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?


Why Make Team-Building A Part Of Your Retreat

What do you think of when you see the words team building?  My mind immediately goes to a trust fall…that’s the olde standby activity in most organizations.

I recently read a story about an NFL coach surprising his players with a bowling trip.  He used this time to build camaraderie between his players.  They’re a literal team.  The offensive line has to block for the quarterback.  The line backer has to support the defensive line.  You can see how those pieces come together.

Most organizations are not football teams but need similar team-building exercises.  Why?  Here are four reasons.

  1. Gets you out of your comfort zone. I’ve worked in big organizations and little organizations. When we’ve done a large group team-building exercise, I was forced to work with people inside the organization I didn’t know. This can be a great thing as it can lead to other collaborative ideas.
  2. Relationship building. This can relate to the first reason, because even in the same department, you may not know the person working in the cubicle next door.
  3. Allows you to see your co-workers in a different light. We always put up our work fronts. We probably don’t know it, but these fronts come up when we go to church or conferences. These team-building exercises allow these fronts to come down.
  4. Sometimes you need a reason to get out of the office. When I worked in a big organization, our department always took some time once a quarter to get out of the office. We went bowling or to the batting cages. Not much of a big deal, but it was great to laugh and get rid of that extra stress.

Do you find including team-building exercises as part of your event are important?  Why?  And what are some team-building exercises that you’ve used?

About the Author:  I am currently an artist manager for Michael Smith and Associates.  I work with promoters and event planners to coordinate their concerts that feature our acts.  I’ve been in the CCM business since I was in 8th grade having worked at a Christian bookstore and then Word Entertainment.  I’m also a drummer and attend ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, TN.  My wife, Caron, and I have one daughter, Molly Cate.  Most importantly, I’m an Apple fan. Follow me on Twitter: @KyleBJohnson

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?


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?

What Are You Doing About Flu Season?

OK, I know. This is supposed to be a blog focused on Christian meeting planners so you may be wondering why is he writing about the flu?

Good question, but it’s actually quite simple. As someone responsible for bringing groups of people together, you can also help prevent the spread of flu (and other illness) among your attendees. After all, it’s pretty hard for someone to get much out of your great conference if they’re sick and stuck in their room.

With a little help from the CDC, here are 3 things you can do to help keep the flu from wrecking your event!

  • Talk about flu prevention – Educate your planning team and others about all they can be doing to help prevent the spread of the virus. Things such as covering your mouth when you cough, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, washing your hands with soap and water, etc.
  • Protect yourself and your planning team – Encourage everyone, including yourself, to get a flu shot. As they say, an ounce of prevention…
  • Provide hand sanitizers – Talk to the facility hosting your event and insist they provide hand-sanitizer stations for your meeting or retreat. At Ridgecrest we provide these at various locations throughout campus.

Curious…how many times have you come home from a conference sick? Unfortunately it happens more than we’d like to admit. All the more reason to do all we can to prevent it.

3 Ways Technology Can Help You Plan Your Next Retreat

Recently I came across an article online entitled, “11 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for in 2011“. The article was written by Corbin Ball and covered what he felt would be the major meeting and tradeshow technology trends to watch for in 2011.

While Ball’s focus was primarily on large corporate meetings and tradeshows, I believe some of what he brought out in his post can also benefit those folks who plan any size Christian meeting, event or retreat. With that in mind, here are 3 technology trends I believe could help you as you plan your events this year.

  • Web-based software – In the past, meeting planning software was cost-prohibitive for small events and retreats. Now there are web-based options (free, or low cost) that can be of tremendous help to event and retreat planners. One option to check out would be The site provides easy to build HTML forms that can be used for registration, collection of payments, share info with attendees, etc. As we also plan events, this is a site we’re definitely looking into.
  • Mobile apps for meetings – In a previous post, I wrote about the coming smart phone revolution (read here) and how it would impact meetings and conferences. Analysts estimate that by the end of 2011, the majority of cell phones used in the U.S. will be smart phones. Smart phone technology is increasingly being used for networking, exhibit layout, pocket programs, sermon notes, real-time surveys and more. Here’s a link to a new website that’s come online to help planners track all of these options.
  • Social media is becoming main stream– Analysts believe in 2011 we’ll see more usage of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for event marketing. Expect the emphasis to evolve from just letting people know about the event, to building attendee engagement before, during and after the event. Twitter, with the use of hashtags, is probably the best platform to use, for now, if you’re trying to build engagement with your audience.

As you think about how to incorporate technology into your events and event planning, don’t try to force it. Look for ways where the use of technology will make it easier for you to plan the retreat and/or enhance the overall event experience for your attendees.

Are you currently utilizing technology to help take your event to the next level? If so, what is it that’s working for you? Would you mind sharing your successes with our readers?