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119: How to Set Up Systems for Retreats and Events Plus How to Think Through Your Retreats Strategically


Today, I’m interviewing Amber Housley, a business coach, marketing strategist, and live event expert. Amber shares her systems and strategies in planning retreats and live events, such as utilizing software like FG Funnels, Asana, Airtable, Voxer, and Textiful to automate processes and improve the attendee experience. She also emphasizes the importance of post-event surveys for future marketing and the creation of rich attended experiences.

Meet Amber Housley

Amber wants you to know that she can honestly tell you that there is no magic pill or pixie dust that will skyrocket your success…but she can share her top tips for raising babies and a business at the same time. With her expertise, she has led and consulted for top creatives and influencers, producing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue with her sales and marketing strategies. And she’s passionate about continued learning, entrepreneurship, and RAISING WOMEN TO NEW HEIGHTS.

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Read The Shownotes + Transcript Here.

  Dolly DeLong: Hey, all, and welcome back to another episode of the Systems and Workflow Magic Podcast. I am your Systems SOP and Workflow BFF and Guide, Dolly DeLong. Today, I am thrilled to share that I am Van Girling, my guest. I’ve Amber Housley on the podcast. Amber, thank you so much for coming to this show and agreeing to be here. Do you mind introducing yourself to the listeners and the viewers? 
Amber Housley: I’m excited to be here. So, um, as you said, I’m Amber Housley. I’m a business coach and marketing strategist, and I also call myself a retreat and live event expert. I want to say that I have an MBA in retreats and live events. I’ve attended, spoken at, and planned over 60 retreats, workshops, and conferences, like all the things you can think of when it comes to living event experiences. Now, I share insights about how you can do that for your business through my coaching, workshops, and virtual retreat experiences. So, I’ve been planning events for a long time, decades, right after I left college. I worked in corporate marketing and for agencies. And so I was doing events like the rooftops of Las Vegas casinos. And I eventually went on to have my own wedding-planning business here in Nashville, Tennessee. And, um, all those events were in many different magazines and even on TV. So I’ve done all these event planning and built these different businesses over the last 16 years. And so now I like to say I have my signature way off. I delight people and create transformational event experiences. And so I would like to share about that as well. 
Dolly DeLong: Well, Amber, thank you again for being here. For those who may be listening to the podcast and not watching it on YouTube, like Amber, it is a ray of sunshine. Your smile is so big and authentic, and I’m just so excited. You’re here. And, I. I know we’ll learn so much from you, especially the business owners who want to plan an event for a smaller or larger audience. You’ll be the perfect person, and we want your thoughts. I am also interested in how you set yourself up regarding systems, workflows, and SOPs. How do you set yourself up? For success when planning out these events and these unique retreats, how do you fuse both of these things? And that’s what we are going to be talking about today. Listeners like Amber have some incredible points to share with us, and we’re just going to. We’re just going to dive right. 
Amber Housley: in. Yeah. I want to encourage people to hear about me, especially my background. I mean, I’ve been doing events for decades now. Yeah. And, especially in my own business, I have done 20 events and learning experiences for the last ten years. And over 500 women have walked through the doors of anything from a one-day workshop to a multi-day all-inclusive retreat. So. My width is very, it’s very wide of my experience, but the person who’s listening right now is like, okay, I’m at the very beginning, you know like I’m not ready to jump all in with going and staying in a beach house or, renting a whole property as I do for our inspired retreat. So, I want to encourage the listeners like I didn’t start that way. Like in the very beginning, it was a one-day workshop in downtown Nashville with a room of 20 other people. And eventually, over the years, as I developed my business and it grew my audience in different ways, I wanted to serve people with live events, you know, that, that changed over the years. And so the things that I’m talking about today are: I use Systems and tools to facilitate these as they would work for a smaller 10-person workshop, and then they also work for several hundred when I’ve produced those for clients. So it’s all the same to me. And I always think, like, when I first started using systems and tools to manage the experience and after the buying experience, you know, like I was a one-woman show. And even today, we have a very. It’s a small team here, like running behind the scenes, and they’re all contractors. No one’s a full-time employee except for me. And so again, I always like to tell the listeners behind the scenes so they don’t feel like she’s talking about something, and she’s got a whole team of people supporting her. No, the systems and tools I’ve used over the years have made delivering it much more manageable. 
Dolly DeLong: Well, thank you so much for sharing that. It’s encouraging to hear, which makes it more tangible for the listeners, okay? We can step into this conversation then; it’s just more encouraging. 
Amber Housley: Yeah. Do you want me to start with one of the first ways we use funnels, tools, and systems to market the retreats? Yeah, definitely.
  Dolly DeLong: Before jumping into that, can you define a funnel for any listeners?
Amber Housley: Sure, yeah. So, a funnel is just a guided sales experience. And so typically, these are now done, at least how I sell my events online. And so the idea is just like a funnel, a weird word, but it’s a tangible thing people use in the kitchen. And you can use it for pies and baking. Yeah. The whole idea is to go and give a guided customized journey. So, a person who comes across you for the first time and meets and sees your brand gets to know you. Then, you do activities to support and nurture them in different stages of the funnel to encourage them to become customers eventually. And then I think, even for me, it sets it apart when I teach. Retreats and live events are about their experience at the retreat even af,ter I want the people who come and interact with me, my team, and my brand to have a truly transformational experience that they go and tell others about. And so, all I’m thinking of is that else. Can I create that for every step? Experience that people can be like brand evangelists for us and tell all their friends or come back and even be repeat buyers and come to our retreats again and again as they do.
Dolly DeLong: Awesome. Thank you so much for that quick introduction to funnels. ‘ So, okay. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Let’s jump into the marketing one.
Amber Housley: Well, one of the things also, too, like when it comes to sales funnels and online sales funnels and marketing is. Usually, you use a. Software or a tool to do that. The funnel software that I use is FG Funnels. It’s run by the company Funnel Gorgeous, and its CEO and co-CEOs are longtime friends of mine. I produced their event the Marketer’s Heart event for several years for their entire community. And so that’s the software that I use. And so, within a software tool that helps you go and create. Sales pages or landing pages are where people can download something, and you can capture their email address, and then you can follow up with targeted email.
I’m trying to use straightforward words, but email sequences are just emails sent over some time to nurture them into the buying process. One of the things we do within our sales funnel is to have this tremendous 20-plus page magazine download that covers everything possible. You would want to know about Inspired Retreat, one of my signature events. It’s a four-day, all-inclusive experience outside Nashville. We have one coming up this April 2024. And I’ve been doing that event for almost ten years now. That was the very first experience I had when I was in a one-day workshop in downtown Nashville. And now it’s like a nationally recognized event. That’s four days all-inclusive. So it’s immaculate how that dream has grown over the years. Yeah. Yeah. So, over the years, we have had lots of testimonials and marketing imagery. Even though I include all kinds of things on the sales page and where people can go and register for the retreat, they still have questions. It’s big, and it’s an investment for people. And so I get it. I want to give them as much information as possible to help empower them in their decisions. So they feel comfortable with it. So we’ve designed this beautiful magazine download so you can go to the landing page, download it, and put in your email address, and they are, you know, moved into our email nurture sequence, that’s about six or so emails. And really, this is all about repurposing because I’ve launched this retreat for many years. And so I can make those emails evergreen, meaning they can be used anytime. And really, we only just need to switch out the dates because the content is still relatively the same forum. And this particular mechanism or tool we’re doing here in this funnel is meant to be used in the off-season. So, we host an inspired retreat. Now, once a year, there was a time when I was doing it twice a year. But now I host other events. So now we only do inspire retreat once a year, but in the off-season, when we aren’t, like when we are sold out, it becomes a great waitlist and interest list builder. So you could do the method of, I’m hosting an event here, get on the waitlist, and then you give an email, and then you get crickets; as a person who’s interested now, we can send them and put them in our nurture sequence. We can send them a magazine. So. When we do open the doors again, it makes it easy for them to, you know, make a buying decision.
Dolly DeLong: So, like what I’m hearing from this is no matter, let’s say you have an idea like a listener, you have an idea for a retreat that’s for ten people even or 15 people, and you know you want it to be like six or seven months down the line because you got to give yourself some time to plan don’t what you’re saying is don’t just leave a waitlist and a confirmation email and then that’s it. It would be best to nurture them to keep them at the top of your mind. Okay. But how how do they do that? Especially as a team of one. What did they talk about if they didn’t have it? You have been coming in front with decades of experience and like repurposing the content. But what if, like they are, they’ve not had ground zero, zero, then 
Amber Housley: what? Yeah, well, I think it’s essential to go and talk about the outcomes one can expect—part of your retreat. So, we’ll use the word retreat me. It’s interchangeable. We’ve been discussing a live event, conference, or workshop, but we’ll say the word retreat to make it easier. And usually, there’s a lot of things like rather than just. You put dates on it and say, here you go, here’s my retreat, whatever. I find it’s more compelling, and you can convert people better. If you tell them a lot more about your why, if you tell them about the reasons why you felt right now, the market, the industry, and your community needed this event more than ever, there’s just so much storytelling that could be happening in that time from—that six-month period out, which is usually about the launch runway. I recommend a live event for about six months. That feels good. And you could be talking about the why and why you’re compelled to do it. You could be talking about what they’re going to walk away with. You can talk about what they can expect. Talk about who it’s for. You can give a timeline of what’s going to happen each day. You could be unveiling the guest speakers. You could be talking about your expertise. So everything that I’ve just mentioned, I would not put in one email. 
Dolly DeLong: divide that up into five different emails right there. Yes. 
Amber Housley: Wow. And all of those could also be repurposed into social posts as well. Those are like repurposing; everything I’ve just said to you could also be included in the magazine. So much of what is in our magazine has been used elsewhere. Like I’ve talked about it. It’s been in a blog post. It’s been in an email, and we’re just putting it all in one extensive document for the person who’s just jumping in for the first time. Once there, so many different people consume information differently. And there’s a large amount of people, especially when you have something that is, an investment like inspired or retreat starts at about 2 500. So that is a high ticket investment. So they want to know everything. I don’t want to hold anything back from them, making it an excellent decision for them. 
Dolly DeLong: And I’m returning to the point you mentioned, Amber, where you are repurposing much of this content. It sounds like you’re reminding viewers and listeners over and over again. And I want, again, I want to preface this by saying I’ve only had five years of experience being on, on the online space and you’ve had. So much more experience than me, but I hear you say, like, talk about it over and over and over again, until past the point of you feel like you’re blue in the face, you’re probably not blue in the face, you’re not talking about it enough. And I want to remind listeners and viewers not to assume that if you post about it once or talk about it once on this platform, you can’t repurpose it. I don’t know if it’s Pinterest, an Instagram post, or a Facebook post. You have to be very repetitive in this online space. It’s just like. That’s just the way it goes. I’ve noticed that.
Amber Housley: Oh, for sure. I made an Instagram real one time. That was a joke because so often when I’m working with people creating their retreats, like within my program, they are always like, I like, I feel like I’ve talked about it forever, and I’m like, no, you haven’t. No, you haven’t. Like you, you still have; someone still hasn’t heard it. And even to your point, I find myself a lot, especially regarding Instagram reels. I also find myself making those a little more evergreen when doing it. And now I’ve gone back and re-shared reels when I was promoting an inspired retreat last year. And I will share those again in my Instagram stories because it’s. Same if nothing has changed. It’s the same thing. It’s just reminding people again because they were good pieces of content that I created. 
Dolly DeLong: That’s smart, Amber. Okay. Well, I’ll send you money for that. Like the piece of information you just told me. 
Amber Housley: I don’t know if you noticed this, but Instagram just like kind of, you know, they’re always doing updates, but now when you go and share a reel to your stories, it takes up the whole canvas, have you noticed that? Maybe I have it. Yeah. So, I’ll go and share a reel of my story, and it stretches automatically, so it looks like a whole new story rather than a box with a little box. Yeah. And now it’s like, that’s even, yeah, it just started doing that for me about a week ago. 
Dolly DeLong: Okay, yeah. Maybe that’s why they’re rolling it out to people. Yeah, yeah. 
Amber Housley: Anyway, that’s the perfect example of reels I made marketing the retreat a year ago that are all working again. Now, I’m just putting the link to the new sales page. 
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, I love that. Thank you for sharing that. I can’t wait to test that out. So, okay. So, like going back to software, are there any software tools you would recommend a. Beginning business center use and utilize outside because I’ve heard great things about FG funnels and any other software, or is that a perfect starting point?
Amber Housley: Yes. Okay. So FG funnels, I like to say, cause I’ve used all the tools. I can tell you how FG funnels, like usually, sometimes I’ll say it is medium-level expertise. So, maybe not a beginner. But then again, I started finding some beginner people. The reason why I love it is it’s an all-in-one solution. And as a person who’s been doing this for 16 years, I had so many different, you know, using Thinkific for my course membership library, using ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit for my email. ClickFunnels was a sales funnel software I used before FGFunnels. And FGFunnels allowed me to put all of that Under one roof. And so for only, it was like 99 a month when I joined. So that helped me reduce my bill so much. They have excellent customer service, and now even beginners can get started on that platform because you can join live office hours every day, like Monday through Friday. You can get on there, which is unheard of on other software platforms. Like that doesn’t exist. Usually, you have to enter a bunch of support tickets. So you can join a Zoom call and share your screen, and they like to answer it. They’re alive to get you going, which is incredible. It doesn’t cost you anything extra. So now I’ve started telling beginners you could go over to FG funnels, too, if you don’t want to have a bunch of separate systems. Now, if you’re like, I’m not ready, like I’m not going to have courses anytime soon or any of that sort of thing, then, I think of like the beginning, I used MailChimp when I first was starting. With email marketing and building email sequences, I think ConvertKit is a better platform now to get started on when it comes to emails and, like, setting those things up. So, that’s what I would recommend for people to begin with. Flowdesk gets all the love right now because it’s perfect. It is sexy-looking, polished, and pretty, and it doesn’t have as many advanced features as you can get in a convert kit. 
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, that’s true. I will admit I use the flow desk, and there are parts of me that I should jump ship to the Convert kit. But I’m just like the thought. I know transferring everything is like, Oh, I’ll keep continuing. And I’m hoping that some new features will come out. 
Amber Housley: it looks like they’re up like they’re investing. I’ve noticed that cause I keep tabs on all the software and see what people are doing. Cause so many people I coached within my business programs use all these tools. So I have to know what they’re doing, but yeah, when you want to start getting more sophisticated with your funnels and email. Like I just. You are getting on a platform that will allow you to do that. Like just future pacing kind of helps. 
Dolly DeLong: Okay. You can host all your courses within FG funnels, which all talk to your email. Like me, the extensive system I use is Zapier. That’s how I like to make everything talk to each other. 
Amber Housley: other. And then I was so tired. I was so tired of giving Zapier money for all the zap. So no, Zapier’s gone now. And so, yes, because there’s FG mail within FG funnels. So, my email marketing is within FG, our membership learning portal, and our sales funnels; there are more things you can do than I do. You can do all kinds of things. It has all sorts of integrations with your social accounts. There’s invoicing; there are calendar appointments. So I could get rid of Calendly if I want to; I haven’t done so yet. So there’s so much you can do, but like the three men, I apply to eliminate them. And Zapier, like the number of zaps we were doing before to get things to the active campaign, to get to Thinkific, and to get to all the places, was like going through the roof in billing. 
Dolly DeLong: I believe that. I think that so much. Well, Amber, it’s like you’re slowly converting me over to FG Funnels. I know you got my mind spinning. I’m like, maybe I need to reassess my tech facts.
Amber Housley: I have an excellent backdoor link, too. If you want the backdoor link, it’s amberhalsey. Com slash FG Funnels. And it gets you a better monthly rate than what’s advertised.
Dolly DeLong: So that’s good. I will be sure. Can I include that in the show notes? I will do that. Okay. Awesome. Okay. I know we went off on a tangent, and I warned you that I tend to go off on tangents with so many questions.
Amber Housley: And now I have something like, it’s like bugging me. I’m like, I have to say it too. Zapier is, is a great tool. It’s very user-friendly, but it got costly for us. So it’s saying my other favorite tool that we moved to cause we still have to do what I call zaps, even though it’s a different tool we use to make. Now, have you ever heard of Make no, it’s called Integra mat, and then they rebranded and now it’s just made so m a k e. com and it functions the same way as happier and lets you send information via webhooks and things like that. And it is a fraction of the cost of what we were paying to Zapier. So no way I was like, since I know you zap, you’re like, I want to tell you that and everyone else to check out, make, you make scenarios is what it’s called and then, rather than zaps. But it can do a lot of things that, that, that was doing for us. Amber, wow. 
Dolly DeLong: This is a coaching session with you. Like just invoices. Seriously. I joke around about this. It was a lot of my guests. I’m like, invoice me later. I’d say this is amazing. Okay. I will also have this in the show notes for all the listeners. Okay. So, going back to the marketing conversation, you’re talking about how you map out your sales funnel for the event for the retreat. And then, what is another aspect of mapping out and planning out your event and 
Amber Housley: retreat? Yeah. They were thinking about the buying and purchasing experience. And so, when someone does decide to RSVP for one of our events, we have a lot of systems in place. And different scenarios that happen to make it a buying experience. That’s like really they’re excited about, and they feel welcomed because I can’t tell you, as I said, is that MBA I have in retreats and events is that, I found like there were so many events that I would go to and I would buy something and then it was crickets afterward. It was like, okay, I guess I showed up and hoped for the best. And I never want. Any attendee to feel that way. I want them to feel so excited. There’s no doubt in their mind that they made a good decision. They feel prepared and ready to go because I want it when they walk through the door. I can transform them somehow, but I can’t do that if other things hinder them, like they don’t know what to pack. They didn’t know where to arrive. They’re scared of the other people there. They don’t know who they are. They think they’re all alone. Many things can happen in an attendee’s mind after they push the purchase button, and I can do many other things, like little sorcery and tricks, to make it an excellent experience. And it 
Dolly DeLong: It also sounds like this allows you to create content to email that sounds like answering the FAQs.
Amber Housley: Yeah. We put all those FAQs in the magazine on the sales page, right? But we can reiterate them for them. And I find now, after doing this for ten years, the window of attention has gotten so small. Before, someone would buy something from me six months out, say, from the retreat. And then, you know, we’d email every single month, and we’d, you know, get them prepared and excited with just information, just via email or however we do that. And I can talk about that in a minute. But now I find they’re not paying attention to any of those. It’s not until maybe two weeks out or the week of that suddenly they’re like, Oh, I have a retreat I’m going to; what do I need to know? Like suddenly, they realize that it’s here. And it’s been exciting as a host because now I have to adapt things that almost still serve the way I did before. But now I feel like I have to create a new condensed version one week out. That was like, in case you missed it. Here’s everything else you need to know all in one place.
Dolly DeLong: It’s funny that you say that because my background before I went full-time into my business was that I worked in higher education for about seven to eight years. I loved it. There were parts, like good parts and bad parts, but overall I loved it. I loved working with college-age students and watching them grow and evolve. But the one thing I remember about college students and I like would make fun. Sometimes, if I had rapport with them, I’d say, ” Oh, you’re a classic college student. But mostly inside, I’d say, wow, you can tell them everything. And then, they act surprised when something is due, or they act, whoa, I don’t remember you telling me this. And after you emailed them, after you talk, talk to them in person, after you texted them and. Now I like to think, wow, they are now the adults in this world, and they’ve taken that personality and are now like a part of society, and I like to laugh about it. They’re great, but I loved them. I think that that’s so true, Amber. Like them, the attention span of adults is this. Like this. Yeah. And like how I parent my sons my entire night, I realized it also has to do with a vast thing like social media and technology and all that stuff. But we’re like, please pay attention. We’re trying to help them have a higher attention span, but I don’t know if it’s like a losing battle, but it’s. Still, it’s something that’s always at the forefront of my mind. And 
Amber Housley: I think, too, it is like when I think of my audience, a lot of the people, everyone, who attends my retreats are. Usually, I’d say, middle-aged women are juggling a lot, whether they have a family or a partner and pets and a busy business. So it’s almost like we put on blinders to things where we’re like, I’m only focused on this one thing. When I get over that one thing, it’s retreat time, and my attention can go over it. And so we used to be, I think, better at consuming a little bit of everything. And now we’re like, okay, no, I only have this capacity to think. And I found myself actually, I. I didn’t understand it until recently. I went to the retreat for a mastermind I’m a part of. So I was the attendee. And I was one of those people getting the emails, and I was like, Oh yeah, okay. I’ll look at that when I need to get to it. And then suddenly, the two days before, I was like, Oh no, my goodness. Yeah. And I was like searching my inbox. Where are the emails? What do I need to know? What do I need to pack? And so it showed me on the receiving end. Okay. What can I do differently? And it even made me think that I need to, for this upcoming retreat, there needs to be one, almost like. Landing space for people to go to. Maybe it’s like a URL or something people can visit with everything in one place. At the same time, I searched through my inbox for various emails, like with keywords, just trying to find what I needed. And that wasn’t very easy as an attendee. And they could be doing that, based on how I used to do that. Like when I would share about the retreat.
Dolly DeLong: That’s a good tangent on knowing your clients. And, I want to say, Amber, I fit in that middle age category, where your ideal client is. I’m like, yeah, that’s me. Cause, as a mom, I’m just, like, so focused. Okay. I just got to get through, right now, when we’re recording, it’s the holidays, and I am just like, okay, I need to focus on getting through this day and doing all the activities with the boys. And then I can do this. And then, I, yeah, exact, I, I am that.
Amber Housley: Maybe you could say we all have better boundaries now. Where we’re like, this is all I have capacity for. Maybe. That was a whole tangent on why. Yes, I love it. Why we, why we do what we do here. But now I can talk about the system. Like what happens when someone buys. Let’s do that. Let’s say that when someone goes and buys, say, an inspired retreat, they make the purchase. They go on a landing page with initial details they need to know and get ready. While they do that, we get notifications when they land on the landing page. So we’ve set up notifications. You can do notifications with an FG. Then, using make, we create a scenario for a sauna task. And so, the team gets an email notification saying so and so just bought Inspired Retreat. And now, I would get that in different ways. Say my Stripe app would tell me someone bought it. But I like the inbox notifications because they motivate me, as the host, and like, yay, like, you know, you just made a sale, like someone was interested. You’re so excited about this attendee. You can’t wait to get to know them. I usually find myself looking them up or following them on social media. Like I want to get to know them right off the bat. And so it’s a great mechanism. It also goes and creates a task. I have a person on my team, our retreat concierge, who will send a one-to-one email that she has templated. Still, she customizes it to them, invites them if they want to get on a call if they have any initial questions and says we’re so excited, more details are coming, like our email. Sequence like for a purchaser, we’ll get those kind of ones too. But those are more like automated messages. Like we’re so excited. So, I like to add a personal touch to it for the concierge to go and do that. 
Dolly DeLong: So, can we take a step back and talk about the tech stack of that? So you had mentioned, Yeah. FG funnels. Mm-Hmm. And then Asana. And then say Yes. And then 
Amber Housley: Is there any other a couple more that will happen here also? Gotcha. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Gotcha. So the data from the purchase, like the buyer’s purchase data we’re using, make. To go and send it to air table. So, the air table is another software tool that we use. We use that for our attendee management, where we have it all in one place, like one table or spreadsheet. If you’re unfamiliar with the air table, it’s more like a very like. I souped up Google spreadsheet. Um, I love Airtable. Yeah. Yes, and so we would have that in portable.
We have all our attendees in one place. And it has all of their information. In case we need to reach out to them. Then, we’ve added additional fields within that attendee management that have more about them and information from an intake form. So when they first buy on that landing page, it says, we’re so excited. There’s more information we’d like to get from you to make your experience a great one. Can you fill out this form? And it’s an intake form on type form. The form is I’ve used them for years. Yes. You can get by using Google Forms and other things like that, which are more free tools-type forms. We do use the paid one. We’ve been using it for years because it integrates well with many. And it’s just a beautiful experience. So, sometimes, I like to pay for upgraded experiences, and typing forms is one of them. And so that has lots of details.
Like we get to know, what do they want to get out of the experience? Who’s their emergency contact? There’s some waiver information, t-shirt sizes, all of that. When they fill out that form, that data can also be populated in the air table under attendee management. So it’s like. Everything then is put on an air table anytime we need to reach out to an attendee, or as we get further along in the retreat planning process, we might ask them, Hey, what are your travel plans? How are you bringing to the retreat location? And, you know, are you driving in your rental car? How are you doing it? So we can connect attendees and put all that information on the air table. 
Dolly DeLong: Gotcha. This is all great. And why, okay, listeners, if you’re wondering, why am I asking so much about the tech stack? Why am I curious? It’s because I want to encourage you as a listener, as a viewer; if you’re going to plan out a retreat, an event, or a workshop, you’ll need to know your tech stack or understand, like, how you’re using your tools together to make it a seamless process for yourself. And for your purchaser, for your buyer, and Amber, how long did it take you to, on average, map this out before you started putting everything together?
Amber Housley: I honestly think it was something organic, but in the beginning, it was like none of this was in place. It was very manual. It was like, yeah, back and forth like over email, and then suddenly it was like, oh let’s go and use Typeform, like let’s start taking information via a form that’s like a way more accessible way to send to people, yeah. Then it was like,, ” oh,, let’s put that information in a spreadsheet, and then the air table ended up being a better one. Then we realized that you could send that information and not have to manually have a human Go and type all that information in for each person. So, it was almost like some self-discovery. So I guess now I’m just telling everyone, like, Hey, this is what you can do from the beginning and not be like me and take ten years to figure out like, Oh, you could have this all automagically happen for you. 
Dolly DeLong: Yes. I don’t know anything about FG Funnels. That’s why I keep asking about FG Funnels, but I use Dubsado for almost everything in my business. Do they have FG Funnels that can do this, like the questionnaires, the contracts, and all that stuff? 
Amber Housley: I believe it does. I believe it does. But I don’t use those features. So I can’t speak to it.
Dolly DeLong: But cause that’s everything you’re describing for, Okay. Well, like the questionnaires, the type form, I do that within Dubsado for sure, projects and events, like not events, projects, one-on-one services I have with clients and students, and it auto-populates. So, bringing that up is just like researching your own and seeing what your tools are capable of before you like to make these. I’m just like a huge. I am a proponent of ensuring that what you have in your tool belt works. I think these big purchases are because I had no idea that Dubsado had specific capabilities. I’m glad I researched that, like with the questionnaires and automating into specific bright fields, years ago. So that’s why I’m, I don’t know why, I just wanted to remind you what your tools are before you branch out. But these are all, of course, I’m, you’re selling me more and more on FG funnels. I just, that’s awesome. Okay. So you shared your tech stack and then shared about the like. A purchaser purchases from you their experience. Then what about the attendee experience? 
Amber Housley: Yeah, so when a purchaser goes through the buying experience in FG, they get tagged as a purchaser. So, we use a tagging system within our CRM within the emails. So, using that tag, it becomes straightforward for us to send emails to all attendees outside of email marketing. And so, we’ll communicate with them in the months leading up to it and more frequently as we get closer. But I found more recently that we’ve evolved slightly in what happens when they arrive on-site. And previously, when Facebook groups were very, like everybody was using Facebook, you know, we’ll say, we’ll say like them, maybe this was like five years ago, everyone was on Facebook every single day, right? They weren’t distracted. Everyone was in groups. The algorithm worked in group favors. And so everyone could see everything, you know? And that was where we communicated when people were on site, and, even in leading up, we were like, Hey, get to know each other over in this space. In the weeks leading up, share car rides, whatever they are. And the more on-site, the more we could say things like, Hey, we’re going to be started at this time or like any. As you begin to host events, you’ll find that you have the best intentions with your schedule, but things will flex as things happen and need to be changed. Or there’s like weather things that happen. And so you’ve got to alter outdoor activities, whatever it is. And so the Facebook groups we found weren’t working anymore as a way to go in and do it. And we would script things in a Google Doc and say, here’s the best way to communicate at least daily or several times a day. So, we changed the method we used. And so we started doing text messages. And so, I use Textiful. That’s one of my favorite text messaging platforms. And so we were doing that as a way because not everyone used Facebook. And so we could go in and pre-plan out messages again, ahead of time, that says, good morning. We’ll see you at this time, whatever it is.
After a couple of years of doing that, we started to realize that it allowed us to do planning, but it wasn’t as good on the fly. Cause things would change constantly. So, you’d have to open up the whole platform and schedule a broadcast message. It was more kind of time-consuming. So then we moved over to using Voxer. And so the Voxer app, if you’re not familiar, that’s like a voice. And text messaging is a free app you can download. It’s meant to be like a walkie-talkie that you can press a button and record, but we found it easier to add people to a group chat for that and then be able to be in the moment. So we said, Hey, here’s the app you want to download while you’re on-site, so turn on notifications. So then you won’t miss anything. And that just gave us a lot more flexibility to be. We are updating everything ahead of time. So that was one thing that we did for the attendee experience.
Dolly DeLong: I love that so much. So, like communication, make sure everything’s because you’re right. I thought the last time I was a part of a, a, an ex like a group experience, a retreat, was when my son had just turned one. I don’t purchase a lot of retreat experiences or workshop experiences because I have little ones at home. The last time was in 2019, the show at the United Conference. I don’t know how they communicated with everyone through a particular app, but they created it to message everyone. And it was very effective for me to know where to meet and where to go because it was overwhelming. It was like hundreds of people in a new place. And I was brand new, and I didn’t know anyone. And so it was very, it made the process easier. So I love that. I’m tying this back into the fact that I love that you thought that through for how to communicate on the fly to people when things change; that’s super helpful and encouraging. And, um, I wanted to shout out to, I think. Laylee is one of, I don’t know if she’s one of your students or what, but she was in 
Amber Housley: my Codery Mastermind program. Okay,
Dolly DeLong: so you should, like, I don’t know, you should feel proud of yourself because I purchased an event. I’m going to one of her events in January. Yeah. And, this is a big deal for me because, again, I. I have children. I want little ones. And I’m like, okay, this is the first one I’m going to after four years of not doing anything. And she has helped make the experience so flawless. There are no questions for me. I know exactly what to expect. And it’s been a good lead-up. So everything that you have with. Spoken about you do. I’m trying to affirm you right now, Amber, and make your head explode. Let you know, like you, you know what you’re doing, and listeners like Amber know her stuff. So when she says that, she teaches others how to lead and execute good events well, which I can attest to. For example, I am purchasing from one of her peers, whom she has taught. And so all of this stuff, all of these systems like work, and she teaches them well. 
Amber Housley: Oh, I love that. And lately, Amadi, yes, she has the Creative Educators Conference in January, and I know I had a ticket last year, and then my husband ended up having surgery so that I couldn’t go. And so I’m trying to work it into the schedule this year because I want to go. I want to support her. Yeah, because I know I’ve heard such amazing things about her event, and we’ve also been on many panels together. I got to coach her for a year, which was exciting, but then we’ve been on panels because we love talking about events. So she’s also a great. Person. So I vouch for Laylee, too, if anyone’s listening. Hers is a great live event to go to. And it also made me think of, and we were talking about, text messaging versus an app. I wanted to point out, too, that the Voxer app is perfect for smaller events. I never put several hundred people on the Voxer app within a channel. That would be, yeah. You can also broadcast channels where people can talk and respond. So, I use the Voxer app for something like 25 people or less. Anything larger than that, I would use text messaging or some other kind of app. So, I just wanted to point that out, too. That’s 
Dolly DeLong: Good. All right. I know we’ve been chatting for quite some time now, and I don’t want to take up too much of your time and overwhelm you, Amber. But as we wrap up, do you have anything else to add to the three main points you shared, like the systems of events and retreats?
Amber Housley: Yeah, I think the final thing I would say for it, especially when it comes to the attendee experience, and for it also goes into your marketing, is knowing how important and valuable the attendee survey is. So, at the end of the experience, you already have that ready in advance, like even in the weeks leading up to it, and you already get that in place. Again, we’re using type form for that. So, we already have a template in place to do it. And we already have an email queued up, ready to go. So, when the people leave, and they’re maybe sitting at the airport, in the air, or wherever they’re at, or like the next day, we incentivize them to complete it within those first 24 hours because everything’s fresh. In your people’s mind, usually, it’s, hopefully, all positive, right? If you’ve done an excellent job delighting and, you know, putting on a great experience. And so I always want to capture that while it’s in the moment because a couple of days later, they will forget all that. And so it’s essential to have that queued up because you, as the host, will be exhausted. It’s like the last thing. When you return from your retreat, you will need a day or a few days of recovery. And just like quiet time, you’re not in the spotlight as much. And so the last thing on your mind is, Oh, I got to go back and craft an email and a survey. And so we always like to have that scheduled in advance. 
Dolly DeLong: I love that. Also, as a reminder to all the listeners and viewers, Amber has shared over 16 years of experience doing this. So, I am sure you probably didn’t know all of these follow-up questions to ask in year one. I am guessing. 
Amber Housley: Yeah, yeah. No, it took some time for me to figure it out. Okay. And because I think it’s the marketing person in me, too, I now know the right questions to ask. So, I get a great testimonial that I can then use to market. Yeah. 
Dolly DeLong: I love that. So just. Just be patient with yourselves, listeners, and viewers. And just like I love that Amber shared, you need to plan out like that. You will probably be exhausted after the event. So, map out and plan out those follow-through emails and testimonial survey requests so you can genuinely like the rest. This has been a great episode. I’m excited about getting it, but I don’t know. I’m just happy that listeners learn more about the systems and workloads behind retreats, events, and special events, which will help many people. So, I want to say thank you again, Amber. 
Amber Housley: I love it. 
Dolly DeLong: please share with the audience, like how they can follow you, work with you, get to know you, and also like share any upcoming events you may 
Amber Housley: have. Yeah, absolutely. You can find me on Instagram: Amber Housley. You can also find me on Facebook. I have a podcast called the Bloom and Grow show, where I talk about many retreat topics. I talk about business strategy and marketing. I’ve talked a lot about inspired retreats. So that’s coming up April 21st through the 24th. And so you can go to amberhousie. Com slash joins the inspired retreat. If you’re interested in that and seeing, like I always say for those interested in hosting their retreat, experience one of my eve. You see how I can be a student and see how I do it and take your notes like I’m an open book when it comes to that sort of thing if you’re just in the beginning stages of dreaming up like hey, what could a retreat or live event look like I have a low-cost 37 product called the Dream Retreat Challenge. You can go to amberhousie. Slash Dream Retreat and check that out. And then if you liked anything I shared today, you’re like, okay, Amber, what are the emails? What does the content need to say? What are, you know, the swipe files? What would be the things I put on the survey form for that attendee experience? You can find all that in my retreat planning program, Invite and Delight. So that’s Amber Halsey. Com slash invite and delight. And that’s all of my systems, all the templates. If you heard me talk about our attendee management and air table, I gave you the base within the air table so you could replicate all the planning tools checklist. So that’s for the person who wants to jump. In.
Dolly DeLong: I love it. And you all, this will be in the show notes. And so don’t worry, I will include everything. I would love you all to follow Amber and learn more from her. Cause I’ve, I’ve been loving learning from Amber. I think it’s been the past two years. I’ve been following her on Instagram, loving her, and getting to know her. It’s fun meeting another fellow national park lover. I love the national park so much. And I always love it whenever Amber takes her family there. It’s always fun seeing that. Okay. So snag everything in the show notes and next week I will come back with a whole new systems and workflow-related episode. But until then, stay streamlined and magical. You are a fantastic muggle, and I will talk to you all next week. Bye. 

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