The critical difference between a successful turnout and an average one is – PROMOTION! There are three ways you can take action to promote a retreat. And believe it or not, they won’t break the bank!
Plan ahead. This is key to success. Depending on the building you choose, you may need to reserve a location six months to a year in advance to guarantee the preferred dates for your group. The people in your group need to know when and where the next getaway is, so they can begin considering the cost, time, and benefits of attending. As soon as you know the time and place, let as many people know as you can. Use the ‘grapevine’ to your advantage. Planning ahead also gives you and your committee time to set goals and confirm a speaker. ALWAYS form a committee and delegate; it not only helps you keep sanity, but it gives you the ‘people power’ needed to accomplish your goals.
Use promotional materials. CBCC has a variety of ways we can help you promote your retreat; including brochures, DVDs, and our web site (www.cbcc.net) Our website is easily accessible and has a great deal of information available. Last but not least, our brochures give guests a good ‘feel’ of what the Cannon Beach area looks like, along with the conference center. Don’t hesitate to ask your friendly Retreats Department for any promotional materials! Also, don’t underestimate your own or others in your group’s personal impression of their time spent here at CBCC. Sometimes, just a little chat can make all the difference!
Word of mouth. This is your best advertisement for a retreat. Let those who had a wonderful experience at the last retreat advertise for you. They will spur interest and encourage others to attend the next retreat. You may want a couple of people to give a testimony of their retreat experience at the first group meeting or the first time you announce the retreat at church, staff meeting, etc. Friends help friends to go to retreats! The most effective promotion for your retreat will be a positive personal invitation from a friend.
Printed information and announcements at church will also be helpful. Make sure specific information is given in the promotional material:
- Purpose of the retreat
- Schedule of events
- Description of the facility
- Clothing to bring
- Program being offered
Build enthusiasm: if they miss out on this retreat, they will be missing out on the event of the year! Your #1 seller will be a retreat guest who is happy about their experience last year.
Some groups find that it’s fun to give out ‘memory’ gifts at the retreat as well: favors (such as chocolate or mints on the pillow, flowers on the table), gifts, pins, shirts, etc. Get creative!
Show how needs will be met. Among many are renewal of relationships, both inter – personal and with the Lord; fun fellowship, relaxation, and personal time.
Draw a visual picture: get together brochures, slides, videos, photos from past retreats, and skits. People are more apt to remember what they see.
Last but definitely not least, pray!! It is God’s retreat, and He will bring the people He wants there.
What are your obstacles to retreat attendance? Every group faces obstacles, so we asked several group leaders to tell us their main challenges and how they overcame them.
Cost. Promote early so people can save money. Ask for a higher deposit or a series of deposits so the balance due is less. Compare the cost of your retreat to comparable weekend vacations (including both lodging and meals). Be careful in pricing; allow for extra costs, but limit them. Plan ahead so the church budget can help fund the retreat: scholarships, speakers, and retreat committee. Take a special offering just for the retreat. Get creative with fundraisers – spaghetti dinners, car washes, bake sales, etc.
Misconceptions. “It’s just not for me!” Some people have the idea that retreats are only for certain groups of people. The young folks might think they are only for the old folks, and the old folks might think they are only for the young folks! A lot of this idea might spring from the fact that they have never attended a retreat before and don’t really know what to expect. Assure first – timers that there definitely will be other first time guests present, and this will be a great time to make new friends. It’s also fun to do something special just for the first timers. One recent men’s group bought ice cream gift certificates to the Coach House for all their new members, and assigned one ‘retreat veteran’ to accompany each ‘retreat rookie’. It turned out to be a great idea!!
Plan a program that will meet the broad needs of the group, and ask the speaker to work within your goals. If you have a lot of different kinds of people represented in your group, have representatives from each type of group on your retreat committee. There are many other areas that may present conflicts for retreat attendance. If you are struggling with something, we would be happy to help you find a solution!