7 Steps to Better Returns on Investment

I read a great article dealing with the return-on-investment (ROI) in the meetings industry.  ROI is not a new term but it is a term getting a new focus by meeting planners and suppliers in the wake of the recession.  The article highlighted these 7 steps to better returns.

1.  Site selection is more important than ever with emphasis on more local resources including community volunteer programs, eco-tourism and experiential activities.

2.  Stability and service are driving change in relationship loyalty.  Brand may surpass location in hotel selection as planners look to simplify the process and ensure consistent delivery.  Expect a high-level of service at every interaction – pre-stay, stay and post-stay.

3.  Technology, especially social media, will be used more to build out attendance and communicate with attendees.  More and more planners are going paperless so free wireless connections are growing in importance.

4.  Shorter events are on some agendas with four day annual meetings becoming two-day or three-day events, saving time and money.

5.  Outsourcing is growing as the demands on planners increase.  Instead of focusing on just logistics, planners can work on marketing, branding, crisis management plans and program development.

6.  Meeting planners need to build their events to ensure they meet the vital objectives of learning, motivation and networking first and move away from the heavy focus on venues and destinations.

7.  Value-hunting continues with bundling of attractive options – not only as a cost-saving alternative but as a potential attendance driver as well.

Creating a Stand-out Meeting Experience

Earlier this year, I wrote an article for Christian Camp and Conference Association’s InSite magazine entitled, “A Stand-out Experience” (read article here). The purpose of the article was to provide Christian conference centers with some strategies they could use to compete with local hotels.

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At Ridgecrest and Glorieta, it’s not unusual for us to compete with a secular hotel or conference center for many of our groups. This has become especially true as we’ve added new and upgraded facilities that are equal to, and in some cases, nicer than our secular competitors. However, it’s not the nicer facilities that we believe differenitiate us from other hotels and conference centers. Here are the three things I believe set Ridgecrest and Glorieta apart from our competition and allow us the opportunity to create stand-out experiences for our groups.

Ministry Serving Ministry – Unlike our secular competitors, we are a ministry and we see our role as that of serving other ministries. Our sales and event staffs work hard to build genuine relationships with our group leaders. We want to know what their hopes and dreams are for their ministries and then look to see how we can partner with them to help achieve their ministry objectives.

Spiritual Environment – Ridgecrest and Glorieta were built for the specific purpose of helping to equip the saints. Our mission is to provide the best conference center environment for experiencing spiritual transformation and renewal. This is not to say the Holy Spirit can’t move at a secular hotel or conference center, but that’s not why they exist. Our purpose is to point people towards Christ and to provide a place where, away from the distractions of the world, people can have a fresh encounter with our Creator.

Personal Service – One of the realities of the hotel industry is the larger the hotel, the less personal the service. Even when the service is excellent (Broadmoor example), the great majority of the hotel employees will have no idea why you’re there. Again, not their focus. On the other hand, at Ridgecrest and Glorieta, we have a group of employees who pray each week for the groups and individuals scheduled to arrive that week. We work hard to communicate to all of our employees why a group is on campus and what we can do to personalize the service we offer to each group.

What about you? If you plan or go to meetings/retreats with your ministry or church, what makes them a stand-out experience?

Direct Mail Marketing

I continue to have mixed emotions on direct mail marketing, I believe it is imperative to certain audiences and not for others.  So, here are a few thoughts for enhancing your efforts when choosing to use direct mail.

1. Keep it Simple – If your creative material is too complicated to understand or difficult to read, people won’t take the time to figure it out.  Instead, they’ll toss it aside.

2.  Send to the Right People – With today’s technology you don’t have to take a shot in the dark with a zip code.  Rather, you can send mail to specific cultural, socio-economic and lifestyle demographics.

3.  Increase Frequency – Consider limiting the number of people you target so you can afford to do multiple mailings.

4.  Remember the Details – Sometimes we get so excited about what we’re sending that we forget to include the basics (website, phone number, address), not everyone your sending to knows who you are.

Why Ridgecrest and Glorieta are perfect for Spiritual Retreats

SpiritualRetreats_120x120.jpg Even though I work for LifeWay I feel compelled to share with you why I believe Ridgecrest and Glorieta to be the perfect places for Spiritual Retreats.  I get the pleasure of seeing the weekly testimonies shared with us about how these retreats have changed peoples lives.  Here are just a few quotes.

“Being at Glorieta has inspired me every time I have stayed there.  God’s beauty in creation and in the friendly faces of the staff send me off a changed person!”

“Without the intrusion of television my family and I were able to really spend quality time together as a family with the lord.  Our family grew closer together during our stay.”

“The Lord is definitely in this place!  I am still on a spiritual high and have been home for a week.”

If you choose to visit Ridgecrest or Glorieta.  I hope you will take full advantage of the many recreation opportunities and area attractions available.  But more importantly, I hope that you include in your plans to visit, time for God to work in your life.  I have always enjoyed getting up early and walking to the lake, campus is so peaceful in the mornings.  Whatever you choose to do, I know you will come away blessed.

Getting away on a spiritual retreat will transform your life, if you let it. In Matthew 6:33-34 we are told “But seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.”