A senior living community’s activity calendar speaks volumes about the community. Whether the community is a life plan (CCRC), assisted living or memory care community, typically each has a monthly calendar of events showing what is available at the community each day.
Assembled by the community’s social or activity department, the monthly calendar illustrates the community’s personality. Some communities post their calendars on the community’s website while others only have the calendar as a handout or brochure insert.
Adult children, who may play an active role in their parent’s decision to move to a community, no doubt take a look at the calendar to see what their parent will be able to do once they are a resident.
As marketing consultants helping communities improve their traffic and sales results, we certainly take a look at the activity calendars too.
Here are some tips to appeal to adult children as well as prospective residents:
- Offer activities on the weekends—The reason people are moving to your community is to have opportunities to get out of their apartments or homes and be with other people. Sure it’s difficult to have staff working on weekends but a community needs to have entertainment and things to do on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Offer evening activities—Similarly, someone’s world shouldn’t revolve around the convenience of staff. Evenings can offer entertainment, discussions, lectures, films, and more.
- Exercise and fitness opportunities need to be as interesting as a local gym—Offering yoga and tai chi and Zumba as well as stretching is important. Try new classes too. The fitness center needs to be open daily. Group walking with a resident enlisted to lead the group is good too. If the community has a swimming pool; exercise classes should be held here. The activities department may say no one is interested in water aerobics but it still is important to offer this class and others. The adult daughter won’t ask how many people work out, she’s interested that the class is available.
- Happy hours—A once a month happy hour simply is out of date in today’s senior mind. They’ve come to expect nightly happy hours or at least three times a week. Serving a drink special is a nice touch and all happy hours should be complimentary. Kick up happy hour with live background music. Since many community’s happy hours are late afternoon at 4 or 4:30 and for just an hour, it’s a great gig for an entertainer. They can play at your community and probably elsewhere later in the evening.
- Celebrate and recognize national holidays. Your competitors are celebrating these events so your community’s calendar should also recognize holidays that typically are celebrated such as Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc.
- Celebrate big sporting events—From the Super Bowl to Triple Crown Racing, these are great reasons for a party. They really don’t require much effort with inexpensive décor at the dollar and party stores and themed food. Think out of the box too and maybe have a Daytona 500 Party for racing fans, Masters Golf party for golfers and Winter and Summer Olympics parties.
- Show classes on the calendar that expand the mind. Take advantage of local universities and their lifelong learning programs. Your community can be a host location. Your residents attend classes for free but the university sells subscriptions to the general public. This certainly is a great marketing tool bringing new people to the community each week.
- Offer foreign language classes—how thrilling it is to speak a few words and phrases in a foreign language. Many communities have bilingual staff who could be recruited to teach a weekly class and this won’t break the budget.
- Outings need to offer trips to places residents may not typically think about going. Open the door and expose residents to new experiences. Many parks have handicapped accessible walking paths and jitneys to eliminate extensive walking. Picnics at the beach are wonderful.
If your city has venues with group tickets, make these opportunities available too such as hockey, racetracks and casinos, football and basketball. Opera, concerts, etc. are good too.
Use a visitors and convention bureau’s guide if you need some ideas for different places to visit.
Finally, don’t forget prospective residents and their adult children are well traveled and have diversified experiences. A monthly calendar that is uninspired or seems more like a children’s day camp will either send a prospective family to the competition or not entice mom or dad to move.