Benefits of a Conference/Retreat Center

Determining a venue for an event is one of the foundational elements of event planning. Where will your event take place? What are your facility needs? Where will attendees travel from to attend your event? These are just a few of the questions you will have to answer as you begin to find an event location.

Some events are best suited for large cities with many hotel choices, easy airport access, diverse restaurants, and highly-anticipated tourist stops. Others are more suited for “off the beaten path” type venues. Regardless of your event type, knowing your planning team and guests’ expectations and your venue’s ability to fulfill those are both equal parts of the formula for a successful event. Have you considered a conference/retreat center to be your one stop shop for your next event?

Here are a few benefits of choosing a conference/retreat center:

  • Everything is in one location. Housing, food service, and conference spaces are all centrally located. Typically, all are in easy walking distance for guests. Attendees can return to their rooms without the hassle of needing a car (which inevitably leads to the dreaded finding your car, paying parking fees, and then searching for a parking space upon your return).
  • Conference centers foster community. With your guests in one location, there are enhanced opportunities for conversations to take place and relationships to form. Walking to and from various facilities, eating meals together, and conversing in common areas after evening sessions are just a few of the ways conference centers can provide outlets for community and networking.
  • Transportation is a little less complicated. This is a twofold benefit of a conference center. First, if guests or event staff are flying to the destination, they can be shuttled in groups to the conference center. Because transportation most likely won’t be needed while on property during the event, this will eliminate the need for rental cars, thus saving money. Second, once guests arrive, if they drove, they can leave their vehicles parked throughout the event, thus avoiding parking fees and the stress of trying to find parking spaces in crowded lots or streets.
  • Equipment is often readily available without a rental company. While this isn’t always the case with every need, conference centers will often include equipment in the price or at a discounted rate. For example, at Ridgecrest Conference Center, use of the large auditorium includes audiovisual equipment such a full range PA and sound board, lighting, and projection. What could cost you up to $10,000 per weekend from a rental company is included at no additional charge if your group meets requirements for this facility. Fees from rental companies do not include the labor to run it, and most conference centers have staff on hand to run these at minimal or no additional cost.
  • On-site recreation and other activities can enhance free-time. Many conference centers have recreational activities on site. These often include high ropes courses, team building elements, hiking trails, disc golf, and basketball/volleyball courts. In addition to recreation, conference centers often have gathering places like coffee shops and other purposed locations to get away, reflect, and relax.

Conference/retreat centers aren’t for every event, but they provide the perfect location for many. If you’re looking for a conference/retreat center, check out ccca.org or iacca.org.

 

Are You Considering The 3 “What’s” When Planning Your Event?

Hopefully you read our last blog about planning a great event, entitled, “Are You Considering The 3 “Who’s” When Planning Your Event?” If you didn’t, I suggest you do that ASAP here.

Now, we’re going to focus on the 3 “what’s” of planning. They are:

  • What is the conference going to be about? Obviously, when you’re thinking of who is speaking and who you’re inviting, you’re simultaneously thinking about what the speakers will be talking about. Having some sort of continuity is important at an event, and having the exact idea in your mind at all times will help you stay on target. You won’t know how to advertise or, well, plan the whole event if you don’t know what it’s going to be about!
  • What kind of “vibe” do you want to create? Knowing the overall “feel” or “vibe” of the event will help things run smoothly. For example, if you’re having a serious event, then party balloons, juice boxes, and a cake with sprinkles might not be the best ideas, right? You want this event to be memorable, and you want the attendees to have fun and learn something, so plan accordingly!
  • What important aspects might I be forgetting? Is your event going to have lectures, speaker panels, group work, and/or workshops? Is half of the event outside, with team-building strategies and networking built into the schedule? Will the conference center provide food, or do you need to get the event catered? How many days and how many hours per day are you going to have meetings? Are there enough snacks? Is each presenter going to have a PowerPoint presentation and need a microphone? Is there going to be a dress code? Are you going to allow laptops in the conference room for note taking purposes? Seriously, are there enough snacks? This list may seem overwhelming, and none of these are actually “what” questions, but these are just a few of the vital questions you should ask yourself when you’re thinking, “What?”

Once you know exactly what the conference is about, who is speaking and attending (which we talked about last week), what topics will be covered, what kind of “vibe” you’re aiming for, and the “little” things like if you’re providing notebooks for attendees or not, you’ll be even closer to having a great event!

Can you think of other “what” questions I may be missing?