I have a “side hustle” wellness business and as I continue to age, the population I want to work with gets older too. So I decided if that is whom I want to reach with my message of staying healthy as you age, then I need to find them. And how do I find them? Invite them to an event! Which I did.
I created Boomer Fest – a Resource Fair for Baby Boomers. Drawing on my professional skills of program development and event planning I started from scratch by assembling like-minded professionals looking to reach this population. That was easy because I was already involved in a Networking Group who were trying to reach Boomers as well. And so we started the process of creating the event. Here’s a step-by-step approach of how it unfolded in case you might want to do the same thing with your newly found “free time”.
Decide who you want to reach
Because I am a Boomer and am keenly aware of the health and social issues we face at this age, and I am aware that not all Boomers are ready for the life of retirement, I wanted to help my peers find the resources they need as they age – that they don’t even know they need to know about.
Decide what you want them to learn from the event
I struggled with what the retirement lifestyle was all about and followed a trial and error process when I finally “retired”. I was amazed to find that no one seems to prepare retirees for the next phase of life which I call Your Third Act. My mission then for this event was to provide the resources I felt they needed to be aware of and the options available to them for all the dimensions of a wellness lifestyle: social life, work life, spiritual support, physical activity, intellectual stimulation, emotional well-being, travel aspirations, volunteer opportunities, and active senior housing options.
Decide who can provide the answers Boomers are looking for
Once I decided how well-rounded I wanted the event to be, I started making calls and visits. That’s when the fun begins because someone knows someone else who knows someone else, and pretty soon I had identified 30 vendors for the event. And having them get to know me and me them, got me in touch with the people, groups, agencies and facilities that deal with the Boomer population. Which in turn positions me as an expert who can help them in the future with educational health programs that I have already designed for the Boomer population. So it became a win-win for both of us.
Secure a venue for the event
A new event center had just opened in the community where I live and I thought how perfect it would be to have Boomer Fest there – not only because it was a perfect venue, but because it was brand new people were curious to see it and that alone might draw them in. Of course there was a fee for the space so I had to come up with the money!
Create a budget
This is extremely important so you don’t lose money. Our plan was to break even and that is about what happened. Of course I did not pay myself for all my work, and if we do this again that issue will need to be resolved!
Revenue = $900
Vendors each paid $50
Non-profits were not charged
Expense = $875
Room rental - $750
Marketing Consultant - $125
This is a key issue not to be overlooked. I actually took on too much myself, but at least I delegated someone to arrange for music thru the PA and someone to sit at the registration table to check people in and out.
Arrange for volunteers
I did not think of this until the last minute when I didn’t have anyone to manage the registration table. Fortunately someone stepped in at the last minute, so I lucked out. I did discover later that there are a lot of groups including college students who are very willing to help out as long as they have prior notice.
Provide incentives to attend
I asked each vendor to provide a door prize at their booth, and we also had a grand prize drawing for a one night stay at the new adjoining hotel in a king room. In order to participate in that drawing I had each participant find the answers to questions from each vendor so I was assured that all vendors would have people stop and talk to them. The sheet of completed answers was then dropped in a box and we drew the winner from those sheets. We had 56 people complete the sheets and the winner was the perfect person. She had brought along two elderly friends who sat at a table while she went thru the exhibits. She was being very kind to them by taking them out for the day and I felt she was the perfect person to be rewarded for that kind gesture. The Universe works in amazing ways!
Promote the event
All vendors were responsible for promoting to their audiences thru newsletters, emails, social media, etc. We posted flyers around town and made up free tickets to give away. I contacted the local TV station who sent out a reporter and we were on the news at 6 and 10 that day. If we do this again I would contact the media at the beginning of the planning so they would partner with us and provide free promotion.
56 people attended, even tho I would love to have had 200. But everyone felt it was a good response since it was the first time we have done this and we only had 8 weeks to pull it off!
Followup evaluations from vendors and participants
I am still compiling evaluations from the vendors and most want this to happen again. As participants left the event and passed by the volunteer at the registration table, most mentioned that they loved the event and would like to see it happen again next year.
Debrief with planning committee and plan for next year
Our planning committee is very happy with the results and are on board to do this again. Our recommendations are:
Start planning sooner – at least 6 months before the event
Create a more extensive budget
Include a fee for the coordinator (that would be me!)
Secure sponsors to generate more revenue
Charge non-profits $25 each
Continue to charge vendors $50 each
Provide refreshments because food is always a draw – with few dollars to work with, we did get apples donated and water was free.
Consider having entertainment, round-table discussions, break-out sessions
So why did I share this with you? Because it’s never too late to take on a new challenge that has meaning and can give back to others who might need your talents and time. It doesn’t have to be this involved of course. It can be just what you want it to be. And you don’t have to ask permission from a boss!
Feel free to share new challenges you have embarked on to give your life more meaning in retirement.