After the past several years of pandemic restrictions, in-person networking and prospect events are welcome additions to the sales and marketing schedules at senior living communities.
As we roll into fall 2022, the time is ripe to begin planning these networking and prospect events for the busy end-of-year holiday season. Don’t know where to start? Need some inspiration? Here are some tips to pull it all together in time:
Form a workgroup
Who is the captain of the event at the community? The executive director, the sales director, and the activities director should all be involved, but assigning ownership to one person will improve the organizational structure, focus, and direction. Other department heads in the community that may have a role to play in the event include culinary, dining, and maintenance.
This year-end event can be the largest one of the year for most senior living communities, so you will want to be careful in the use of the budget to make it go as far as it can. Pooling budgets with other departments, such as the sales and marketing budget being pooled with the activities department budget, can provide some extra funding to make the event even more spectacular.
What is the concept for the event? Ask yourself and your team these questions to build a picture of the event: Is it for prospects, current residents and their loved ones, referral sources, or some combination of all of these? Is it an open house or is it by invitation-only? Are you serving appetizers or is it a sit-down holiday dinner? Is it non-denominational or religious holiday-themed? The budget plays a part in some of these questions, so be mindful of the cost of each option.
Pick a date
Know the dates of the major holidays, and plan around them. Holding your event adjacent to but not on one of the major religious celebrations will increase the attendance. Here are the 2022 dates of the year-end religious holidays:
- Hanukkah: December 18 – 26
- Christmas Eve and Christmas: December 24 – 25
- Kwanzaa December 26, 2022 – January 1, 2023
Choose who to invite
Once you have decided on the concept of the event, choosing who to invite is easy. Your senior living CRM software can help you generate lists of prospects and referral sources.
Decorating: In addition to the holiday decorations your community almost certainly has in storage, handmade decorations, token gifts, and signs made by the residents add charming touches to the event. They’re also great activities for the residents to work on and are economical.
Food and beverages: Your community’s culinary and dining leadership and staff will definitely need to be involved with all aspects of food and beverage planning, preparation, and serving. Be sure they are involved early on so they can deliver this key part of the event.
Entertainment: Live music is always a treat at events like this. Does your community have a favorite piano or guitar player who regularly entertains the residents? Does a local middle school or high school have a student choir that is available to sing carols, or an instrument ensemble to play festive holiday music? The time to inquire and book your entertainment is now!
Set-up and clean-up: Depending on the scope of the event, it may be necessary to have “all hands on deck” for setting up before and cleaning up afterward. Or maybe a small crew of 5 to 10 staff can handle it. As your planning progresses, keep this part of the event in mind so you can have ample staff on hand to tackle it quickly and efficiently.
Schedule regular meetings
As the planning progresses and it becomes necessary to keep the members of the workgroup informed and in sync, the need for regular meetings increases. Choose a time that best accommodates everyone’s schedule, and send out calendar invitations up front so the meetings don’t get forgotten about and missed.
How are you going to let your invitees or the public know about your great event? Your company and/or community almost certainly utilizes social media, e-newsletters, email blasts, and flyers to hand out to referral sources during outreach, so take advantage of all of these methods to get the word out.
Don’t forget the marketing value of events
A festive crowd of residents and guests in attendance at the event, not to mention the preparation leading up to the event, presents great opportunities to take pictures and videos to post on social media. Don’t miss out on the marketing value of the event to show prospects how vibrant and engaged the residents are!
And of course the sales value
Last but not least, don’t forget that events like these play an important part in the sales cycle. A prospect and their family attending the event hopefully moves them toward making a deposit and moving in, so be sure that their attendance is noted in your CRM.
We hope this gave you some direction and inspiration to plan your end of year event(s) for prospects and referral sources. WelcomeHome wishes you much success in planning and executing your event.
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