By Kayla Crawford
There are so many components that go into planning an event. One of the most important is where to host it. There are a multitude of venues all over the country that are perfect for overnight retreats.
However, choosing one is not easy. Nothing sours an event quicker than hearing “I wanna go home” or “That’s not what was on the flyer.”
So, here’s a list of questions to ask the venue before booking:
- What event types do you host?
This is the most important question! Some venues cater specifically to certain types of groups. For example, a youth venue may be unwilling to host a men’s retreat. Likewise, some venues do not host kid camps or events.
Also, it is important to make sure what type of accommodations they have. Specifically geared venues may not have everything your event/group needs.
- How many people can you accommodate?
Big groups can have trouble finding a place to fit everybody. See what size groups the venue can host during day events and for lodging. Some may have fewer beds than what they can host during the day.
This is also the time to find out about rooming options. Generally, bigger groups are put in dorm-style lodging with rooms that hold around 10 people. Remember that some venues may also have a minimum attendance policy.
- Do you host multiple groups at once or is it exclusive?
It is important to know about other groups on the grounds, especially when it comes to scheduling times and room assignments. A small, quiet ladies retreat may not want to be staying at the same time as a large kid’s camp.
- Are packages all-inclusive and, if so, what does that entail?
Many retreat centers provide all-inclusive packages that make booking a lot easier. All Christian Retreats Network properties include lodging, dining, recreation and meeting space.
Also find out now what will be extra. No one wants to get there and learn that something they want to do has to be paid for separately.
- What type of recreation do you offer?
Retreats are meant to be fun. Make sure the venue has recreation for your group. Most will have some sort of outdoor fields or a gym.
For groups looking for tons of fun, ask about pools, beachfront, zip lines and team building. Bringing some game ideas is fine, but it will be so much easier for planners when the venue already has games for guests to play.
- What is your payment policy?
Money and budgeting is the most crucial part of event planning. Find out if there is a deposit due in advance, and if so, how far in advance it is due and how much it will be.
This is important when budgeting, so that planners know how much money they have to have beforehand. It is important to also find out about deposit returns and cancellation policies.
- Can I change parts of my reservation after it is made?
No matter how hard you try, there will be people that cancel. This leads to room changes and new guest counts. It is important to know how and by when changes to reservations must be made.
- What is dining like?
Find out if the venue prepares food and for which meals. If you are looking to bring your own food, ask about where you can prepare it. Is it buffet or banquet style dining? Make sure they are aware of dietary restrictions and are able to accommodate them.
- Are there any specific conduct policies?
Certain properties or areas have specific laws and ordinances that must be adhered to. Examples include smoking, pets, curfew, and noise level.
As the planning continues, the question list will keep growing. However, this is a great place to start.
Asking these questions can ensure that your group finds the right place well before the event.
Kayla Crawford is content marketing coordinator for Christian Retreats Network, www.christianretreatsnetwork.org. Christian Retreats Network is your partner in effective off-site ministry. With eight locations spread throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, their goal is to provide excellent and guest services at all properties while maintaining affordable rates for their guests.