Contracts 101


Event planning and contracts … the two go hand in hand. For seasoned event planners, contracts are often second nature. For new event planners, contracts can seem daunting with the legal jargon. This blog post is here to help.

What is a contract?
A contract is simply defined as an agreement between two or more parties. It is legally binding in a court of law. Contracts are in place to protect both parties.

Do I have to sign a contract?
Yes! If a company doesn’t offer you a contract, request one. This is your safety net when it comes to executing your event.

Who signs the contract?
This can be a little harder to clearly define since your church or organization might have rules set in place. Make sure to contact those in leadership positions within your organization prior to signing a contract. The person signing may be held financially responsible.

What should event contracts include?
It is not uncommon to have contracts with multiple entities. Depending on your event logistics, you may have contracts with a venue, hotel, guest speaker, worship band, rental companies, catering companies, etc.

Every contract should include dates and rates. Dates can include the actual event date plus any type of cancellation policies. For contracts with speakers or bands, clearly defined travel arrangements should be included. Contracts with musicians and some speakers also come with riders, documents explaining technical and hospitality needs. Rental and catering companies should include specific items requested and set-up/tear-down times, as well as dates to give a final guest guarantee. Housing contracts should include room types and dates pertaining to when and how room blocks can be adjusted (and any related financial impact).

In addition, all contracts should have an “Acts of God” or “force majeure” clause in the event a natural occurrence cancels or significantly alters an event.

What makes a contract binding?
In the past, verbal contracts were solidified by a handshake, or, if the parties really wanted to reach an agreement, the handshake might include spitting on the hand prior to the shake. Thankfully, spitting on hands isn’t a common practice today. Contracts are fully executed once signed by both parties. In some cases, a deposit might be required, as well.

What should I do before I sign a contract?
READ IT. All OF IT. And read it again. Know what you are committing yourself to before signing the agreement. Be detailed as you go through each section. Have another person read it, as well. As you work with contracts from different entities, cross reference them to make sure there are no discrepancies. For example, if your venue states you cannot bring in outside food, yet your worship band requires a certain type of food in their green room, you’ll need to make sure the catering company through the venue will be able to provide that and at what cost. Read it … and read it again!

What should I do after I sign a contract?
Keep a copy on file to refer to as needed. Also, go through each contract and note deadlines for various tasks. Schedule these on your calendar a week prior to when they are due in case you need to complete any additional work to meet that deadline. Deadlines could include room block adjustment dates, guarantees for catering, housing lists and room set-up forms turned in, and so on.

Event planners, don’t be afraid of contracts. Contracts are put in place to protect both you, your participants, and those you are working with. Realize they are legally binding, and you will be held to the terms of the agreement. Read them carefully. If you don’t understand something in the contract, ask prior to signing. Understand what you are committing to before you commit to it.


How Do You Handle It When You Mess Up?

Let’s face it, we all mess up and drop the ball sometimes. No individual or business is perfect. At Ridgecrest, our staff works very hard to provide an environment conducive to life change, but we still make mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen so here’s the real question. How do you handle things when you mess up?

I recently had lunch with my family at one of our favorite places, Sam’s Sports Grill at The Streets of Indian Lake. Their hamburgers are awesome and I always look forward to having one.

Unfortunately, on this day, the burger was not so good. Without going into the whole story, suffice it to say there was a problem. The kitchen tried to fix it and only made it worse. Finally I politely told our server it simply wasn’t a good experience.

From there she turned it over to her manager (good training) and he did a great job handling the situation. In fact, here are 3 things he did right that anyone should do when they mess up.

  1. Own the problem – Being an old food guy, I knew they were having problems in the kitchen and appeared to be short-staffed. When the manager came over to apologize, he shared that it was his fault they were short-staffed. I have no idea if he was the one who actually made out the work schedule for that day, but he took full responsibility for not having enough help in the kitchen.
  2. Take action to fix the problem – After apologizing, he offered to bring me a fresh burger or anything else I wanted. He also let me know he was going to take the burger off my bill. I felt that was fair, so I was satisfied with the outcome at that point.
  3. Help me to forget about the problem – A couple of minutes later he came back by our table to let me know he appreciated our business and the way I had handled my complaint. He then hit me with his WOW factor, a $10 gift card to use on our next visit. Totally unexpected and definitely appreciated. As a result of this simple, low cost gesture, I walked out of the restaurant thinking about when I could come back to use the gift card, not the problem we had just encountered.

Problems are going to happen with your conference or event. The mistakes may or may not be your fault, but when they happen, do you ignore them or make excuses and pass the buck? Or, do you own it, fix it and overcome it? The choice is yours and people are watching to see what you do.

What do you do when you mess up?

Don't Get Stuck In A Classroom!

One of the numerous advantages Christian conference centers have over hotels is the natural setting that surrounds them. Not only does the natural setting provide your group the opportunity to get away from the distractions of the world, but it also provides your group with the opportunity to get out of the traditional meeting room setting.

Recently I read a blog post entitled “What I Learned About Leadership From A Low Ropes Course”. It was written by Michael Hyatt and in the post Hyatt talks about how beneficial he found going through an adventure learning experience to be. Here’s a quote: “I love reading books on leadership and attending seminars. But as helpful as these are, they are not the same as doing something together with a team. There are some things in life that are best learned by doing.” (Read full post)

I loved reading this post! See, I’m a big believer in adventure or experiential learning. As Hyatt points out, it’s one thing to read about a subject or sit in a classroom listening to a lecture, but it’s another thing all together to actually get out and learn by doing.

I think this is especially true in dealing with leadership and team-building. Getting a group out into an adventure setting helps to break down barriers and level playing fields. If facilitated well, this type of learning can have a huge positive influence on growing leaders and building teams.

When was the last time you incorporated adventure learning into one of your retreats? How did it work for your group? If you haven’t done this yet, why not? As you think about these questions, I’ll leave you with one last quote from Hyatt’s post…“Find a retreat center with a low (or even high) ropes course. It is well-worth the investment.”

Interested in learning more about adventure learning? If so, here’s a link to the Ridgecrest website where you can get more information (click here). Also, feel free to call 828-669-4844 and speak to one of adventure learning professionals.

8 Quick Tips For Creating A Successful Event

Retreats and meetings matter.  Whether you are booking a staff retreat or your organization’s annual conference, remember these 8 quick tips to help you create a successful event:

  1. Pick a destination where your attendees WANT to go. While you would hope they want to attend because you’ve planned a great agenda, it doesn’t hurt to hold the meeting in a location where people want to go.
  2. Create a sense of anticipation. Help them see this is a retreat or conference they simply don’t want to miss.
  3. Enhance your evening gathering by creating a theme to provide a unique experience. Try to give them something they will remember when they get home.
  4. Build a little free time in the schedule. Hopefully you’ve chosen an interesting location so be sure to give them some time to enjoy the local area. It amazes me how some groups that come to Ridgecrest don’t allow time for their folks to enjoy all the areas of Asheville and Black Mountain have to offer.
  5. Use technology to your advantage. Look for ways to provide information and allow registration via technology. Many of your attendees are packing smart phones and want to use them. Let ’em!
  6. Don’t plan every meal. Give your attendees some private time and opportunity to check out the local dining scene. It will save you money too!
  7. Give attendees easy to read information. Be sure to tell them the who, what, where, when and how.
  8. Offer a variety of activities to better meet the varied interests of your attendees. Not everyone enjoys a screaming run down the zip line!

What about you? What are some tips that have worked for you? Please feel free to share them with our readers. Thanks!

3 Steps To Building Great Sales Relationships

When a potential customer first comes in contact with your ministry or business, do they encounter a selling or buying environment? For many of us, I would venture to say it’s a selling environment. In other words, you center your marketing and sales efforts primarily on you and your product.

While it’s important to tell people about your ministry or business, this should not be the main focus. Instead, concentrate on creating a buying environment, where the focus is on customers and what they want. A great way to create this environment is through building personal relationships with your potential customers.

At LifeWay’s Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers, our sales staff emphasize building relationships with both existing and prospective customers. Our desire is for our customers to connect personally with their salesperson. We strongly believe that people buy from people they like and to whom they feel connected. This means that making sales is all about the relationship.

You can do many things to build relationships with your customers, but here are three to focus on first and foremost:

1. Be a good listener. Too many sales people talk too much. If you do all the talking, then you’re creating a selling environment. Remember, it’s not about you and your facility. The goal is to give your attention to the customer and to create a buying environment. Concentrate on asking questions to get to know your customer. This will help build rapport and get the relationship off on the right foot. Find out what’s important to them, what they want, what they need, etc. The more they talk, the more engaged they become in the possibility of buying from you.

2. Partnership. We are a ministry, serving other ministries. We want our customers to know that we see ourselves as their ministry partner. This means we are willing to do whatever we can to help their ministry be successful, even if that means they don’t hold their event or conference with us. Putting their ministry first, above our desire to sell our facilities, helps us demonstrate our commitment to the relationship. Time and time again, this commitment has resulted in groups looking for ways to buy from us.

3. Frequency of contact. It’s difficult to build a personal relationship with someone you only contact once a year. The same is true in business. Most sales people only get in touch with their customers when they need something from them (i.e. a signed contract, a meal guarantee, rooming list, etc.). Instead, focus on maintaining regular, ongoing contact with your customers. These contacts can be in the form of a phone call, an e-mail, a handwritten note or even a link to an article you think they may find helpful. The “how” is not as important as the fact that you are willing to invest time in building the relationship.

A word of caution when it comes to contact frequency: Just as some friends need to be touched more than others, the same is true here. Be sure to get to know your customers well enough that you know how frequently you need to contact them.

Regardless of who the person you’re speaking to is , they all could be potential customers for your organization. How are you building your relationship with them? The answer to that question could go a long way in determining your ministry’s future direction.

7 Steps for Building Your Ministry

I just read an article about one of the workshops offered during LifeWay Worship Week at Ridgecrest Conference Center and although the speaker is referencing Worship Ministry I thought the principles could be applied to all ministry.   I hope you find this helpful to you and your ministry.

A lack of cohesiveness and focus is one of the greatest challenges for worship leaders. But following seven steps can help get the ministry on track, according to Lavon Gray, minister of music and worship at First Baptist Church, Jackson, Miss.

1. Have a clear and biblical understanding of your calling. Your calling and how you view it will impact everything about your ministry.

“There’s nothing we can do that qualifies us to be ministers of the gospel,” Gray said. “You have to be called to do this ministry or go do something else.”

2. Develop a lifestyle of worship. Authenticity comes from the worship that spills over from your own personal worship.

“You’ll never be satisfied in your ministry if you don’t ground yourself in the Word,” Gray said. “Devotional readings are all fine, but you need that time of Bible study.”

Gray offered a tip from his own life: He chooses the songs and hymns for the church service well in advance and then each day of the week prior to Sunday, he prays the lyrics of the songs. By Sunday, he has saturated his spirit with the words the people will be singing.

3. Focus on relationships. The key to a successful ministry is developing great relationships.

“If you are struggling with people not liking you, get to know them,” he said. “Visit them in their homes.

“We aren’t in the music business; we’re in the people business,” he said, adding that it’s important to laugh and have fun.

4. Have the courage to empower your team. Be confident enough in your own abilities to empower others to do their own ministries.

“The people’s capacity to achieve is determined by the leader’s ability to empower,” he said.
“Worship ministers are … how do I say this … getting younger,” he said with a laugh. “I have to ask myself how I can stay relevant. The key, I believe, is to be faithful to what God has called me to do. You have to realize you can’t have every skill set that is needed to do the job. Bring in people around you that God has gifted.”

5. Know how to take advantage of momentum. Momentum can be a leader’s best friend. Leaders create momentum and followers catch it.

“It’s important to follow the natural ebb and flow of your ministry,” Gray said. He said that at his church, the annual Christmas pageant is huge. They work on it for more than six months. Knowing this, he chooses to alternate having another large production between Easter and the Fourth of July so this people aren’t worn out. In addition, the entire choir takes off the whole month of July. This gives people a needed break and helps them be ready to come back in August refreshed and ready to go again.

He makes it a point to write personal, handwritten notes and phone calls to his choir members and musicians, thanking them for their commitment, saying he looks forward to seeing them again, or whatever else is timely and appropriate.

6. Have a clearly defined vision for your ministry. No matter how much you learn from the past, it will never tell you all you need to know about the present. See the vision God has given you and go toward it.

Gray quoted Leroy Elms who said, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who see farther than others see, and who sees before others see.”

He listed some of the major barriers to successful planning toward a vision include fear of change, ignorance, uncertainty about the future and lack of imagination.

7. Lead your ministry to become an Acts 1:8 ministry. This Scripture says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (HCSB).

“Avoid leading your ministry to be exclusively internally focused,” he said. “Do local service projects as a choir. Go on mission trips together. Find out what God is doing and then, all together, join Him in His work.”

7 Questions To Ask Your Event Coordinator

Every group that brings a meeting, conference or retreat to Glorieta or Ridgecrest is assigned an event coordinator from our staff. The same is true for pretty much any other meeting venue as well. This person’s responsibility is to work closely with the group leader or meeting planner to ensure the best possible experience for their group.

If you’re the group leader or meeting planner, please be sure to take full advantage of all your meeting coordinator has to offer. This individual is typically someone who works with dozens, if not hundreds, of groups each year and can be a great source of knowledge and information for you. It would be major mistake not to take advantage of that experience. After all, that’s why they’re there!

With that in mind, here are 7 questions you definitely want to ask your event coordinator during the planning process:

  • How long does it take to get from one location to another on campus? – Depending on the size of the facility you’re using, this could be a significant time factor. When planning out your schedule, be sure to allow time for participants to get from location to another.
  • Where do my people go upon arrival on campus? – Telling your folks where to go once they arrive will help to eliminate a good deal of potential confusion and frustration.
  • What is there to do for free time activities, both on campus and in the surrounding area? Excellent info to share with attendees before they leave for the meeting/retreat. Allows them to plan and pack accordingly.
  • What other groups will be on campus the same time as us? – Not that you would have any say, but just knowing can help head off any potential issues before they happen.
  • What do we do in case of emergency? – At Ridgecrest and Glorieta we want people to contact us so that we know where to direct emergency personnel when they arrive on campus.
  • Can we bring in our own food for snacks/meals? – Most hotels/conference centers will not allow you to bring in your own food. If this is something you’d like to do, it never hurts to ask.
  • Can we reserve a section in the dining room for our group? – If you’re the only group on campus this is not really an issue. However, if yours is one of several groups, this is definitely something to ask about.

What about you? What are some other questions you’ve learned to ask ahead of time?

Our New Websites Are Live!

We normally don’t post promotional info on this blog, but we are so excited about our new Ridgecrest and Glorieta websites that I’ve made an exception. The sites have been under development for the past 4-6 months and a lot of thought went into trying to make them as user friendly as possible for our meeting planner audience. We tried to put ourselves in your shoes and create simple navigation to help you quickly find the information you might be looking for.

For instance, under the “Facility Rental” tab we’ve created planner personas (meeting planner, church staff, youth leader, etc.) to help you easily find the information you need, based on the type of meeting you’re planning. Under each persona we also offer contact information for all of our sales and event staff, as well as an RFP form and a PDF of our policies.

A new area of the website we think you will find very helpful, also under Facility Rental, is the “Resources” section. In this area you will find our extensive meeting planner guide, as well as a campus map and a property brochure, all in a printable PDF format. In addition, there is also a library of high resolution photos that are available for you to use to help promote your event at Ridgecrest or Glorieta.

Again, these websites were designed with you, our customer, in mind. I encourage you to take a few minutes and surf the site and then tell us what you think. In particular we’d love to hear suggestions you may have for additions to the “Resources” section.

Thanks, in advance, for your feedback!

Oops…almost forgot to mention. The sites now have new, easier to remember, URL’s. Here they are:

A Look Behind the Scenes at SBC 2010

Once again it’s that time of year. Time for the annual Southern Baptist Convention. This year we’re in Orlando, FL at one of the world’s largest convention centers. Needless to say, this place is huge and we’re only using a small part of it. Can’t imagine how large the group would have to be to use the whole thing!

As many of you know, a lot of work goes into pulling off a convention, especially one with a large trade show exhibit area. That’s certainly true with the SBC. Although the exhibit area feels a little smaller this year, it’s still pretty much a zoo during set up days. Good thing our area’s only 20’x30′. Doesn’t take nearly as long to set up as some of the braver folks!

We’re going to have a great time this year. If you’re going to be at the convention, please be sure to stop by and see us. If you’re not able to make it…here’s a little sneak peek at what we’re doing this year. Enjoy!

SBC 2010


We are pleased to announce the first winner of our quarterly email subscription give away. John and Cathy Payne, with Church of God of Prophecy, are the winners of a complinmentary two night stay at either Ridgecrest or Glorieta Conference Center!

If you would like to be in the drawing next quarter, all you have to do is subscribe to our blog via email. You can do so by entering your email address in the blank below where it says “Subscribe” (top right). That’s all there is to it. If you are already subscribed, then you do not need to do anything else. You will automatically be entered.

As always, thanks for visiting our site. We trust you found it helpful and we look forward seeing you back here soon!