Events for The Christian Meeting Planner

Last year we published 2 posts telling you about Rejuvenate Marketplace 2010 (read here and here). In today’s post we want to make you aware of another faith-based planner meeting. If you are a Christian meeting planner, denominational leader, church retreat planner, or anyone else responsible for planning events and retreats, it’s certainly another event for you to consider.

Jayne Kuryluck, with Christian Meetings & Convention Association, sent us the following information which we are happy to share with our readers:

“Have you ever wondered what impact we would make on our industry, if all Christians did business together in a way that proclaimed Christ?   Would people be encouraged and souls won for the Kingdom?That is the purpose behind Christian Meetings & Conventions Association (CMCA).   We do business and proclaim Christ in the hospitality industry.  ‘Finding Rest’ is the theme for this years  gathering at Ridgecrest Conference Center April 12 – 14, 2011.”

Are you planning to attend CMCA or Rejuvenate Marketplace 2011 this year? If not, is there another event planning conference you attend?

Top 10 Posts – 1st Quarter 2011

Where does the time go? Hard to believe we’re already 25% through 2011!

For us here at MinistryServingMinistry, it’s been a busy quarter. In fact, it’s been our most active quarter since launching the blog last January. Over 1,800 visits and more than 3,500 page views! This is very encouraging as it hopefully means you, our readers, are finding content that is valuable and helpful.

With that in mind, here’s a list of our Top 10 most read posts over the past 3 months. Some are current, while others are from last year. Perhaps there’s one in there you missed, so feel free to check ’em out.

  1. Creating A Standout Women’s Retreat
  2. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat
  3. 6 Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Leadership Retreat
  4. 5 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over
  5. Too Busy For A Vacation
  6. 3 Steps To More Productive Brainstorming
  7. Don’t Let Your Events Get Stuck In A Rut
  8. What Are The Meeting Trends for 2011
  9. Great Resources For Christian Meeting Planners
  10. What’s Hot, What’s Not in 2011

As always, please let us know what’s going on with you and where we can help.

10 Questions To Answer Before Calling A Retreat Facility

Choosing a location for your retreat can be a time consuming process, especially if you are a first-time planner. However, with just a little advance planning, you can significantly reduce the time spent speaking with prospective hotels and Christian retreat facilities by having the answers ready for most of the questions they will be asking you. Not only will this save you valuable time, but it should also help smooth out the selection process.

View from Glorieta Overlook

To help you save valuable time, here are 10 questions you have the answers to PRIOR to calling a facility about hosting your event:

  • What is the purpose of your retreat? – Answering this question sets the stage for all the others as the purpose goes a long way in determining the type of facility, recreation, meals, etc.
  • What kind of accommodations are you looking for? – Options range from hotel type, dorm rooms with bath on hall, private lodges to rustic cabins with no heat or plumbing.
  • Does your group expect to have private baths in each room, or would they be OK with hall baths or bathhouses?
  • Do you want to cook your own meals, or have the meals provided by the facility?
  • What quality of food does your group expect?
  • How large do you realistically expect your group to be? – Critical to get this one right. Go too large and you risk paying for space/rooms you don’t need. Underestimate and you may be faced with a facility that’s too small for your event.
  • How many meeting rooms do you need? (ie..general session, breakouts, etc)
  • When do you plan to arrive and depart?
  • Do you mind sharing the facility with other groups?
  • How much money do you want to spend? Even more importantly, what is your group as a whole willing to spend? It’s critical to make sure price expectation match up with facility expectations. Otherwise your group may be happy with the price, but not with the quality of what it buys them.

Those of you with a little more time in the planning saddle, any questions we’ve missed? If so, please chime in with your comment and suggestion.

A Little Insight into Site Selection

At Ridgecrest Conference Center we host hundreds of events each year. In doing so, we get the pleasure of working with many excellent Christian meeting and retreat planners. Over the next several months, we will be posting a series of Q and A sessions where we ask some of these planners to share a little of their meeting expertise with us.

Cathy Payne is the International Director for the Church of God of Prophecy and we asked her to give us her top 3 list for each of 3 questions related to selecting a destination and site for her meetings. Here they are:

MSM – What are the top 3 reasons you select a particular destination?

  1. Location
  2. Price
  3. Service

MSM – What are the top 3 reasons you select a specific hotel/conference center at that destination?

  1. Self contained/all under 1 roof
  2. Close to shopping
  3. Availability of fellowship areas

MSM – What are the 3 most important details to you when negotiating a contract with the event venue?

  1. Free parking
  2. Free meeting space
  3. Free sleeping room upgrades for staff

What about you? How do your top 3 differ from Cathy’s? Please feel free to share by commenting below.

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?

Are You Attending Rejuvenate Marketplace 2010?

If you are a Christian meeting planner, denominational leader, church retreat planner, or anyone else responsible for planning events and retreats, then this event is definitely for you. Rejuvenate Marketplace is a great event specifically for faith-based meeting planners and this year it will be in Louisville, KY, Oct 18-21. (click here for more info)

A couple of months ago, Christine Born of Collinson Media wrote a guest post for us (read here) and talked about the benefits to meeting planners who attend. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, then maybe hearing some testimonies from other meeting planners will do the trick. Check out this video and hear what some of your peers have to say!

So, what do you think? Will we see you in Louisville this October? Sure hope so!

Rejuvenate Marketplace: Inspiration for Faith-based Planners

The following is a guest post from Christine Born cborn@collinsonmedia.com. Christine is editorial director for Collinson Media & Events and serves as editor for Rejuvenate Magazine.

A recent post on this blog (Is There Still Value In Face-to-Face Meetings?) supports the responses we gathered at a series of advisory council meetings held with meeting planners around the country in the past two months. Many of the participants were past attendees at our own conference and show, Rejuvenate Marketplace, which is dedicated to planners of faith-based conferences and events.

They all confirmed the value their members receive from their own face-to-face meetings. While education is a very important component, most agreed networking opportunities provide the greatest satisfaction and inspiration to attendees. 

People want to get together. They want to gather, share stories and gain bits of wisdom in an environment that supports their common interests, respecting their experience and values.

Rejuvenate Marketplace, the brainchild of family-owned Collinson Media & Events, was created to provide that opportunity to faith-based planners. Its mission statement is to serve the industry through innovative education and powerful networking with the goal of helping our partners exceed their expectations.

The educational seminars, which range from boot camps for both novice and veteran planners to ethics discussions, feature several Rejuvenate magazine columnists and contributors. Faith-based planners get a special perspective from presenters like Tommy Keown of LifeWay and keynote speakers. (George Barna of the Barna Research Group and Andrew Young, elder statesman and pastor, spoke at previous Rejuvenate Marketplace events.)

Our signature “reverse” trade show is a welcome alternative for both planners and suppliers who don’t want to walk a trade show floor. They meet in 6-minute, pre-set appointments, arranged by our “matchmaking” staff based on each party’s requirements and needs. Past attendees say they are very satisfied with the results; many come away with future event sites set or, at least, excellent prospects.

Entertainment also fits the bill for this faith-based audience. Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, the high-energy, horn-driven big band group, brought their special perspective on Christian music to last year’s Rejuvenate Marketplace. Gospel singer CeCe Winans provided a rousing ending to the 2008 event, bringing the audience to their feet. This year, Grammy-award winning gospel and soul singer Kirk Franklin will close out the 2010 Rejuvenate Marketplace, Oct. 21, in Louisville, Ky.

We invite faith-based planners looking for their own opportunity to meet with their peers to join us for inspiration, learning and networking at this year’s Rejuvenate Marketplace, Oct. 18-21, in Louisville. It’s an event created just for you from a company that shares your values.

Please visit RejuvenateMeetings.com for registration information, videos and testimonials about the event.

“LifeWay definitely supports this event. Ridgecrest and Glorieta participate as suppliers and LifeWay event planners attend for personal training and development.” – Byron

Planner's Perspective: Unintended Consequences

The following is a guest post from Dean Jones. Dean is a certified meeting planner and serves as the conference manager for Rejuvenate Marketplace.

James Whitlock is not someone you probably know or have ever met. I don’t know him either, but his story intrigued me and I knew he would be the subject of my next article. The connection starts with my wife (she doesn’t know James either), who is a Nashville kindergarten teacher. The Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) system built five snow days into the 2009-10 calendar. I realize that many of you from climates cooler than Nashville are already shaking your heads and rolling your eyes — and it’s well deserved. Nashville is a semi-Southern city with 5,600 miles of paved roads and 30 snowplows (actually 28 now — two crashed their first day out this season). Needless to say, Nashville doesn’t deal with snow well. So back to the five snow days: MNPS called off school seven days this winter to avoid potential disasters with buses, parents and kids on the roads.

Seven minus five equals two. Two school days must be made up. The dilemma is how: shorten spring break, lengthen the school year or add additional time each day? The MNPS board chose option three. It made sense. The teachers are already at school, the heat is on, buses are running their routes, and 30 additional minutes a day for 26 days seemed like a logical solution. However, as with many “logical” solutions, there are unintended consequences — enter James Whitlock, time systems lead worker. Mr. Whitlock is the sole employee of MNPS tasked with programming and upkeep of school bells. The logical decision became a nightmare for one employee, with 139 school-bell systems to reprogram.

I have made similar decisions related to my events. They seemed logical on the surface but more thought and feedback from staff or outsiders could have revealed flaws in my logic or perhaps an alternate plan with fewer unintended consequences.

So how do you avoid putting yourself and your events into this position? Whenever you need to make a change to some existing system, program, schedule or event, it’s wise to have a pool of people that can help you evaluate potential decisions and repercussions. This team could be other planners, friends, staff or outsiders, but a combination of all would be a great mixture. Sometimes when we bounce ideas off other planners they only offer us one perspective, but an outsider may offer a totally new perspective that we hadn’t considered.

Begin thinking now of your “consequence team” that can help you evaluate potential scenarios, evaluate trouble spots and provide alternative solutions to your decisions. One word of advice — be sure that James Whitlock is on your team!

Be careful out there!

3 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Meeting or Conference

In a previous post (read here), I shared the results of a recent Forbes survey that showed business executives still overwhelmingly believe in the value of face-to-face meetings. I also shared my belief that the same reasons given by the executives surveyed also hold true for Christian meetings and retreats.

Rally to Ridgecrest

There is definitely value in the personal interaction of face-to-face meetings, but as meeting planners, you must be intentional in fostering and maximizing the personal interaction that occurs during your event. Here are 3 things you can do to help make sure this happens:

  • Provide meaningful takeaways for your attendees – Whether it be the general sessions or the breakouts offered, work with your presenters to improve the quality of their material. Give those attending something they can really sink their teeth into. Also make sure the sessions are relevant to those attending your event. It could be a great presentation, but if it doesn’t connect with the audience and their needs, it’s pretty much a waste of their time.
  • Provide more networking opportunities – This is a huge one for me personally. When I attend a conference I feel I get as much, or more, from the networking than I do from the scheduled sessions. Be intentional about this, not only during the conference, but also before and after. Social media makes this easier than ever before. Create an online community where attendees and speakers can interact before, during and after your conference.
  • Provide more value to your sponsors and exhibitors – Sometimes these folks are forgotten, or taken for granted, by meeting planners. We’re probably a little unique in that we experience meetings and conferences from all angles (event sponsor, exhibitor, event planner and event host site) so we’ve seen this done well and not so well. If your event has sponsors/exhibitors never forget that these folks are helping to pay the cost of your conference. Be very intentional about optimizing exhibitor/attendee time. As an exhibitor or sponsor, I do not have an unlimited budget for tradeshows and conferences. Thus I’m going to focus my limited dollars on those events where I get the best bang for my buck.

What about your events? What are you doing to maximize the value for your attendees?

Is There Still Value In Face-to-Face Meetings?

Since the economic downturn began in 2008, many organizations have struggled with justifying the expenses associated with holding, or attending conferences. I can certainly understand this as we’ve wrestled with these same issues. “Can I afford to bring my remotely located staff together for a retreat? Can I afford to attend that training? Can I afford to attend my association’s annual conference? Can I afford NOT to do any of these things?”

Tough questions for tough economic times. Fortunately we are starting to see some studies validating the value of face to face meetings. This past summer, Forbes released a study entitled “Business Meetings: The Case for Face to Face“. The study surveyed over 750 businesses and asked whether or not web conferences, video conferences and other virtual meetings can really take the place of face to face meetings.

For those of us who plan, or host conferences, the results are encouraging. 80% said they preferred face to face meetings over virtual meetings! Here are the top 3 reasons they gave for their preference:

  1. Helps to build stronger, more meaningful relationships
  2. Allows them to read body language and facial expressions
  3. Greater social interaction

Also in the survey, the executives were asked which specific business actions or outcomes were best served through face to face interaction. As you might expect, they listed some pretty important actions:

  • Persuasion (91%)
  • Leadership (87%)
  • Engagement (87%)
  • Inspiration (85%)
  • Decision Making (82%)
  • Accountability (79%)
  • Brainstorming (73%)
  • Strategy (73%)

While this study focused on business executives, I think the findings are still applicable to the world of Christian meetings and retreats. At the end of the day, people still prefer personal interaction over looking and talking to someone on a computer screen. The question for us is, what are we doing to foster and maximize the value of that personal interaction?