Lately it seems like there are a lot of statements running through the industry about faith-based events that seem to be based in misconceptions. Here are some of the most common issues that I address:
“As a faith-based planner I have a small budget.”
Honestly, I think that most events and planners watch their budgets. Many planners tell me that their attendees pay their own way to the event so every dollar matters. Planners from non-profit organizations, associations and many faith-based groups all deal with this situation. I advise our hotels and venues to look at the entire budget – not what is initially laid out. There are times when you, the planner, will say that you must add in a tour, a corporate social responsibility activity, or a meal event, and the budget for that is XX more. By looking at the entire event we may be surprised at what the budget actually can be. Let’s be creative!
“Faith-based events are small in attendance.”
Any group has the potential to be small but by the same token they have room for growth. One of the largest non-sporting events in our area was a faith-based event for women at Matthew Knight Arena. It also happened to take place during the same time as the University of Oregon’s Spring Football game, the dedication of our Nobel Peace Prize Garden, and the preparation for a marathon the next day. I believe that when I show you how hard I am willing to work with you, to assist you in finding parking, housing, and transportation, and basically walk with you throughout the entire event that we can locate ways to maximize your attendance. We saw an increase in attendance to that faith-based event, and I can assure you that part of the increase was due to our attention to the details.
“I’m new to planning and need to learn everything.”
The common assumption is that faith-based planners don’t know what they are doing – they are always changing and there’s no consistency. While it is true that some faith-based groups have new planners each year or term, many other faith-based groups have tenured planners who are very knowledgeable about what they need and want. I don’t see a difference in medical, military, or faith-based planners. Each one has an event to prepare for and produce and they are all looking for the same end goal – to create an event that allows your goals to be met, while staying on budget. In addition, you want some sizzle and some pop to make the event unique and that’s my opportunity to share with you and to help you shine.
“Faith-based events generate no revenue for the venue.”
I like to remind my venues that they know what they need to generate revenue. While some groups may not want concessions during the event, perhaps there’s something that can be added to make up for those missing dollars. Some faith-based groups do not serve alcohol while others do, so we cannot assume a group's preference. It’s the assumptions that our industry works under that remove the potential for revenue. I encourage my venues to have candid conversations with you, the planner. Talk about what you like and don’t like as well as things that the venue should avoid. Then they can explore other options for revenue producing opportunities. This is also a time for CVBs to dig into our wealth of knowledge and bring those suggestions to the table. One of my groups did not want alcohol available at their event, but they thought that creating to-go lunches with snappy names would draw their attendees. With a little thought, we were able to increase their food and beverage budget to support this idea.
In summary, we all just need to communicate more. As the CVB representative there’s so much that we can offer to not only you the planner, but also your attendees. When I am comfortable recommending something I also try to share my own experience with it. You might be surprised at the attention this brings to suggestions. Basically, people just want to create meaningful memories and to broaden their experiences when traveling.