Tuesday, March 06, 2007

First, let me say that you have not fully experienced life until you have had a weekend retreat for 30 scrapbookers scheduled for almost a year, then found out 10 days before the event that the hotel you have booked is going to be closed for renovation during your retreat! Yikes!

Last summer, Karin and I had methodically toured Branson, searching for just the right place for Scrapbook Generation's spring retreat. We signed a contract, paid a hefty deposit, and then proceeded to advertise our event and collect people's money. Periodically, I had corresponded with my contact at the hotel, and even spoke to her in person in January. We went over every detail of times, meals, and other activities. She just neglected to tell me that the hotel would be CLOSED March 2-4! I started to have a bad feeling when I called in February and most of the hotel's phone numbers were out of service. I finally found one that had a recording that mentioned renovations, but no dates were listed. I started sending a barrage of emails, faxes, and phone calls. No answer.

Finally, 10 days before our retreat, the group sales person returned one of my messages and acted like she had never heard of us. According to her, we had
a. not paid a deposit
b. not signed a contract
c. not done much of anything

I told her that
a. the hotel had deposited our check months ago
b. we HAD signed a contract
c. she was going to cause me to have a nervous breakdown

We produced the cancelled check and other documents, but that didn't help the situation much. The hotel was not going to open until April 1, and instead, she would help us find a spot at one of their "sister properties." After I explained to her that a bed and breakfast she mentioned would not be quite big enough, she asked if the location had to be in Branson. At that point, I decided that we would be better off finding our own new place than having her help!

The next day, after a few phone calls, I was beginning to be a little scared. Many of the hotels in Branson are closed in March, and the ones that were open all seemed to be booked for other events. Finally, I found one that was available. Karin and I made a quick trip south, looked things over, and quickly wrote a deposit check. We were so relieved!

Fast forward to March 2, and Scrapbook Generation's Wild West scrapbooking retreat went on as planned, just at a different location. The ladies involved were very gracious about the change, even though the accomodations were not what we had planned.

Here's what they had to say about the event...

"Being a 'first-timer' I was so impressed with everything -- but not surprised! The snacks, personalized goodies, classes, everything was so great."

"Thank you for a fabulous retreat -- as always! Great prizes, great fun, great friends. Great work, Debbie and Karin!"

"You girls are great. Awesome decor in the crop area. The snacks were delicious. I love how organized it was."

"Like it that we had more room to work!"

"This is my first time for the big weekend and I love it. I love the drawings, it creates excitement. Very well organized! The breakfast was not so great, but everything else was wonderful. Looking forward to next time."

"It was a great weekend! You all did great finding a place and getting it all set up! Thanks for a great weekend."

"This was my first scrapbook retreat and I thought it was excellent! You run a retreat just like your business, very professional and organized excellently! Theme was lots of fun and food was great. The wait staff at the Honeysuckle Inn were incredible, maybe this was meant to be! Very nice hospitality! Thank you SO much. I will return to a retreat again! Love you, love your store!"

"What you are doing well -- always trying to make it better, making sure everyone has what they need and with a smile. Conference room was wonderful, rooms are standard hotel rooms, not the Hilton, but we didn't expect that!"

"Like the large area to work in. Karin did great on the snacks. I really like coming to the retreats."

"What a fantastic event you have put together! I felt so welcome even though I knew few people. The classes were great and I appreciated the smaller size of the classes."

"The scrapbook room was very roomy, and the extras, like goodie bags, snacks, were presented very nicely and were greatly appreciated. Thanks for a job well done."

"I enjoyed it very much. It was well-organized, lots of space for working and the food was good."

" Best -- theme expression in a variety of ways...theme handmade gifts for each participant...organization...recovery from 'oops, I forgot to tell you we're closed for renovations'...bestest, mostest creative classes."

"The decor was well done! Your organizing and hard work should be commended. This was my first retreat and I had a great time! The meals were okay. However, the snacks were awesome! Thank you for all the goodies and for the opportunity!"

"Great weekend! Thanks for all the goodies and the table decorations were great. I had a wonderful time and hope to return."

"Nice facility and good food, great goodies and decor and warm hospitality. I have enjoyed it. I don't have any suggestions for improvement -- it's been fabulous."

"Perfect! Loved the space! Great snacks and prizes. Wow!"

"Wonderful weekend! Can't think of a thing that would make it better! Thanks!"

"Scrapbooking room was great! Lots of fun, great time!"

"I really enjoyed myself. I was afraid I would be by myself, but everyone was very nice and included me. I thought you ladies did an excellent job. Thank you! It was wonderful, and the classes were great, too!"

"Awesome, awesome, awesome! Everything was done so nicely. We had such a great weekend!"

"The weekend was wonderful! I liked the extra space we had in the conference room! Thank you for putting on such a wonderful retreat! Your hard work is much appreciated! I look forward to the next one."

"You guys always do a terrific job. Your decor and snacks were wonderful. The crop room was roomier. Overall, we had a great time! You guys are great."

"I have really enjoyed myself. I am looking forward to the fall."

"This is the first retreat I have been to, and I thought it was wonderful! Very organized, fun and exactly what I hoped for."

Scrapbook Generation already has one of its two fall 2007 retreats scheduled for the first weekend of November in Eureka Springs. Karin and I are going to Branson later this week to continue our search for the perfect location there. We will be trying to book a place for early October. Registration for both retreats will begin in late May or early June.