and stressful it can be for the person planning their group’s meeting or retreat. Therefore we want to do everything we can to make planning an event with us a great, positive experience. To help make this happen, here are 4 ways we promise to show our event planners a little love.

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 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.

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 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over –  As many veteran planners can attest, the end of the meeting means you still have some work to do. Work that will definitely help you in planning future meetings and/or retreats.

Ridgecrest Recipies – Rutland Chicken – Enjoy and then let us know what you think!

Creating A Standout Women’s 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.

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.

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.

5 Tips For Relieving Meeting Planner Stress – Since stress is inevitable when you’re the planner, the key to handling it is to take a positive approach. Here are 5 tips that can help you deal with the stress associated with planning and running your event.

As always, thanks for checking out our blog!

 

 

Social Media, Boring Conversations & Meeting Attendee ROI

Came across some good articles this past week. Please let me know which one was your favorite.

Social Media Made Fun & Easy: Engaging Across Generation Gaps – In case you missed the free webinar, here’s the link to the presentation. Definitely some useful information here.

Polite & Rude Ways To End A Conversation – Ever been stuck in a conversation you wish you could get out of? Here’s a list of both gracious and impolite ways for you to end a conversation.

Meeting and Event Planner App-Check In Easy – An interview with the designer of the new app, Check In Easy, discussing how the app can help meeting and event planners.

Association Meetings Should Be About Member ROI – Excellent reminder, everyone’s time is valuable and meeting dollars are limited, so make sure your meeting agenda reflects the needs of those attending.

 

Should You Be Using Pinterest To Promote Your Event?

If you’re like me, you have probably been reading and hearing a lot about Pinterest lately. Over the past 6 months it has been the fastest growing social media site…EVER! Given these stats, I felt like I had to check it out.

So, what is Pinterest? The short version is it’s a visually appealing platform, easy to use and offers life-style oriented content. Technically you have to be invited to join, but it’s not a big deal. Chances are pretty good that some of your Facebook or Twitter friends are already members and they can shoot you an email invite. Once you receive your invite you can log in and be creating your own pin boards in no time.

To help you decide if this is something you should doing with your events, here are 3 links we think you may find helpful:

How To Effectively Use Pinterest For Events – A picture paints a thousand words and events can tell an engaging story on Pinterest. Here are 5 tips to help you get started…

Pinterest For Conference, Wedding & Event Planners – Contains a list of 12 ways for event planners to use Pinterest. Interestingly enough, the first 2 deal with using Pinterest to brainstorm ideas for new events and conference topics.

Conference & Event Showcasing Via Online Pinboards – This link is to an open discussion group on LinkedIn dedicated to sharing how to use Pinterest to promote conferences and events.

Should you be using Pinterest to help promote your event? If you’re desire to create engagement with your audience in a visually compelling way, the short answer is YES. Pinterest can be a great way to build a community around your event.

The more I look into it, the more I’m convinced we will be promoting our events at Ridgecrest on Pinterest. What about you?

 

Enjoy A Little Local Flavoring!

When attending conferences, one of the things I always enjoy is getting out and sampling some of the area restaurants. I’m thinking Fred’s Mexican Cafe in Old Town San Diego, Guadelupe Cafe in Santa Fe, numerous places on the Riverwalk in San Antonio to name just a few. Chain restaurants don’t count. You can do that back home. I’m talking places the locals love to go!

With this mind, I thought it would be interesting to ask our Ridgecrest sales team where they enjoy going to eat in and around Asheville. Here’s what they came back with:

  • Tupelo Honey Cafe – How can you go wrong when their website tagline says, “New South Flavors. Scratch-made Fun.”? Must admit I have never tried this place, but definitely have it on my list for later this spring.
  • Corner Kitchen – Housed in an historic Victorian house located in Biltmore Village, this is a favorite with locals and out of town guests.
  • Moose Cafe – Located on the grounds of the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market and featured in Southern Living for their homemade “cathead” biscuits and applebutter. Need I say more?
  • My Father’s Pizza – A Black Mountain tradition that is well known to Ridgecrest guests. My favorite is the white garlic, roasted chicken pizza!
  • Red Rocker Inn – Another Black Mountain favorite. This historic B&B offers a great dining experience and you will definitely want to save room for their killer desserts!

What about you? What are some of the local restaurants you’ve enjoyed when attending a conference?

8 Great Technology Tools For Event Planners

As we’ve shared in previous posts, being a meeting/event planner can be a tough, challenging job. Fortunately technology is beginning to offer some tools that can go a long way in reducing stress on a meeting planner. Here are 8 we thought you might find helpful…or at least fun. Enjoy!

  • Eventbrite – An online registration system that can create custom event pages, has social media tools to promote events and tracks attendance.
  • Zite – Keep track of varied interests in one place with this custom magazine app that learn’s your interests and curates articles and news according to what you read. (Free – iPhone, iPad)
  • Slideshare – Online presentation network where speakers can share their slideshows with attendees. Planners can also tap into the site to search for potential speakers.
  • Square – A great way to take on-site payments. The tiny device attaches to any smartphone or iPad, accepts all major credit cards and charges merchants a 2.75% rate.
  • Pinterest – A social networking site that is an online pinboard where users share things they love on the Internet. Perfect for the visually stimulating world of events.
  • Storify – Turn your conference or event into a story. By embedding tweets, Facebook posts, video and images into a single stream on the site, the conversation surrounding a session or the entire conference becomes a multi-media story. Once the story is published, users can send it out via social media to spread the word.
  • Cardmunch – This app from LinkedIn converts a photo of a business card into a digital contact and finds the new contact on LinkedIn. (iPhone)
  • HeyTell – Stay connected to the other members of your planning team with this walkie-talkie app. No need for hand-held radios or wasting time typing out a text. (iPhone, Android)

Any other tech tools you’re currently using that our readers may also find helpful? Please share in the comments!

4 Ways We Promise To Show A Little Love

Earlier this year, CareerCast.com came out with their list of the most stressful jobs for 2012 (read here). Not surprisingly, soldier, fireman and police officer were all in the top 5.  What I definitely did not expect to see was event coordinator/planner at #6. After reading the article we responded by posting 5 stress relieving tips for meeting planners (read here), along with how to put together a meeting planner survival kit (read here). Hopefully you found at least one of these posts helpful!

At Ridgecrest we recognize how challenging and stressful it can be for the person planning their group’s meeting or retreat. Therefore we want to do everything we can to make planning an event with us a great, positive experience. To help make this happen, here are 4 ways we promise to show our event planners a little love:

  • Take the time to really listen – We know you’re busy and trying to juggle a boat load of details and a myriad of distractions. Whenever we talk, you will have our undivided attention as we discuss your meeting needs.
  • Be a problem solver- Let us know what problems you had with your last event and we’ll work closely with you to solve them. We want to help make you the hero!
  • We’ll offer suggestions/alternatives – We handle hundreds of meetings every year. This gives us the opportunity to see a lot of great and not so great event ideas. We’ll be sure to share ideas we think could positively impact your event and our feelings won’t be hurt if you choose not to take us up on a suggestion.
  • We’ll always say “thank you” – Your ministry is important to us and we’ll never take your business for granted!

As a meeting planner, how else can we show you a little love?

Free Marketing, Facebook Changes & 5 Presentation Sins

Hopefully something in that title caught your interest! We’re constantly on the look out for fresh content we believe can be of help to our readers. Below are 3 articles I came across this week I felt could be helpful.

5 Presentation Sins Committed By Conference Speakers – As the meeting planner, are you responsible for booking speakers for your event? If so, be sure to check this article out. As a speaker, I found it to be helpful as well. Always good to know what not to do!

7 New Facebook Changes Impacting Organizations – Does your ministry/organization have a Facebook fan page? If so, are you aware of the major changes Facebook is implementing this month? This is a good article detailing how you can take advantage of these changes. If you’re not on Facebook with a fan page I would strongly suggest reading the article and then launching one.

9 Ways A Venue Can Help You Promote Your Event For Free – Chances are the marketing budget for your upcoming event or retreat is somewhere between slim and none. Don’t worry, there’s still hope! Here are some good suggestions on how you might be able partner with the facility hosting your retreat.

Any particular issues you’re currently dealing with in planning an upcoming event or retreat? If so, please let us know and we’ll do our best to help.

 

5 Keys To A Great Staff Retreat

How many of you have come home from a staff retreat thinking it was pretty much a waste of time? I know I have, even a time or two when it was my staff retreat!

Staff retreats can be a strategic part of building a highly productive team. However, the difference between a mediocre staff retreat and a great one is having a good game plan. To help with planning your next staff retreat, here are 5 keys you want to make sure  are part of your plan:

  • Pray – You would think we would never forget to make this a key part of a staff retreat, but that’s not always the case. Don’t take this one for granted. Spend time in prayer both before and during your retreat.
  • Evaluate – A key to any strategic plan is an honest evaluation of your current situation. Take the time to evaluate as a staff and make notes of what you’re doing well and what you want to improve.
  • Plan – Staff retreats are a great time to dream and plan your future direction. Be sure your plan has well defined action steps and responsibilities so everyone knows what’s expected when you get back to the office.
  • Learn – A well balanced team has a wealth of knowledge. Don’t forget to tap into that knowledge and learn from each other.
  • Laugh – Nothing like laughter to draw a staff closer together. Relax, laugh and enjoy the time together.

If you’re going to invest time and money into having a staff retreat, doesn’t it make sense to  do everything possible to make it a great one?

How Do You Handle It When You Mess Up?

Let’s face it, we all mess up and drop the ball sometimes. No individual or business is perfect. At Ridgecrest, our staff works very hard to provide an environment conducive to life change, but we still make mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen so here’s the real question. How do you handle things when you mess up?

I recently had lunch with my family at one of our favorite places, Sam’s Sports Grill at The Streets of Indian Lake. Their hamburgers are awesome and I always look forward to having one.

Unfortunately, on this day, the burger was not so good. Without going into the whole story, suffice it to say there was a problem. The kitchen tried to fix it and only made it worse. Finally I politely told our server it simply wasn’t a good experience.

From there she turned it over to her manager (good training) and he did a great job handling the situation. In fact, here are 3 things he did right that anyone should do when they mess up.

  1. Own the problem – Being an old food guy, I knew they were having problems in the kitchen and appeared to be short-staffed. When the manager came over to apologize, he shared that it was his fault they were short-staffed. I have no idea if he was the one who actually made out the work schedule for that day, but he took full responsibility for not having enough help in the kitchen.
  2. Take action to fix the problem – After apologizing, he offered to bring me a fresh burger or anything else I wanted. He also let me know he was going to take the burger off my bill. I felt that was fair, so I was satisfied with the outcome at that point.
  3. Help me to forget about the problem – A couple of minutes later he came back by our table to let me know he appreciated our business and the way I had handled my complaint. He then hit me with his WOW factor, a $10 gift card to use on our next visit. Totally unexpected and definitely appreciated. As a result of this simple, low cost gesture, I walked out of the restaurant thinking about when I could come back to use the gift card, not the problem we had just encountered.

Problems are going to happen with your conference or event. The mistakes may or may not be your fault, but when they happen, do you ignore them or make excuses and pass the buck? Or, do you own it, fix it and overcome it? The choice is yours and people are watching to see what you do.

What do you do when you mess up?

Meeting Planner Survival Kit

My son has been learning a lot of lessons lately about being prepared.  His teachers at school, his coaches at soccer and his leader at scouts all saying the same thing…be prepared. It got me thinking how much being prepared applies to Meeting Planners as well.

Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies.   These can vary depending on the event so be sure to think ahead about your specific event and what last minute needs and emergencies might arise.  Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.

  • Smartphone – You need to be accessible and be able to access others at a moments notice.
  • Phone Charger – No battery can last as long as your meetings can.
  • Mints
  • Pens – They always disappear and someone will need to borrow one.
  • Band-aids
  • Flash Drive with all conference documents – Just in case.
  • Tide to Go Stick or Shout Wipes – You won’t always have time to change and you just can’t walk around with a stain.
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wet Wipes
  • Kleenex
  • Granola Bars – You may not get a chance to eat lunch
  • Water – You need to stay well hydrated
  • Comfortable Shoes – This is something that I know a lot about, shoes are one of my favorite things.  I always keep a pair of heels (comfortable ones like Sofft* or Soft Walk**) for when I am in front of people and a pair of flats (Walking Cradles*** or Taryn Rose****) for walking around.  If you haven’t shopped these brands, Zappos has a great selection and usually you can find them on sale with free shipping and no sales tax.  They really are extremely comfortable when you are on your feet all day.

What about you, is there something I missed in your survival kit?  Please let us know.

*Sofft – Has a great arch support.
**Soft Walk – Has an eggs shell type foot bed for great cushioning
***Walking Cradles – Has an arch support and heel cushioning
****Taryn Rose – Has a temperpedic foot bed for extra support and cushion