I recently attended the event that was intended to be my main project for the length of my internship with the event planning shop, Station Avenue Productions.  Many hours went into organizing this women’s wellness retreat held at Borgata’s Water Club in Atlantic City last Sunday. The program was complete with a yoga session, energetic motivational speakers, massages, and a luncheon. It was all about “unleashing your inner goddess” and self improvement.

The event was a flop, with only 4 tickets sold out of 250. The total audience consisted of 25 women, who were mostly vendors or close friends who got to participate free of charge. My boss and I were dumbfounded as to why the woman who commissioned us for the event did not want to cancel or reschedule it. We spent the drive back to Cherry Hill discussing what could have changed this dismal turnout.

An event needs to be well advertised, which this one was. Email flyers were sent to a mailing list of 1,700 women. In addition, we had an online banner for the event displayed on CBS.com, which had around 100,000 impressions and a click through rate of 30,000. Still, only 4 women bought tickets. Why was this? We knew it had to do with a few things.

One of the factors was price. Tickets for the event started at $150 for the basic package and $300 for VIP, which included an upgraded gift bag and additional self-help lecture. Tickets to the poolside cocktail reception and belly dancer performance were another $99. After weeks of no sales, our host introduced a Buy-One-Get-One promotion which still proved futile. Along with slashing the ticket prices, she also cancelled the after party and belly dancer and decided to have a group lunch instead.

The next issue was the concept. The program was centered about 5 speakers who were a mix of self help, motivational speakers, and wellness coaches. There is a market for this, but it is not enormous. These speakers all fit into the same basic niche and their presentations were not interactive. It became repetitive and event attendees were becoming uninterested.

A Sunday is never a good day for an event of this nature. Generally, people would rather make a long weekend out of something like this. They could take off of work on a Friday and stay over night, or during the week they could take a day off while their children are in school. Many women are also into football, and during this time of year, some may not be willing to give up a Sunday to miss a game.

All of these things were part of the reason this event was not well attended. There was not enough bang for the buck. The tickets should have included a hotel room or after party, and perhaps the activities could be stretched over 2 days. It needed a wow factor, an incentive, some unique experience or perk for attending. It is unfortunate to see something that took so much planning and work turn out this way, but that is not as unfortunate as the amount of money our host ended up wasting to make this program happen.

Picture: All attendees of the event during the yoga session.

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