Christian Meeting Planning Resources – December Update

Here is what we’ve added in December by category


Site Selection


Meeting Planners

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


Christian Meeting Planning Resources – October Update

Here is what we’ve added in October by category


Site Selection


Meeting Planners

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

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.

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!

What Are You Doing To Help Maximize Your Attendees' Experience?

Rally to Ridgecrest

As a meeting planner, you can do a great job planning and marketing your event, but if your attendees don’t have a good experience your event could be seen as a flop. So, the question is: What are you doing to help your attendees maximize their experience?

This morning I came across an excellent article dealing with this very topic. It was directed to those attending the upcoming Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest and was titled, Maximize Your Conference Experience. The post, written by Michelle Cox (a member of the event’s faculty), was an excellent example of trying to help event attendees maximize their time and experience.

Based on her post, the following ideas and tips could help your attendees maximize their conference experience:

  • Travel directions – Help to take away any concerns attendees may have related to how to get to the conference location.
  • Home away from home – Tips on the conference facility and what it has to offer your attendees.
  • What to bring – Let them know what items they should bring to help them get the most out of your event.
  • Clothes/Weather – Answer the questions, what should I wear and what will the weather be like.
  • Homework – Is there any work that needs to be done prior to the conference? If so, be sure to spell that out so your attendees can come prepared.
  • Prayer – Don’t forget to ask your attendees to help pray for the conference and the role God would have them play in it.

What else have you done to help your attendees maximize their experience at your events? We would love to get your additional suggestions!

Creating A Standout Women's Retreat

Recently I had the opportunity to record our first podcast for Ministry Serving Ministry with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade. Chris and Betsy both work in Women’s ministry here at LifeWay Christian Resources and are experts when it comes to planning events for women. Hopefully you will enjoy what they have to share.

5 Tips For Planning A Golf Retreat

I recently read a good post for planning a golf retreat from a friend, Scott Lehman. Scott is the founder and president of In His Grip Golf and we have partnered with Scott on several Pastors Masters golf events at Ridgecrest and Glorieta. In fact, if you’re going to be attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando this June, be sure to stop by our booth as Scott will be there giving a series of putting lessons.

Anyway, if you’re considering planning a golf retreat, here are some great tips from a golf pro!

I have been playing this great game of golf for over 40 years and have been on my share of golf retreats.  In fact, I am just returning from our In His Grip Golf Retreat that I hosted at Limestone Springs in Oneonta, AL.  A great course with a golf cottage on site.   Experience has revealed a few “best practices” and I would love to share them with you.

1.  Define your Purpose: You may want to talk to your guys first to see what would be their ultimate golf retreat experience.  I am starting to learn that guys want to play A LOT of golf, BUT, they also want some DOWN TIME.   We always try to use our In His Grip retreats to have a message in the evening or make it available for certain prayer requests.  This past weekend we spent time praying over our Senior Pastor who is battling cancer.

2.  Date and Location: Most of the golf retreats I have been on are either in the spring or in the fall.  When booking your date and location remember to stay away from course maintenance weeks and you may want to consider daylight savings time.

3.  Determine Your Budget: Hey, we are in challenging economic times and that means that our personal budgets are more sensitive than ever.  Searching the Internet for deals is still a great resource and most golf facilities need the business so don’t be afraid to ASK.

4.  Define your Formats Upfront: I like to send out the formats and teams ahead of time.  I also like to switch it up.  For example, we started out with a two-man scramble, then we had a two-man best ball and finished with a four-man scramble.  It’s a great way to build new relationships and allows for all playing ability levels to have a good time.

5.  Caravan to Build Camaraderie: We always try to have a central meeting point, like our church, and then load up the vehicles so we don’t have anyone driving solo.  It is amazing how many memories are also on the ride to or from the course.

I hope one or two of these keys will help make your next golf retreat experience more memorable.  You may even want to consider a survey from the guys to get their input.  Let me know what some of  your golf retreat experiences have been and what is your favorite golf retreat location and why?

I hope to see you on the course.  Scott