Tips to improve your Retreat Planning.
Here are some great tips to help plan your retreat.
#1 Have a clear purpose for your retreat.
We have worked with many retreats and conference groups over the years and it was evident which ones had a clear purpose in mind. Budget, group size, and fancy equipment are less important than “WHY” you are having this retreat in the first place. Your purpose determines your desired outcomes and your desired outcomes should determine your activities. Know your purpose first and the other pieces will fall into place.
#2 Be mindful of the calendar.
“When” could be the next most important thing to consider when it comes to your retreat. Retreats are happening all year – you may be thinking of a fall leadership meeting, or a family-oriented summer conference, or possibly a spring men’s retreat – but it’s important to remember each season has it’s own idiosyncrasies, opportunities, and restrictions.
Summer Retreat: There is so much to do in the summer: swimming, sand castles, boat rides, and more, which is why retreats and conferences are particularly popular during these times. Start your search for retreat centers a year in advance as most prime calendar spots will be snatched up quickly. This also is true for the people attending the retreat… they will need extra time to plan around family vacations and other summer activities.
Winter Retreats: Looking to enjoy the winter wonderland with your group? Don’t put off booking. Winter is the second most popular time to book. With tubing, toboggans, fire-side chats, year-end meetings or new year planning… our winter season is busy! Give yourself at least 8-12 months of planning and booking time.
Fall Retreats: Fall is a beautiful time to get away and still offers a lot of recreation. On average you should be booking your fall retreat at least 6-8 months ahead of time. Remember, people are adjusting to a new year of school and getting into their routine. Give them plenty of time to plan.
Spring Retreats: Spring is when the flowers are blooming and the sun is finally starting to shine on our grounds again, which provides a great backdrop for your retreat. This time of year tends to be the least busy, but don’t wait too long. Most Spring conferences are booked at least 6 months ahead of time.
Retreats are powerful. Start your planning early and give yourself the right amount of time for your time of year.
#3 Base your group number on past retreats.
Most, if not all, retreat and conference facilities require a minimum of guaranteed guests. Set realistic expectations for your group size when agreeing to a minimum. If your goal is 250 attendees but you have historically only had 30 attend in prior years, set yourself up for success by setting attainable growth goals. This will help you reach organizational goals while not exposing your group to unnecessary expense.
#4 Put in the time and research.
It is important that you do not just rely on what you see on a conference center’s website. Seeking recommendations for a retreat center from someone you trust is always a good starting point, but physically going and seeing the facility for yourself will give you peace of mind in the final decision process.
Things to Consider:
- Schedule your visit at least a week in advance. We strongly discourage walk-ins because our staff or facilities might not be available.
- Try to schedule your appointment during the week. Our staff is usually extremely busy during the weekend and might not be able to give you the proper attention you deserve.
- If you are going to visit multiple sites, make sure that you allow for enough traveling time between facilities. If you end up staying longer at another site, be courteous and call the next site to let them know if you are running late.
- Try to limit those going on the tour to 2-4 key leaders.
- Come up with a list of questions ahead of time, such as: Are there added costs? Do you provide AV equipment? Etc.
- Bring a camera to help remember the various sites. Take pictures of housing options, meeting rooms, the dining room and recreation options.
- Try to interact with as many staff as you can. This will help you get a feel for how they will respond to your needs if you were to book with them.
- After your visit, do a quick review of each site as you drive home (strengths and weaknesses). This will help solidify the experience in your mind and help to organize your thoughts for when you debrief with other leaders later.
- Finally, pray that God will give you wisdom to make the best choice for your group.
Planning a retreat? Inquire today. We have a committed team ready to serve your needs.