Theme your Women’s retreat
Review the event’s purpose, goals, and audience with your event committee. Ask yourselves what you want attendees to think or feel as they leave the event. In other words, what is the one big idea or key call to action that you want them to remember or act on?
Run with your theme
Once your theme is decided, focus on incorporating it into all aspects of your planning. You can do that by:
- Choose a color scheme.
- Create an event logo.
- Pull together the color scheme, logo, and tagline into your social media and marketing materials; invitations, posters, event programs, event signage, name tags, emails…
- Decorate the podium/speakers area according to the theme.
- Make sure your keynote speaker and all other presenters know your theme and tagline.
- Create a uniform powerpoint template for the keynote speaker and any other presenters to use.
- Plan theme-based special activities or entertainment (e.g. trivia with themed questions, themed meal & snacks, music).
- Put a themed welcome bag in each attendee’s room.
- Outfit your event staff with shirts that carry your logo.
Snacks that match your theme
Most retreat centres provide snacks for those attending group events such as fresh fruit or cookies. But what about taking it up a notch? For those that want to make those snacks extra special use your theme colors to make a themed snack during your biggest evening celebration time!
- Orange bell peppers.
- Apricot pie with granola crust
- Pumpkin Pie.
- Peach pie.
- Orange slice candies.
- Yellow bell pepper.
- Yellow apples.
- Lemon pudding
- Strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, watermelon
- Red bell pepper.
- Red licorice.
- Candy canes.
- Pink grapefruit.
- Pink lemonade.
- Strawberry milk.
- Pink Jell-O.
- Fresh strawberry cupcakes.
- Green cupcakes.
- Green popcorn.
- Blueberry popsicles.
- Crispy rice-cereal treats.
- Coconut-covered snowball cake
- Coconut cream pie.
- Vanilla ice cream.
- White frosting on cupcakes, cookies, cake.
Decorating for your Women’s Retreat
Another great way to get your theme colors and ideas flowing is in decorating your meeting rooms and/or dining room. Get the parts of your team that attract to the creative and detailed side of things to start putting items together. Some ideas are:
- Table settings
- Name cards in the dining area
- Registration Table
- Door Hangers for the guest rooms
- Gift bags
Take a look at holiday calendars, school calendars, and community calendars and look for any conflicts with the dates you have in mind. If you don’t check this carefully you might find yourself competing with other similar events and affect your turn-out by up to 50% lower than you were hoping.
Social Media and Marketing
Create a women’s retreat that resonates
Create an event where people want to go, not have to go. When putting your event up on Social Media or in a Newsletter we can come across as begging for people to attend. That type of communication creates a lot of challenges and does not induce people to bring their friends or tell those around them about your great event. A much more effective way putting together cutoff dates and numbers. As people sign-up communicate that X spots are now left and create a sense of urgency. Always promote what the excitement is all about and why they need to be there.
Your event needs to echo value that attendees identify with
How well do you know your audience? What are they expecting at an event like this one? The best way to find this out is to ask potential attendees. Do your research and plan something that will create a buzz in your particular people group. Make something not just great in your eyes, but in the eyes of those potentially coming.
Build a story
The most effective way to draw people into your event is through storytelling. Having testimonies either written or ideally on social media video can be a very powerful tool in the hands of a storyteller. If this is the first event of it’s kind and you don’t have testimonies to draw from use, create a story that mirrors your event. Either way, you want to use the age-old tool of storytelling to catch the attention of your audience. They will retain the information longer and adds a dose of humanity that allows your potential attendees to connect.
If you are not familiar with the 5 key points in every good story I recommend checking out this short article.
Enlarge your invitation
If your attendance looks like you have room for more, consider inviting other people groups similar to your own. Depending on what your group is all about, this might mean inviting another church, art community or hiking club to join in with you. It’s not uncommon to see two communities joined together in my day job as a gm of a retreat centre. The most important part of this idea is reaching out early. A last minute invite to anything is always difficult, so if you are thinking about having others join in, start early.
Early bird offers
Want to kick your women’s retreat registration off with a bit of bang? Offer tiered registration with a 20% discount for those that register by a certain date. Having both an early registration and a regular registration is a productive way to getting people talking and taking action. If you decide to go this route make sure to meet all your costs with the early bird registration just in case 80% of the attendees decide suddenly to all register early.
Use your event to bridge generations
If there is a segment of your event that appeals to one generational group over another, incorporate creative ways to engage the other demographic. Instead of doing it the way it’s always been done, integrate a mix of session styles so that each segment in your audience feels like they can connect.
Understanding the different communication styles is key to crossing generational lines at your event. Older attendees tend to value formal face-to-face interactions, whereas Millennials have forged a new path of social interaction that is more casual, instant and digital. At your next women’s retreat, try unifying your audience by coordinating a mentorship program in advance. Building mentoring moments into your program to reach even deeper into the younger generation. Pair your seasoned leadership with those just coming of age to encourage an intermingling that would otherwise never happen.
How many sessions and workshops?
If your retreat starts on a Friday evening and runs until Sunday after lunch is fairly common to see a total combination of 5 workshops or sessions. Try to leave some time for rest as well as building real connections with those in the group. If you want to give a bit more free time you can always make one of the workshops optional. That makes flextime available for those that are looking for it, without feeling they left out an important part of the retreat.
Draws and gifts
Everyone enjoys giveaways, even those who are in leadership. Requiring people to be present to win is a great way of having everyone show up on time for the next session. Consider giving away a new book, gift card or something that hold value. Whatever you decide to give, make sure it’s not something that will end of being donated to the thrift store right after the event.
As we talked about earlier in this article, we need to measure how well your women’s retreat goals were met. Budget time in the schedule to get these properly filled out. If you expect people to fill these out between sessions or in their free time you will get less thought put into the answers. Once collected, take them home with you are review them a different day. After a team event members are usually exhausted and any negative feedback might be more painful than it should.
It’s the small details
Registration greeters are a great way to have each participant enter the start of their women’s retreat. Driving up and finding 3 ladies waiting on you with a nice bottle of ice lemonade and a small gift bag filled with homemade cookies sets the tone immediately. Excitement is contagious and breaking people out of their ruts is one of the first things you want to accomplish in your retreat.
Nametags with schedules
Placing your schedule on the back of name tags kills two birds with one stone. Having name tags helps take the awkwardness when meeting new people. Placing an outline of the weekend or weeks events will answer a lot of initial questions and will help people being timely. Placing the schedule on the back of their nametags will help eliminate people losing their agendas or people mistakenly using someone else’s retreat schedule as their own.
Depending on the age of your group and the number of participants you make have some people attending your women’s retreat that struggle with walking or chronic pain. Often people that struggle in these areas may tire quickly and need main floor rooms and access to special meal considerations. When you encounter people with special needs remember to be kind and patient. Make special accommodation for them where you can and even your smallest efforts will be noticed.
After your Women’s retreat has ended
Handing out small inexpensive (almost free) mementos
Consider giving out a tangible token to each attendee of a reminder of what they accomplished during their women’s retreat. It can be as simple as a scrap of fabric and a thank you note, a simply painted rock with your theme colors, a laminated bookmark or anything else that fits with your retreats theme.
Sending out thank you cards to your team
The average person receives a plethora of emails every day and printed junk mail to their door. An old-fashioned handwritten note or simple homemade card cuts through all that clutter in an instant. Adding value to people is what retreats are all about, so take the time to express gratitude to the team that speaks to the heart. Gratitude is a great way of expressing thanks and will plan a seed for good things to grow.
Keep in touch
During the retreat consider posting up a large art paper on a common wall. Bring painters tape so you don’t get any pushback from your hosting facility. Label this paper as a connection board and have people attending the retreat optionally put there twitter handles, email or other points of contact. Consider making coffee invites to those you really connected with. Take a moment and ask yourself “Did I meet anyone at this retreat that I would really like to get to know better?”.
How to build a team
If you’ve loved this article and are interested in learning how to create a retreat that knocks it out of the park, check out the WildernessEdge Framework.