converence registration deskLike most retreat centers, we know how easy it is to remain in the daily routine that your “getaway” provides.  Often, if we have achieved a certain level of success, we may choose to stay within our comfort zone of just doing what we do.

So when there is an opportunity to attend a business-related conference, we don’t always evaluate whether the time away and expense of going are worth the ROI of attending.

And while instinctively we all realize that a fresh perspective is necessary to get to another level of success, we often don’t find the energy to motivate ourselves to leave our routine and go.

Over the years, however, I have learned that when I focus on the following specific goals, I achieve both a more productive conference experience:

  1. LEARN: Stay up to date on current industry/marketing practices and opportunities Tip:  A week before the conference, research the speakers/presenters.  If you can make a connection after reading the biographies (use LinkedIn), then reach out to them before, during and/or after the conference.  Often they can visit your location and then become a great source for referrals.
  2. CONNECT:  Strengthen past partners and locate new partners Tip:  When you receive the list of attendees, pick the top 10 people you want to speak with personally.  Find out what they are doing and share what you have learned.  Most people are more open to discuss business in a relaxed conference environment than when back in their office.  Follow up on the first day of your return from the conference with the contacts you have made or renewed.
  3. EXPOSURE: Increase market reach through introducing yourself and building on current networks
    Tip:  Make sure your center’s logo is visible on your clothes and personal items (water bottle, pens, etc.  If you have a unique product or service, offer it as a raffle or auction item.  If there is an award ceremony – enter in any and all appropriate categories.*
  4. ACTION- Bring back ideas and steps that can be implemented immediately to improve success at your retreat center Tip: During the conference, when you hear an idea or opportunity that sounds promising, write it down.  On the last day sort, through your notes and develop a list of the top 5 actionable items.  Do them in the first three days you are back at your retreat center.

*On one final note:  I encourage you to avoid making it all about you or your organization.  Have fun and make actual friends.  Remember that the best parts of your job are the relationships you make and the experiences you have.  Leads and opportunities can come in unexpected places and ways.  Be open to the adventure!

Feel free to let me know how it goes after your next conference.  I would love to hear from you.

*One thing that participating with Retreat Central has taught us is if there is an opportunity to enter a contest, go for it!  Our first targeted social media campaign promoted our vying for the win in their Best Pool competition.  The campaign allowed us to not only increase exposure to a much larger audience but also to convert that success into our first ever state tourism award at the annual conference!

Best Retreat Center Pool Award Seal
About the guest author: Jonathan Bellingham is a 3rd generation family owner/manager with 30 years’ experience in the hospitality business serving as recreation and marketing manager of their 19th-century award winning WV mountain resort/retreat center: Capon Springs & Farms.

He is also a certified reflexologist and avid player of the latest recreation craze – FlingGolf.  When he is not taking care of the family business, he enjoys a night out with his wife, visiting his son at the Air Force Academy or watching his daughter perform at community theaters.

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