Christian Meeting Planning Resources – November Update

Here are some great articles we’ve read in November, I hope you find something useful as your making plans for your upcoming meetings and events.

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

 

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?

 

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?

 

Deciding "Where" To Have My Event Is Easy, Right?

Today’s post is the 4th in a 5-part series on the 5 W’s of planning an event. Those 5 W’s are Who, What, When, Where and Why. Previous posts have addressed Who, What and When. (If you have not already, I would encourage you to go back and read each of them.) Now it’s time to take a look at what should go into determining “where” to have your event.

How many of you think choosing “where” to have your event is all fun and games? I mean, come on. Don’t meeting planners get to travel to great places and enjoy being pampered by hotels and CVB’s anxious to get their business? Well, yes, that is probably true for those planning large events, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Whether you’re planning a conference for 2,000 or a retreat for 20, choosing where to have the event is serious business. You can do a great job with the who, what and when questions, but drop the ball on where to hold the event and you’ll run the very real risk of watching all those efforts go spinning down the drain. Definitely not something we want to see happen!

When planning where, the first thing you must decide is whether to hold the event on-site at your church or ministry, or take the event off-site to a Christian conference/retreat center, hotel or convention center. While I would always recommend holding your event off-site, there are advantages and disadvantages to both options. It really comes down to the type of event it is and what it is you hope to accomplish.

I’m sure you’ve all heard it said the 3 most important words in real estate are location, location, location. What works for real estate also works for events. Once you’ve determined to take your event off-site, choosing the location/venue is the next step in the “where” process. It’s critical you select a location and venue that fits your group and their needs. Here are some sample questions you should consider when deciding where to hold your event:

  • How far from home are people willing to travel for this event?
  • Where will my attendees be coming from?
  • Will the majority of attendees be driving or flying?
  • What levels of service do my attendees expect?
  • How much can my attendees afford to pay?
  • Where was the event last year and how did that impact attendance?

Choosing where to have your event should not be taken lightly. Take the time to select a location and venue that best fits your group’s needs, pocketbook and objectives. I promise you won’t be sorry!

What has worked best for you in the past?

 

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!

3 Tips to Creating an Unforgettable Event

Here’s a hypothetical but semi-normal situation: John, who just arrived home from an event, was just asked by his wife, “So how was it?”

John’s response could go one of two ways. “Oh, it was just another normal event. What’s for dinner?”  Or,  “It was SO awesome. You gotta see these pictures I took. This photo is the speaker who we all went to dinner with on the second day. Oh, and this was the surprise hike we all went on. Seriously, it was a blast.”

The first response reminds me of some normal ole’ business meeting. The second? A real experience of an event that could change an attendee’s life. Now, isn’t it obvious which you’d rather have?

Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience:

  1. Know Your Guests
    This is the most essential aspect of creating an experience instead of just an event. I could just stop here, and it would almost be enough. But I won’t!  Instead of spending time and money on what you think attendees might want, spend time and money on what you know they want. Conduct an Internet poll before the conference to learn a little more about your guests. Maybe you think speakers should have more time than group discussions, but your attendees want the opposite. Maybe you think a quick lunch in the conference area would be best, but you learn that a longer, outdoor lunch is preferable. Even if you don’t do a poll, really put yourself in your attendees’ shoes with every decision you make.
  2. Have Enough Free Time
    Free time in between speakers (or workshops or whatever else is going on during the day) is needed for self-reflection, networking, and relaxing attendees’ brains. I don’t think a poll is needed to prove this one; giving your guests free time and making them feel relaxed instead of rushed will help them learn and be grateful for attending. Oh, and networking and making friends will absolutely help the event be even more memorable.
  3. Engage
    Engaging doesn’t just mean getting your attendees involved, but it also means making them feel important. There’s a difference between, “I went to an event and learned a lot,” and, “I feel like that event really spoke to me.” Having choices, having fun, and having unique opportunities will engage your guests much more than a routine, average conference.

What else helps make an event memorable?

What's New In Hotel Trends?

As with most industries today, the hotel industry is undergoing constant change. These changes are driven primarily by two factors, an ever increasing need to lower costs/increase effeciency and evolving guest preferences. As a result of these factors, here are 5 new hotel trends I see emerging over the next couple of years:

  • Bathroom – More and more hotels are doing away with tubs and instead creating walk-in showers. An aging population, combined with the fact fewer and fewer people actually use the tub to take a bath, are driving this trend.
  • Workspace – The key here is creating more flexibility. As tablets and smartphones are becoming more the norm, hotels are utilizing smaller desks. Some, such as Hampton Inn, are even placing trays in the room. This allows the guest to choose where and how they want to work in their room.
  • Bedding – Let’s face it, the primary reason people rent a hotel room is to have a place to sleep. It only makes sense for hotels to try and make a great impression with the bedding in their rooms. Now that all the major chains have raised the bar with the quality of their beds and pillows, their next focus is on the bedding itself. The new trend is to go with all white as a symbol of clean. They’re also looking for new fabrics that are more hygenic and stain-repellant.
  • Lighting – Again, with an aging population, there is a trend emerging of more and better lighting access. This makes it easier for older guests to read. I recently stayed in a Marriott where there was a small reading light installed on the headboard, opposite the traditional lights between the beds. Very convenient!
  • Electrical outlets – Gone are the days when you had to move the bed or nightstand in order to charge your cell phone. Hotels are recognizing the typical guest may have 2 or more devices that need to be charged overnight. This has created a need for easier access to more electrical outlets.

Have you noticed any of these trends in your recent travels? What other new hotel trends you’re seeing?

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?

Getting Outside The Meeting Planning Box

Recently I read a great article online dealing with the new wave of creativity in faith-based  conferences. The article highlighted 2 very creative conferences and what they were doing to set themselves apart from traditional annual conferences.

The first conference mentioned was the Story conference, an annual event held in Chicago for self-described artists and creators (mostly Christian) who are trying to communicate their stories. Their focus is on making the event an experience, not just another conference. The intent is to inspire people and help them see what’s possible by pushing their imaginations to new heights.

The second one was the Echo Conference, an educational event for the artists, geeks and storytellers that roam behind the scenes at their churches and organizations. Can you imagine the pressure these guys deal with when planning an event for creative types? Has to be tough, but they must pull it off as the conference is very popular.

In both cases, the planners talked about how they wanted to push the envelope and develop a conference that would not be the same old thing.  I believe that’s something all planners can aspire to, creating an environment where people can be inspired and their creativity and passion unleashed.

For a little encouragement, please take the time to read the entire article here. While reading it, try to focus on 1 or 2 things you can take and use to make your next event more successful.

What are some outside the planner box ideas you’ve added to your event?