10 Tips To Planning A Successful Event
1. START PLANNING EARLY!
We can not say this enough! We recommend making reservations between six months and one year in advance. Involve some of the proposed participants in setting goals and planning activities. Youth, families, officers, teachers, singles, couples, etc. know their own needs and can be your best recruiters. This not only ensures you will have availability it will also help those attending set their calendars and be prepared. Select your first, second, and even third choice of dates.
2. IDENTIFY YOUR PURPOSE
Why is this event important? What issues or subjects will be addressed during the retreat? What will be gained by attending the retreat? What do we hope to accomplish be having this event?
3. PLANNING ACTIVITIES
Schedule activities that fit the purpose. We offer a wide range of recreational, educational, and just plain fun activities. Please make sure to reserve these with our office as they must be scheduled in advance. If improving cooperation and communication are objectives, you may want to arrange some time on our challenge and ropes course. Swimming, kayaking, canoeing, educational classes, archery, zip line, high ropes course etc. are all activities we can provide.
4. KNOWING THE FACILITIES
Visit the site with some of the planning team. The setting will help you be creative and give you an idea of transition time that should be scheduled in between activities. One of the John Knox Center staff will be happy to give you a tour and brainstorm program ideas with you. This is also a great time to take photos and connect with us face to face.
Set a realistic goal for number of participants. This will help reserve accommodations and meeting space.
Budget carefully. Your budget should include such items as:
Overnight cost, food, and other services and programs.
Honorarium, expenses for outside leadership and program supplies.
Give-a-ways. (Some groups give special t-shirts as mementos of the retreat.)
Add 10% for unexpected expenses or for deposit money for the next retreat.
Set fees accordingly.
Determine and communicate your policies about refunds and cancellations to your participants.
Determine your policy about scholarships.
Promote the event by direct communication with the people who will benefit from attending. Well in advance:
Line up people to call and invite potential participants.
Send a Save-the-Date card, immediately after your dates are confirmed.
Hand out and mail out invitations with application forms.
Go digital with social media, create a facebook event and send e-vites.
Recruit marginal members or non-members to draw them into the full life of the church, group, or organization.
Prepare a fun promotional skit for an assembly, church supper, or worship.
Announce the retreat each Sunday or group meeting until all spaces are full.
Do not cancel because of low registrations. Have the retreat with the small number and make sure they have the time of their lives. They will come back so excited everyone will wish they had been there.
Start gathering resources early and continue right up to the event. There will likely be surprises during the retreat so plan to be flexible but don't lose sight of the goals. Invite members of your group or organization to play music, lead a devotion, etc to give ownership in the event to more people.
Be creative with your programs but maintain some traditions which are meaningful to all participants.
Prepare an evaluation process. How well were goals met? What was especially meaningful? What could be done better next time? Start planning for the next retreat for this group, perhaps even make reservations before you leave.