By Ariel M. Weinshanker
Hosting a retreat for your social meetup group, fitness clan, club or religious community can be a simple 10 step process, when you leave the work to Vosant Meetings & Travel!
1. Connect with us! Share your vision and any details you have considered or decided upon. If you are unsure of your attendees’ interest level and budget preferences, Vosant Meetings & Travel can arrange a custom online survey that you just have to forward to your members and friends.
We can even provide space for anyone who has their own feedback for the ideal retreat. It will be up to the decision maker to choose if the comments will be incorporated.
2. Once we have an idea of the event, including the general location or location attributes, budget or cost range and estimated number of guests, you can relax! Vosant Meetings & Travel will source Hotel and Venue options for your one-of-a-kind retreat.
We will hone in on options that are in line with your Vision. If you have members coming from all over the world, we will focus on destinations that are near major airport Hubs. If your attendees love a certain type of fitness equipment, we can seek out locations with such machines on site, or those which can accommodate bringing in such gear at the group’s expense. And if your guests follow strict dietary guidelines, we can focus on places that can accommodate such needs. Just let us know and we will include it in your Vision board.
3. After Hotel(s) and/or Venues have been sourced, we will arrange your options and assist you in selecting the top three destinations that can execute your vision. We can even compile colorful details for you to share the top three options with your planning committee or Executive decision maker.
4. Once a site has been selected, it will be time for us to contract your preferred accommodations, meals, transportation and activities. Any other components will be compiled to calculate the total cost of attendance per guest. This will be one of the last times to decide on any special surprises the group would like to include in the event budget.
5. If your event website, with countdown clock, has not already debuted, it will be. This site is customizable with your group’s preferred colors, logos and verbiage, allowing us to share all the details with your attendees.
6. Vosant Meetings and Travel will create a timeline of events with you and/or any applicable planning committee member(s). This will include scheduled personalized emails for your guests. Again, all executed by Vosant Meetings & Travel on your behalf.
7. The custom event website will be updated and become bookable for your attendees. When signing up for the weekend, they will be asked for their preferences, allergies and if applicable, clothing size. If you have offered your attendees options or sessions, they will be able to select them at this time as well.
8. Any custom apparel that has not yet been designed, will be in advance of ordering. Many Reunion type groups opt to engage attendees by asking them to design apparel as part of a competition.
9. In the weeks leading up to the event, attendees will be given access to your customized mobile application and receive the pre-coordinated event emails getting them ready.
10. Vosant Meetings & Travel will work with the destination hosts and other vendors to ensure a seamless coordinated event for you and your attendees. While allowing you to take credit and enjoy an incredible retreat!
By: Ariel M. Weinshanker
Image taken by Ariel M. Weinshanker.
What's the difference between an average Trip and a Bespoke Experience? Customization! And what's Key to executing customization for discerning Individuals and high-end Groups? Preparation!
TLDR: Allergies, Loyalty Club Numbers, Preferences & Headshots
Just like every organization has its quirks, guests attending a Meeting, Program or Event may come with their own set of unique needs. It is key to capture these attributes at the very beginning of the confirmation process in order to share these notes with your Hotels, Airlines and other applicable Vendors.
When collecting details for a new guest you have not worked with in the past, consider arranging a secure, online Survey, requiring responses for each question. Surveys often give the creator a spreadsheet report and an individual response view. For returning guests, be sure to contact them to confirm their information is still accurate. We have included a sample questionnaire at the bottom of this blog post, to get you started.
Don't wait until confirming final headcounts to ask guests if they are Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free and/or require Kosher or Halal meals. Ask when confirming their attendance and share with the venue or program host, as soon as possible. While most professional venues-and Event Hosts- are equipped to jump in with an alternative at the last minute, they will appreciate being notified well in advance to prepare comparable options. Planning an event can be stressful, try to focus on being organized from the start.
I once had a client who informed us of a Gluten-Free guest a day before arrival, when all attendees were set to receive Welcome chocolates. Our team on-site had already set aside the chocolates. While it appeared that we were able to easily execute a Gluten-Free alternative for the guest, it became a mad dash. Had it been a custom designed pastry, procuring a comparable welcome gift may have been difficult.
Loyalty Club Numbers
Even if your Hotel or Air bookings will not yield points or loyalty club benefits to individuals-it is likely you will be asked to provide these details to your Hotel or Airline.
Why should you ask if they will not earn points or other value adds?
(1) Most Loyalty Club Numbers attach to custom guest preferences-set by the User- that hotels and airlines can arrange in advance.
(2) Bookings connected with a Loyalty Club Number can provide access to custom mobile applications, such as a Hotel’s Keyless Entry, Virtual Concierge and/or Text alerts.
Just like Allergies, it is imperative to ask guests about their preferences when confirming their attendance. Beyond food preferences-often mixed in with allergies-don't forget to ask about Airline Seat and Hotel preferences.
When it comes to Hotel preferences, it is a good idea to reconfirm with the hotel what is actionable given the rooms you have contracted. For instance, be careful how you prompt guests for their preferred bedding type or view, if you have contracted Run-of-House rooms.
If your event is longer than one day and/or includes accommodations, secure Headshots of your attendees. And if you are hosting a high-end event, consider including headshots of your attendees, along with VIPs and Speakers.
Imagine attending a Sales Incentive for the top 20 Associates of your company. How would it make you feel, if as you departed the car from the airport the bellman opened the door and was able to greet you by name, without being prompted? Talk about a WOW!
Bonus: If a hotel is small enough or has enough staff and you can (1) provide flight times to the host Hotel (2) provide the drivers of your airport transportation a number for the hotel’s guest relations team. (3) The Hotel can often work together with your transportation vendor to coordinate a personalized welcome.
ProTrip: By preparing Headshots with names and tiles of your attendees in advance, Event organizers and Hosts, can easily locate specific guests in the crowd.
Ready to start planning?
Click for a copy of our Guest Checklist or reach out to us directly to handle the details.
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