Yet, all of these technical innovations will never change the fact that senior living decisions remain largely dependent on human factors that can be intensely emotional in some cases, (e.g. for assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing services). Even for healthy and active senior adults who are considering a more carefree lifestyle in independent living, leaving a home full of fond memories can be a very big step.
For all of these reasons, senior living decisions are still about trust, confidence, relationships and comfort levels, especially as families continue to ask themselves, “Am I doing the right thing?” Thus, opportunities for person-to-person interaction remain as important today as they’ve ever been – and maybe even more so as our world becomes increasingly impersonal.
Public Events Meet an Important Need
Successful senior living providers recognize that public events continue to be an important part of their census building strategy alongside their online presence, social media, sales efforts and collateral materials.
Adrienne Mansfield Straub, SageAge Strategies’ Director of Client Services, Traditional & Online Media, says, “Public events such as a community grand opening, a public open house, a Mother’s Day luncheon, a topical seminar or a donor recognition dinner are excellent tactics for building personal relationships with your key constituents, showing off your community’s assets and engendering confidence in your people, your services and your culture.”
“Public events are worth doing, and have a huge ‘upside’ for your community. But like anything else worth doing, they are worth doing right! The keys to holding a successful event are organization and planning – make that meticulous planning. As they say, ‘being organized is half the battle.’ In the case of public events, this could not be more true.”
“The fact is that public events involve myriad “moving parts” and any one of them, if not executed well, can take the luster off your big day. As a result, event planning can be very demanding and stressful. That is why so many senior living organizations request our expertise.”
Adrienne adds, “When we work with our client-partners, we use a detailed checklist approach with several key steps, each of which is key to a successful end result. Our process includes everything from defining your goals and event theme, to developing a specific action plan, to conducting a formal debriefing session – as well as everything in between.”
Some examples include:
Developing Your Budget
- Selecting your budget goal
- Tracking each expenditure
- Cross-referencing invoices to your estimates
- Confirming delivery charges, setup fees and watching for hidden costs
Managing Your Invitation and RSVP Process
- Contacting all key stakeholders before finalizing your list
- Having extra invitations on hand for last minute invites
- Cross referencing incoming RSVPs with your invitation list to call any VIPS who don’t RSVP to ensure they received invitations
- Using your RSVP list to create name badges (optional) for guests
Creating a Detailed Team Action Plan
- Scheduling a time with the entire team that will be involved – dining, hospitality, sales and marketing, administration – to walk through the full event flow
- Assigning specific action items/responsibilities to individuals to increase accountability
- Specifying the marketing and publicity plan and key “drop dates”
- Supporting speech and script writing
- Coordinating gifts and promotional giveaways
- Organizing on-site logistical support (NOTE: As is the case with any live event, you can never have too many helping hands. Be sure to assign people specific tasks so that nothing “falls through the cracks.” Also, things can happen that you don’t anticipate. For example: You have more attendees than you have chairs for; there is a computer problem in the middle of your PowerPoint presentation; you need more paper plates or cups. It’s always a good idea to have people “on the ground” to perform key tasks or to help take care of unforeseen needs as they arise).
Promoting Your Event and Optimizing Post-Event Publicity
- Scheduling your event promotion to assure the best possible attendance by your target audience
- Using both traditional, online and social media techniques (e.g. think photos and video on your Facebook page to bring your event to life), to maximize your positive publicity and overall exposure
Conducting a Post-Event Debriefing
- Meet again as a team afterward to talk through what went right, what went wrong and how you can do even better next time
Process Plus Execution Create Perfection
Likewise, other experienced event planners also preach the importance of a highly detailed process and effective execution in order to optimize your event’s success. In her article, “Tips for Successful Event Planning,” Kate Smalley says, “Event planning can turn even the most capable person into a ball of nerves. But if you’ve been selected to plan your company’s next holiday party, awards banquet or open house, relax. Helpful tips can make the process go more smoothly and successfully.”
“First, consider how you want your event to look and feel. Think about: What kind of event are you holding? Who will attend? What is the reason for the event or celebration? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you have specific goals or outcomes that you expect? Keep in mind that your event should generate goodwill, excitement and enthusiasm about your company. You should use it to grow your business and as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with employees and your clients and customers.”
Remember, public events are ideal for introducing area families, prospects, referral sources and public “opinion leaders” to your community in a very personalized way that enables you to build the trust, confidence and assurance they are seeking.
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you have comments or questions on the value of public events as a means of directly engaging area prospects, families and sources of influence, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in these areas, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Results-Based Event Planning and PR Help Your Community Grow
If you’re looking for assistance in developing an effective event strategy and public relations initiative, our award-winning team excels in this area. Our services include a “soup to nuts” planning and implementation process as well as on-site logistical support.
By working with SageAge, you can plan, implement and publicize a major event that effectively engages your key constituents and enhances the reputation of your brand in your competitive market and the media.
SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 202 / firstname.lastname@example.org.