In the previous blog, we discussed tips to help you make the most out of your tour experience before you even arrive. But now, the tour day has arrived! So, let us look at some helpful tips to guide you through the tour, and we will even discuss what to expect after the tour concludes!
Most retreat centers will have a planning folder that you can keep. Inside this folder you will find a map of the facility, pricing information, menus, and lots of other very handy tools to help you in the planning process!
Your tour guide will take you from place to place based on your previous conversations and knowledge he or she has of other groups who will be on the grounds at the same time as your event.
Never be afraid to ask questions, for they are the key! Here are some to bring up as you pass from place to place:
- What is available?
- What is the cost?
- What are the space capacities?
- Are there any special rules for the spaces?
- Is equipment provided?
- If a pool or beach area is available, verify all the rules, including age limits and safety.
- If the facility has field space that you would like to utilize, be sure to ask how to reserve it.
- Some tour guides may be able to give you some ideas for group activities or put you into contact with someone that can help you.
- What are the types of rooms available?
- Are their rooms that include those who are physically handicapped or need a wheelchair?
- Do rooms have refrigerators and/or microwaves?
- Are the linens included or not?
- Are there replacement linens?
- If linens are forgotten, can someone purchase them?
- What is the cost difference between a room with linens vs a room with no linens?
- Is there a cost difference for suites vs regular rooms?
3. Meeting spaces:
- What meeting spaces best fit your needs? Are their multiple options?
- What is included in the meeting space—tables, chairs, AV, etc.?
- Will you have to set the space up yourself or is there someone that will set it up for you?
- If you have AV needs, does the facility provide someone that can set up your AV equipment or even run it for you OR do you need to provide someone yourself?
- How early/how late can you use the meeting space?
- How early can you get into your meeting space to set up for your event?
- Are there any decorations or props that are prohibited? For example, many places may not allow an open flame or have rules on how to best adhere things to walls.
- Are there any decorations or props that are on hand at the facility? For example, may places may have tablecloths available for an additional rental fee.
4. Dining Room and Other Food Services:
- What are the suggested mealtimes?
- What are the rules for entering and dining at the dining room?
- Does a group have any control over the menu?
- Would your group be interested in a banquet?
- Can a group prepare any of their own food?
- Does the Dining Room accommodate those with dietary restrictions and if so, what is the best way to relay that information?
- Are there other options for food at the facility—snack bar, meeting space food and beverage, etc.? If so, have your tour guide explain those options, times available, and a menu if possible.
5. Miscellaneous Items:
- What are the safety rules and guidelines, and can these be provided?
- Are golf carts available, and if so, what is the cost?
- If your event is in the winter, be sure to ask about snow/ice precautions.
- If your event in is in the summer, be sure to ask about how the facility handles the high temperatures. Do they have misters or extra water stations?
- Always ask your tour guide if there is anything that you are not thinking of. Your tour guide is more familiar with the facility and may have some things you have not thought of.
Phew! That was a lot, but no worries! Most facilities will have someone there that will continue the event planning process with you. Usually all the information and input from your tour will be passed to this person so they can help finalize and fine tune the details of your event. In some cases, your tour guide might even be the person to continue the planning process! You will work closely with this person to make sure that your meeting spaces are set up correctly, your schedule is accommodated the best way possible, and that all the other many details from lodging and dietary restrictions to AV and table cloths are all taken care!
Always remember that you are not alone and never be afraid to ask questions! A great retreat begins with great planning, and there is always someone to help you get through the process!