Great Events Can Fill Your Building

Are you afraid of events or do you embrace them? How innovative are your events? Are they attracting qualified prospects to your community? The sole purpose of events is to have new prospects walk in your door and say, “Wow! This is where I want to live.” This chapter goes into detail on ideas and how to put on a great event.

What is your definition of an event? For example, the community picnic is a wonderful celebration for all residents and their families. It is not an appropriate event to invite prospects because they don’t want to see the sea of wheelchairs and walkers from the assisted living and skilled nursing residents. Please do not call this a marketing event. The community picnic is an event for existing residents and should be handled by resident services/activity directors. Marketing directors can help, but they need to stay focused on new sales or there won’t be any.

So how many marketing events should you be having? My recommendations:

  • Large events should be held three to four times a year.
  • Small events should be one to two times a month, depending on occupancy needs and your ability to attract new faces.

Let’s break each of them down from start to finish for ideas and planning to produce effective events.

A large event draws one hundred to three hundred attendees. Who do you invite? First on your guest list is your wait list. There are people percolating on your wait list who just need a subtle push to call the moving van and order change of address cards. If your event is done properly, it should result in three to five move-ins in the next quarter. Secondly, one-third of your guests must be new faces. These will come from two sources: advertising and resident referrals. I recommend a quarter page ad in your local newspaper. Please see recommendations for a newspaper ad in Media Buying, Advertising, Public Relations, and Community Building with a Skinny Piggy Bank. The third group to invite is friends of the residents. Many communities get 50 percent or more of their new leads from resident referrals.

Tip: The best way to get resident referrals is to let residents know that they have an opportunity to attend this fabulous event if they bring a guest who is interested in moving to your community. Hello? Knock, knock? Many of your residents’ friends probably qualify age-wise and financially to move to your community. Start informing the residents two months ahead of the event.

Tip: Make the event something exciting enough that residents will be able to enthusiastically endorse it and want their friends to attend. Do not have the CEO or a botanist describing the cross section of a leaf to be the main speaker. You may as well have an event to watch your newly painted walls dry. No offense to CEOs, but you are not a big enough draw. A resident’s Disney family vacation slide shows are for the residents to see, not your prospects. That theme will make your guest feel grumpy, dopey, and sleepy. Now if you wanted to invite the real Mickey Mouse and give away a trip for two to Disneyland…but that might be too expensive and that would be goofy.

To summarize your event attendance goals:

  • Approximately one-third new faces
  • One-third wait list members
  • One-sixth will be second looks (their second time in your community)
  • Less than one-sixth will be residents (who have invited a new face guest)

Planning should start a minimum of three months before the event date. Begin planning with the end result in mind. An event starts with an idea…

This was an excerpt from “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full.” The book has step by step instructions on how to have an excellent event.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at  If your curiosity is piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email  Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: Blog: