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

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Today I’m interviewing Amber Housley, a business coach, marketing strategist, and live event expert. Amber shares the systems and strategies she uses 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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  Dolly DeLong: Hey y’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. And today I am thrilled to share that I am Van girling over my guest today. I’ve Amber Housley on the podcast and Amber, thank you so much for coming on this show, and thank you for 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 like 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 that you can think of when it comes to living event experiences. And so now I share insights about how you can do that for your own business through my coaching, workshops, and virtual retreat experiences. So, I’ve been doing event planning for a long time, decades right when I got out of college. I worked in corporate marketing and for agencies. And so I was doing events on 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, you know, all of those events were in a lot of different magazines and even, on TV. So I’ve done all these event planning as I’ve built these different businesses over the last 16 years. And so now I like to say I have my signature way off. Delighting people and, and creating transformational event experiences. And so I like to share about that as well. 
 
Dolly DeLong: Well, Amber, thank you so much again for being here. For those of you who may be, listening to the podcast and not watching this on YouTube, like Amber, literally is a ray of sunshine. Like your smile is so big and so authentic and I’m just like, so excited. You’re here. And, I. I know that we’re going to learn so much from you, especially the business owners who want to plan out an event, either for a smaller audience or a larger audience. You’re going to be the perfect person, like for us to pick your brain. And, I am really curious, like as far as systems and workflows and SOPs go, like, how do you set yourself up? For success when planning out these events, these special 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. Well, I say, I want to encourage people who are hearing, especially about my background. I mean, I’ve been doing events for decades now. Yeah. And, especially in my own business, for the last 10 years, I have done 20 different types of events and learning experiences. And over 500 women have walked through the doors of anything from a, one-day workshop to like 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 like I do for our inspired retreat. So I just 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 with. Systems and tools that I use to facilitate these like they would work for a smaller 10-person workshop, you know, 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 uh, using systems and tools to manage the experience and manage after the buying experience, you know, like I was a one-woman show. And even today we have a very. 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, like I always like to tell you the behind the scenes to the listeners, so they don’t feel like, Oh, like she’s talking about something like, and she’s got a whole team of people that are supporting her. No, it’s the systems and tools that I’ve used over the years that like, just have made it a lot easier to deliver on. 
 
Dolly DeLong: Well, thank you so much for sharing that. And, that’s encouraging, for me to hear. And I know for the listeners and that makes it more tangible to like, okay. we can step into this conversation then, it’s just more encouraging. 
 
Amber Housley: Yeah. Well, do you want me to just start with, like, you know, one of the first kinds of ways that we use, funnels and tools and systems to market the retreats? Yeah, definitely.
 
  Dolly DeLong: Before you jump into that, can you define what a funnel is for any listeners?
 
Amber Housley: Sure, yeah. So, a funnel to me is just a guided sales experience. And so typically these are now done at least the way that I sell my events online. And so the idea is just like a funnel, which like, and the funnel word is like a weird word, but it’s a tangible thing that people use like in the, in the kitchen. And you can use it for pies, for baking. Yeah. Like it’s and the whole idea is to go and give a guided, customized journey. So a person who just comes across you for the first time and meets and sees your brand gets to know you. And then you do activities to support and nurture them along in different stages of the funnel to encourage them to eventually become a customer. And then I think even for me, which I think sets it apart when I teach on. Retreats and live events are that even the experience they have at the retreat, even after 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 it. And so really all of I’m, I’m thinking of that every step of the way when I think of funnels is like, how can I go and create that? Experience that people can be like brand evangelists for us and tell all their friends or come back and even be repeat buyers and, and come to our retreats again and again like 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. And so, the funnel software that I use is FG Funnels. It’s run by the company Funnel Gorgeous and, the CEO, and the co-CEOs of it are longtime friends of mine. I produced their event called, 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 where people can download something and like you can capture their email address, and then you can follow up with targeted email. I’m trying to like, I’m trying to use really simple words, but I’ll say email sequences, which are just emails sent over some time to nurture them into the buying process. And so, one of the ones we do within our sales funnel is that we have this great 20-plus page magazine download and it covers everything possible. You would want to know about Inspired Retreat, which is 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 over, actually over 10 years now. That was the very first, experience I did when it was 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 really neat how that dream has grown over the years. Yeah. Yeah. So over the years, we now have lots of testimonials and marketing imagery. All kinds of things that even though I include on the sales page and where people can go and register for the retreat, they still have questions or they still like, it’s big, it’s, it’s an investment for people. And so I get it. I want to go and give them as much information 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, you can download it, put in your email address, and they are, you know, kind of 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 over. And so I’m able to go and make those emails evergreen, meaning that they can be used at any time. 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 that we’re doing here in this funnel is, really great to do in the off-season. So we host about 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 or whatever it is, it becomes a great, waitlist and interest list builder. So you could do the method of, I’m hosting an event here, come get on the waitlist and then you give an email and then you get crickets, As a person who’s interested now, like 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 10 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. You should be nurturing them along the way to keep them Top of mind. Okay. But how, how do they do that? especially As a team of one or what did they talk about if they don’t have, cause 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 really important to go and, and talk about the, the outcomes that one can expect. Part of your retreat. So we’ll use the word retreat me. It’s interchangeable. We’ve been talking about a live event or conference or a workshop, but we’ll just 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 is about six months. That feels good. And, so 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 be also repurposed into social posts as well. Like those are all like repurposing and everything I’ve just said to you could also put it in the magazine. So much that is in our magazine has been used somewhere else. Like I’ve talked about it. It’s been in a blog post. It’s been in an email and just we’re putting it all in one big 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, right? Like I don’t want to hold anything back from them, making it a very good decision for them. 
 
Dolly DeLong: And I’m going to kind of like going back to a point that you had mentioned, Amber, like you are repurposing a lot of this content. It sounds like you’re reminding, viewers, and listeners over and over again. And I want, again, I just 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 am hearing you say, just 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 one time, or if you talk about it one time on this platform you can’t repurpose it. I don’t know, Pinterest or 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 like a joke because so often when I’m working with people who are 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, there’s still someone that didn’t hear it. And even to your point too, I find myself a lot, especially when it comes to Instagram reels. I find myself making those a little bit more evergreen as well when I do it. And now I’ve gone back and re-shared reels when I was promoting an inspired retreat last year. And I share those again to 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 just 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 like I’ll go and share a reel to my story and it stretches automatically, so it looks like a whole new story rather than it being like a box with a little box. Yeah. And so now it’s like, now that’s even, yeah, it just started doing that for me like about a week ago. 
 
Dolly DeLong: Okay. Yeah. Maybe that’s why they’re like rolling it out to people. Yeah. Cause yeah. 
 
Amber Housley: And so anyway, that’s like the perfect example of reels that I made marketing the retreat a year ago are all completely work again. That is now I’m just putting the link to the up, you know, the new sales page for it. 
 
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 really good 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 a, um, 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 like a month when I joined. So that helped me just reduce my bill so much. And they have great customer service where now even beginners can get started on that platform because you can join live office hours every single 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 the fact you can join a Zoom call and share your screen and they like to answer it. They’re alive to get you going 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 out and 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, and like setting those things up. So, that’s what I would recommend for people to start with. I know Flowdesk gets all the love right now because it’s like really. Like sexy looking and polished and pretty, but it doesn’t have as many of the advanced features that you can get in a convert kit. 
 
Dolly DeLong: Yeah, that’s true. And I will say, I, I will admit I use flow desk and there’s like parts of me that’s I should just jump ship to Convert kit. But I’m like, just like the thought of. I know transferring everything is just I’m like, Oh, I’ll just 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 kind of keep tabs on all the software and see what people are doing. Cause so many of my people that like I coached within my business programs, like they’re using 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 your email. Like I just. Getting yourself on a platform that will allow you to do that. Like just future pacing kind of helps. 
 
Dolly DeLong: Okay. so you can host all of your courses within FG funnels. And it is all like talks with your email. Because like with me, like big system I use is Zapier. That’s how I like to make everything talk to each 
 
Amber Housley: other. And then I was so tired. I was so tired of giving Zapier money for all, 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, our sales funnels, and there are more things you can do in it that I don’t do. you can do all kinds of like it has all kinds 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 just haven’t yet. So there’s so much you can do, but like the three main ones that I was happy to get rid of. And Zapier, like the number of zaps we were doing before to get things to the active campaign, to get to Thinkific, to get to all the places was like going through the roof in billing. 
 
Dolly DeLong: I believe that. I believe that so much. Well, Amber, like you’re like slowly converting me over to FG Funnels. I know you got my mind spinning. I’m like, Oh, maybe I need to reassess my tech facts.
 
Amber Housley: I have a great backdoor link too. If you want the backdoor link, it’s amberhalsey. com slash FG Funnels. And it gets you, like a better rate for your 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 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 like literally a coaching session with you. Like just invoices. Seriously. I joke around about this. It was a lot of my guests. I’m like, just invoice me later. I’d this is amazing. Okay. I will also have this in the show notes for all the listeners. Okay. So going back to the conversation of marketing, you’re talking about how you map out your sales funnel for the actual event for the retreat. And then what is another aspect of mapping out and planning out your event and 
 
Amber Housley: retreat? Yeah. So, thinking about the buying 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 just make it a buying experience. That’s like really they’re excited about and they feel welcomed because I can’t tell you like 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 just show up and hope 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 in it. They feel prepared, they’re ready to go because I want it when they walk through the door. Like I know that I have the opportunity to, transform them in some way, and can’t do that. If they’re hindered by other things, like they didn’t know what to pack. They didn’t know where to arrive. They’re like scared of the other people that are there. They don’t know who they are. They think they’re all alone. There are so many things that can happen in an attendee’s mind after they push the purchase button that I can do a lot of other like little sorcery and tricks to make it a really good experience. And it 
 
Dolly DeLong: also sounds like this allows you to create content to email out about that sounds to me like just answering the FAQs.
 
Amber Housley: Yeah. Like 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 10 years, the window of attention has gotten so small. Whereas before someone would buy something from me six months out, say from the retreat. And then, you know, we’d, we’d email every single month and we’d, you know, get them prepared, get them 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 very interesting as a host because now I have to adapt things like almost still serve the way that 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 as 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, watching them evolve. But the one thing I remember about college students and I like would make fun, like sometimes if I had like rapport with them, I’d be like, Oh, you’re a classic college student. But mostly inside, I’d be like, wow, like you can tell them everything. And then like they act surprised when something is due or they act whoa, you never told me this. And after you emailed them, after you talk, talk to them in person, after you texted them and, and now I like to think, wow, they are now the adults in this world and like, they’ve kind of like taken that personality and they, they are now like adding to society and I like to laugh about it. They’re great, but I loved, I love them, but I just think that that’s so true, Amber, like they, the attention span of adults is this. Like this. Yeah. And like the way I parent my sons now my entire night like we I realized like it also has to do with like a whole vast thing like social media and like technology and all that stuff. But like we’re like, please just pay attention like we’re trying to help them to 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 on some for sure. And 
 
Amber Housley: I think too, 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, like who are juggling a lot, whether they have a family of their own, or they have, 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. And then when I get over that one thing and then it’s retreat time, my attention can go over to 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 amount of capacity to think. And I found myself actually, I. I didn’t understand it until recently. I went to, the retreat for a mastermind that I’m a part of. So I was the attendee. And I was one of those people where I was 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, oh 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 that people can go to that has everything all in one place. Whereas I found myself searching 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: Well, that’s a little good tangent on just like, just like knowing your, your clients. And, and I want to say, Amber, I, I fit in that middle age category, like where your ideal client, like, I’m like, yeah, that’s me. Cause as a mom, I’m just like, so focused. Okay. I just got to get through like right now when we’re recording it’s the holidays and I am just like, okay, I just 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 just 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 actually about the system. Like what happens when someone buys. Let’s do that. Let’s so when someone goes and buys, say inspired retreat, they make the purchase. They go on a landing page that has initial details that they need to know and get ready. And, while they’re doing that, while they land on the landing page, we start getting notifications on our side. So we’ve set up notifications. You can do notifications with an FG. And then also within, using make, we make a scenario to go and create a sauna task. And so, the team all gets an email notification that says 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 it’s motivating for me, as the host, and like, yay, like, you know, you just made a sale, like someone was interested. You’re like, so excited for this attendee. You can’t wait to get to know them. I usually find myself going and 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 who is our retreat concierge who will personally send a one-to-one email, that she has templated, but she customizes it to them, invites them if they want to get on a call, if they have any initial questions and just says we’re so excited, more details are coming. So 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: any other a couple more that are gonna happen here that 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 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 basically one table or one spreadsheet. If you’re not familiar with the air table, it’s more like a very like. Souped up Google spreadsheet. Um, I love Airtable. Yeah. Yes, and so we just, we like to have that, in Airtable. We have all our attendees in one place. And it has all of their information on it. In case we need to reach out to them. And then we’ve added additional fields. within that attendee management that has 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 with 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 also has great integration with a lot of other, our other tools. And it just, it’s a really pretty experience. So there are times when I like to pay for upgraded experiences and type form is one of them. And so that has. Lots of details on it. 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 too, under that 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 getting 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 we can put all that information on that air table. 
 
Dolly DeLong: Gotcha. This is all great. And the reason 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 want to plan out a retreat, an event, 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, to map this out before you actually, started putting everything together?
 
Amber Housley: I think it honestly was something organic where in the beginning it was like all 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 easier way to send to people yeah and then it was like oh let’s put that information in a spreadsheet and so then air table ended up being a better one and then we realized air table 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 10 years to figure out like, Oh, you could just have this all automagically happen for you. 
 
Dolly DeLong: Yes. I don’t know anything about FG Funnels. So that’s why I keep on asking about FG Funnels, but I use Dubsado for pretty much everything in my business. do they have FG Funnels have the capability, like the questionnaires, the like contracts, like 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 certain, projects and events, like not events, projects, one on one services I have with, clients, and students, and it auto-populates. So, the reason why I’m bringing that up is just like research your own, see what your tools are capable of before you like to make these, I’m just like a huge. Like proponent of making sure what you have in your tool belt works before I think these big purchases because, like I had no idea, like that Dubsado had certain capabilities and I’m glad I researched that, like with the questionnaires and like automating into certain smart fields, years ago and. So that’s why I’m just, 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, you 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. And so it becomes really easy for us to go and send emails to all of the attendees out of the email marketing using that tag. And so, we’ll communicate with them in the months leading up to it and more frequently as we get closer. But one thing that I found more recently, we’ve evolved a little bit is when they arrive on-site, what happens. 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 so that was where we were communicating when people were on site, you know, 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 it is. And the more on-site, we could say things like, Hey, we’re going to be started at this time or like any. You’ll find as you start to host events that you’re going to have the best intentions with your schedule, but things are going to flex, as things happen and need to be changed. Or there’s like weather things that happen. And so you’ve got to change 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 actually would go and script out things ahead of time in a Google doc and say here’s, here’s the best way we can communicate at least daily or several times a day. And so we changed the method of how we did that. And so we started doing text messages. And so I use Textiful. That’s one of my favorite text messaging, text platforms. And so we were doing that as a way because not everyone used Facebook. And so we could go in pre-plan out, um, messages again, ahead of time that says, good morning, we’ll see you at this time, whatever it is. Well, we started to realize after a couple of years of doing that, again, that allowed us to do planning, but it wasn’t as good on the fly. cause things would just change constantly. So you’d have to open up the whole platform and schedule out 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 free app you can download. It’s meant to be like a walkie-talkie of sorts that you can press a button and record, but what we found is it was easier to go and add people to a group chat for that and then be able to be in the moment. So we said, Hey, like here’s the app you want to download while you’re here on site, turn on notifications. So then you won’t miss anything. And that just gave us a lot more flexibility to just be. Updating, everything ahead of time. So that was like one thing that we do for attendee experience.
 
Dolly DeLong: I love that so much. So like communication, make sure everything’s because you’re right. I was just thinking 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. Cause I don’t purchase a lot of retreat experiences, or workshop experiences, only because I have little ones at home. The last time was in 2019 and it was the show at the United Conference. I don’t know how they communicated with everyone through a very specific app and they had created the app to message everyone. And it was very effective, like for me, at least like to know like where to meet, where to go, because it was a very overwhelming, like. 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 like how to communicate on the fly to people when things change, that’s super helpful and encouraging. And, um, I wanted to, give a 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’d like 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 like trying to affirm you right now, Amber, and make your head like explode right now. 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 about how to lead really good events, and how to execute well, like I, Can attest to that. Like I am purchasing from one of her, peers, like who 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 I couldn’t go. And so I’m trying to like 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 been on a lot of panels together too. I got to coach her for a year, which was exciting, but then we’ve been on panels because we love talking about events, both of us. 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’s also made me think of, and we were just talking about the text messaging versus like an app and things like that. I wanted to point out too, is the Voxer app is really good for smaller events. I would never put several hundred people on the Voxer app within a channel. that would be, yeah. And you can also do broadcast channels where people can talk and respond. So, I use the Voxer app for something that’s like 25 people or less. Anything larger than that, I would do a 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 that 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 any of these three main points that you just shared about like the systems of events and retreats?
 
Amber Housley: Yeah, I think the like final thing I would say for it, especially when it comes to attendee experience, and like for it also kind of goes into your marketing is knowing how important and valuable the attendee survey is. So at the end of the experience, already having that ready in advance, like even in the weeks leading up to it, you already get that in place. Like 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 like when the people leave and they’re maybe sitting at the airport or they’re in the air or wherever they’re at, or like the next day, we also 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 a great 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 of that. And so it’s so important to have that queued up because you as the host are going to be exhausted. It’s like the last thing, like when you come back from your retreat, you’re going to need a day or a couple of days of recovery. And just like quiet time where 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 that sort of thing. And so we always like to have that scheduled in advance. 
 
Dolly DeLong: I love that. and also a reminder to all the listeners and viewers, like Amber has like shared over 16 years of experience doing this. So I am very certain like in year one, you probably didn’t know all of these follow-up questions to ask. I am guessing. 
 
Amber Housley: Yeah. Yeah. No, it took, it took some time for me to figure it out. Okay. And because I think, and it’s the marketing person in me too, I know now the right questions to ask. So I get a great testimonial that I can then use to market in the future. Yeah. 
 
Dolly DeLong: I love that. So just. Just be patient with yourselves, listeners, viewers, be patient. And just like the fact, I love that Amber shared, like, you need to plan out like that. You will probably be exhausted, like after the event. So map out and plan out those follow-through emails, and testimonial survey requests so that, you can truly like rest. This has been a great episode. I’m excited about, getting, I don’t know. I’m just excited about listeners learning more about the systems and workloads behind retreats, events, and special events, and this is going to help out a lot of people. So I just 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. So you can find me over on Instagram, Amber Housley. You can also find me on Facebook that way too. I have a podcast called the Bloom and Grow show where I talk about a lot of 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 who are interested in hosting their retreat come experience one of my events, and then you can 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. Come slash Dream Retreat and check that out. And then if you liked anything that I shared today where you’re like, okay, Amber, like what are the emails? what does the content need to say? What are, you know, what would be the swipe files? What would be the things I put on the survey form, for that attendee experience? You can find all of that in my retreat planning program called 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 for you to 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, and especially I would love for you all to give Amber a follow and learn more from her. Cause I’ve, I’ve been loving learning from Amber. I think it’s like the past two years. I’ve been just following her on Instagram, loving her, and getting to know her and it’s. 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, like. 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 amazing muggle, and I will talk to you all next week. Bye. 

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