A common justification we tell ourselves is "we're going to spend the same amount of money either way", however, the WAYyou spend that money will affect the VALUE your retreat delivers to your guests. Consider your event goals as you select a property and a pricing plan. Typically packages seem to have the advantage in providing a Christian group the best hospitality & atmosphere for the money. Investigate with the properties you're interested in hosting an event with to see if there is flexibilty in their packages; not just with rate but the level of amenities offered.
As a young single man, I am well versed at finding the cheapest way. I've had ramen noodles for dinner more than once or twice... I don't have too many fond memories of dinners with friends enjoying some ramen though. With my cup-o-soup or dollar menu I think more about the bland food; I really don't engage anyone I'm with... I'm just stuffing my face. Packages that include meals allow your group to sit down, break bread, and enjoy one other's company. If your goal is to build a stronger community look for a property that includes meals, it will help your guests keep their mind on fellowship and eliminate the distractions of restaurant choices and prices.
Ask about scaling amenities for your pacakge. For example at several of the Christian Retreats Network properties we can offer sit-and-serve or self-serve banquet options. Lodging is another area you can look for scaling amenities. Maybe your group prefers suites, or to save money and stay 4 to a room; save even more and bring linens from home and go dorm style. A property that offers packages should allow you to select the amenities that cover the needs of your group. Packages help planners efficiently focus on budget, but not dwell on the subject so they can focus on more important ministry goals.
MEETING SPACE & EXTRAS
Meeting space is vital for a retreat... it's more than a room because it hosts worship services, teaching sessions, and small groups that facilitate life change. With meeting space & related amenities included in packages, when you arrive if you need a few more chairs or an other mic for your worship service, its no problem. No extra charges. We see it this way, our strengths are in hospitality and yours are in preaching, teaching, and ministering to your people; by pairing our strengths we can bring our guests a better experience and glorify God!
The same concept applies to recreation, and your group is bound to have some free time. By providing activities at no extra charge your guests have additional opportunities to build relationships. Relationships that may really count when someone has a tough spiritual question and they're looking for guidance or someone to pray with. Packages should allow your group to fully emerse themselves in being on retreat, limit distractions, and focus on ministry.