Are Your Events in a Rut? Three Strategies to Rebuild Senior Living Census by Refreshing Events

Feb 13, 2024 | Industry Trends

By Andrew Hoffman

In the ever-evolving field of senior living, keeping things fresh and interesting is essential to attracting prospects and keeping your residents engaged. Ohio-based Westerwood is a standout example of innovation. Working with Love & Company, the community recently breathed new life into its events, and the results were impressive. For sales and marketing directors in senior living, it’s time to reconsider your approach to events and bring in some new ideas to revitalize your community.

Stagnation to Innovation: Westerwood’s Journey

Westerwood faced the challenge of lackluster community events that weren’t resonating with prospective residents. Working with Love & Company, Director of Sales and Marketing Sami Baker recognized the need for a strategic overhaul. She saw her events needed to be more engaging and showcase what made Westerwood unique in order to drive interest, so everyone worked together to make it happen.

Westerwood discovered that prospects were looking for more than just informative sessions. That meant rethinking the traditional lunch-n-learn events. The events needed to offer experiences that connected with the diverse interests of this community, creating a renewed sense of excitement.

Three Key Takeaways for Senior Living Community Sales and Marketing Directors

The success story of Westerwood brings three key takeaways to the forefront for senior living sales and marketing directors looking to refresh their event programs:

1. Think Beyond Lunch-n-Learns:

Westerwood excelled by breaking away from the traditional mold of events centered around meals and lectures. You too can explore creative avenues that align with the interests of your residents. Whether it’s interactive workshops, cultural events, or themed gatherings, expanding your event horizon can significantly impact engagement.

2. Pick Themes that Highlight Your Differentiators:

Every senior living community has its unique strengths and offerings. Westerwood found success by strategically selecting event themes that showcased their differentiators. Whether it’s highlighting specialized amenities, wellness programs, or community partnerships, weaving these elements into event themes can elevate the experience for your attendees. Westerwood did this in the form of a brighter, more colorful direct mailer for each event to reflect the community’s “Our campus is your canvas” theme while also hinting at the fact that people who live at Westerwood are seeking a somewhat different style of retirement living.

Five cover mockups of the direct mailers for Westerwood.

3. Collaborate for Success:

Westerwood’s path to success underscores the power of collaboration. Engage your community members, staff, and partners in the event planning process. This inclusive approach not only generates fresh ideas but also fosters a sense of community ownership, making events more impactful and memorable.

 “We made the change from offering two events a month to offering one event each month and found that attendance was stronger. It is important that the events benefit the targeted audience, so we offer both educational seminars and fun events. Each direct mail piece is personalized to make it stand out. There has been success in combining the direct mail pieces with digital/content marketing.”
Sami Baker, Director of Sales & Marketing-Westerwood

The Numbers Tell the Story

Westerwood kicked off its new event approach in January 2023 and saw immediate results. More people registered for events, and an impressive 70-90% of those who registered actually attended. By September, just nine months in, Westerwood welcomed 21 new residents, increasing occupancy from 67% to 77%.

Breathe New Life into Your Senior Living Events

So, are your events in a rut? The Westerwood success story serves as a beacon of inspiration, urging sales and marketing leaders to embrace change and infuse vitality into their event programs. By implementing these three key takeaways, you can rebuild census by refreshing events and creating experiences that resonate with both current and prospective residents.

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