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    Know where you're going before you start.

    Having a game plan in place before event preparations begin will help you to feel focused, prepared, and even capable of troubleshooting. Before signing a venue contract or sending an invitation to a guest speaker, start your planning process by identifying your event's goals, constraints, planning team, partners, and tasks.

    Even if you have experience planning group retreats, events, or conferences, there are always ways to improve the process. 

    Identify goals

    Identify both tangible (measurable) and intangible (immeasurable) goals. Tangible goals might be to increase social media chatter by 40%, attract at least 400 attendees, or raise $10,000; intangible goals might include raising awareness, educating for a new initiative, recruiting volunteers, or rededicating lives to Christ. When creating goals, be as specific as possible. Goals create focus, drive discipline, and often lead to effective and efficient time management. 

    Identify constraints

    Constraints are boundaries that you and your team must operate within. Constraints could be time, budget, or non-monetary resources. When you know your constraints early in the game, you can adapt accordingly by being more creative, fundraising the difference, or changing the event itself (i.e. hosting a two-night event instead of a week-long conference).

    Identify planning team and partners

    Whether your team was assembled for you or you had the luxury of hand-picking your dream team, it's important to know who's at the table and what resources and talents they can contribute.

    Are there organizations that you could partner with or call on for sponsorships to defray the costs? If so, identify them early on. When others are involved with your event, they feel a sense of ownership which often leads to a long-term partnership or greater generosity. Partners could be identified as sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, etc.

    Identify tasks

    Intimidating undertakings - like securing the venue - can be broken down into bite-size tasks that are manageable. When reviewing all that needs to be done, list out all your big tasks first, assign deadlines to each, and then break those big tasks out into the individual steps it takes to accomplish them.

    For example, when it comes to securing a venue, the steps to accomplishing this task might look like this.

    - Research the venues in your target region; choose 3-5 that most interest you. 
    - Schedule a site visit to the 3-5 venues selected.
    - Create a list of questions to ask venue representative during the site visit. 
    - Review venue contracts with the planning team.
    - Sign venue contract & submit down payment.

    Consider using Trello for building out and keeping track of your event planning tasks.

    Here's a helpful tip. When setting deadlines, work backwards. Here’s a simple example of backwards planning for securing event speakers.

    - Event date: Oct. 3
    - Finish selling tickets one week before the event: Sept. 26
    - Announce all speakers three months before ticket sales close: June 25
    - Book all speakers six months before announcing them: Dec. 20
    - Contact and book potential speakers two months before signing them: Oct. 20

    Book your event now!

    If you're ready to book an event, or just want to talk through the benefits of hosting a future event at Sandy Cove, connect with one of our Group Sales Consultants by calling (800) 234-2683 or sending an email to Don't forget to ask about a site visit, so that you can experience the ministry and blessings of Sandy Cove first hand.

    Click here to get more info about bringing your group to Sandy Cove.

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