Building Community

CCCA National ConferenceI recently had the opportunity to attend  Christian Camp and Conference Association’s national conference. It was held at Ridgecrest Conference Center and the theme this year was, “Mosaic…accomplishing more together”.

We are long-time members of CCCA and were excited to have the honor of hosting this year’s conference. We were also quite nervous as this was the first time in almost 30 years that CCCA had chosen a member facility to host this very important conference. Last year’s conference was held at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and the year before at Disney’s Coronado Springs in Orlando.

To say the bar was set pretty high would definitely be an understatement. However we had an ace up our sleeve that we felt would allow us to more than hold our own against those other very nice properties. The advantage we had is the same advantage you will find at any Christian conference facility, and that is the ability to help create community.

Hotels and convention centers are created to host meetings and conferences. They do a good job of providing sleeping rooms and meeting space. What they don’t do a good job of is providing a place where a group/organization can come together and build community. By this I mean they don’t really provide a place, or way, for attendees to come together and easily network in an informal manner, outside the scheduled meeting times. On the other hand, most Christian conference/retreat centers are created in such a way as to help make this happen naturally.

At Ridgecrest, this informal networking happened primarily over meals. The ability for everyone to come together for breakfast, lunch and dinner was huge. Last year at The Broadmoor, most folks skipped breakfast (cost too much), grabbed a box lunch in the exhibit hall and then scattered to have dinner somewhere in Colorado Springs. As a result, any community building that took place was on a small scale and had to be very intentional.

This year, in contrast, people would come into the dining hall at Ridgecrest and interact with different folks at every meal. By the second day you could see the results of this fellowship as people would wait until the last possible minute to leave and head to the next scheduled part of the conference. Old friendships were being renewed, new ones were beginning and a strong sense of community was being built.

I learned a long time ago that most meeting attendees will tell you they get as much, or more, out of networking as they do attending the actual conference sessions. If you are a Christian meeting planner, I would challenge you to give this a lot of thought as you plan your next event. Not only in designing the flow of the meeting, but also the location you choose to host the event.

So, what are you doing to help your group build community?

Service Done Right!

WinterBroadmoorNite_interior.jpgEarlier this week I attended CCCA‘s annual leadership conference, HighDef09. The event this year was held at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. To say this hotel is nice would be like saying Jimmie Johnson is an ok NASCAR driver (I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but I hear JJ really is a pretty fair driver.).

For those of you not familiar with The Broadmoor, it is a 5 star resort located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Since it’s the only 5 star resort this old Holiday Inn guy has ever stayed in, I don’t really have anything to compare it to other than to say it’s well beyond nice.

As you would expect, the hotel itself was beautiful and my room was probably the nicest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. I especially enjoyed the flat screen TV built into the wall above the bathroom vanity. (Never had to miss ESPN!)  I also enjoyed the nightly turndown service, the well equiped fitness center and simply having to call Housekeeping when I was in need of ice (explained why there were no ice machines on the guest room floors).

All of the facilities and amenities were what you would expect when you’re paying to stay at a 5 star resort, so no real surprise there. What was a surprise to me was the overwhelming friendliness of every staff member I came in contact with. It wasn’t really until the end of the second day that I really began to take note of this.

As I was walking to that evening’s general session, I passed four different room attendants heading into the tower I was staying in. Each one smiled and spoke to me as we passed each other. That’s when I realized these guys obviously take customer service training very seriously. In many hotels and conference centers the primary emphasis of customer service training is directed at the front of the house employees (front desk clerks, bell staff, wait/banquet staff, etc) and not much attention is given to training back of the house employees (housekeeping, maintenance, kitchen, etc).

Based on what I experienced, this is certainly not the case at The Broadmoor. They understand that many guests have more interaction with housekeeping and maintenance staff, in and around the hotel, than they do with front desk clerks and banquet waiters. I have no doubt they spend a significant amount of time on customer service training with all their employees.

The end result is a very friendly hotel where service is done right. The really cool thing is that you don’t have to be a 5 star hotel to provide friendly service. All is takes is dedication to training all employees in providing excellent customer service.

Hopefully, when you visit Ridgecrest or Glorieta, you will experience friendly service from all of our employees. That’s certainly our desire. If that’s not the case, please do not hesitate to let us know.