Small Market Meetings

APR 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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April 2017 11 Reaching the Religious the Religious Reaching Courtesy Jim Cullumber Faith-based groups often use circular seating to create more intimacy in small sessions or breakouts. P lanning religious meetings often requires more attention to detail than the typical event; planners must often consider fac- tors such as dietary restrictions, tight budgeting and family travel. To understand some of the ways that planners can engage more effectively with this market, we spoke with three faith-based meetings experts. Robin Ware organizes meetings and events through the dReam Center Church in Marietta, Georgia, and has over 25 years of experi- ence in planning, sales and hotel service. Jim Cullumber serves as the vice president of communications at the Christian Church Foundation in Indianapolis. And in addition to planning meetings, Rachel Eble has more than 15 years of experience in sales, catering and hotel service. She is now a senior account manager at Arrowhead Conferences and Events in Redlands, California. Cater to Cultural Sensitivities Every faith-based group has different habits and values that affect the planning process, from serving fish on Fridays during the season of Lent for Catholic organizations to avoiding pork or shellfish for the Jewish community. It is crucial for planners to become acquainted with these needs. "It's really important that you understand the dynamics of that reli- gious faith so that you don't offend," said Ware. "For instance, we would never suggest planning a meeting during Holy Season." Often, any special requirements or dietary needs are outlined in the request for proposal, though it would be prudent to clarify these with your client just in case, especially during religious seasons and holi- days when many people fast. Another way to learn more about a particular group's background is to become involved with local religious organizations as well as indus- try conferences, where planners can be educated on the nuances of working with the religious market. Be Flexible on Dates and Locations To avoid competing with the corporate market and maintain an affordable budget, religious planners must be willing to compromise when it comes to narrowing down the time and place of their meeting. "Flexibility is key for groups getting what they need at the price point they need," said Eble. Instead of choosing a destination first, planners can ensure attendees By Savannah Osbourn Veteran planners share tips for attracting and executing faith-based meetings

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