November 29, 2011

November is coming to an end–have you begun planning your family reunion yet? Oh that’s right you all are probably getting ready for the holiday season. Writing your gift list and checking twice? Did you forget that November is Family Reunion PLANNING Month? Remember to organize a successful reunion it takes at least 9 months to plan the event.   68% of reunion organizer started planning their reunions one year or longer ahead of the event including 21% who started two years in advance. If you haven’t started, don’t fret. You still have time to get y0ur planning together.

To help you get a head start I’m going to give you 5 “Must Have” Reunion Planning Tips to make your next reunion stress free and successful.

  1.  Choose a “GROUP CONNECTOR”: This is known as the leader. This person is THE main contact for all things reunion! I am not against committees, but I do believe there has to be someone is charge. When someone has to deal with hotel contracts, payments to vendors, or assign responsibilities it should be one person to avoid confusion. If you think choosing one person to handle the details will be problematic then I suggest you hire a professional reunion planner. If not, be ready for the planning of your reunion to be long and arduous. Too many chiefs…
  2. Time of year: Establishing a reunion date is crucial and must be made before other decisions are made. You can either have the “group connector” chose a date or send out a quick survey to assess the best time of year to hold the reunion. However, if you choose to survey the family be sure that one family has one vote, there is a deadline for voting, and that you give them a maximum of 3 choices (no write in please). No matter how hard you try or how pure your intentions, you will not find a date that is perfect for everyone.  Just try your hardest and get as many people as you can to attend.  Bonus tip: Do not hold your reunion on short notice or on a long holiday weekend (unless it is already a long standing tradition). Most people will already have things planned and your attendance will surely suffer.
  3. Location: Now that you have chosen a date it is time to find out where you will hold the event. The earlier you decide where to have your reunion, the greater your chances are to get exactly what and where your want it to take place. You will also be able to negotiate better deals with hotels, parks, and other local vendors if you have more time to plan.  I strongly encourage you to contact the city’s local convention centers and let them know when you are coming. They will be so happy to hear that you are bringing a large group who will most likely spend lots of money in their hometown. They might even give you some free stuff!!
  4. Budget: How much will it cost? There is really no such thing as a free lunch or a free reunion! Just like any event executing a reunion is not cheap, and someone has to pay for the food, t-shirts, etc.  My suggestion is to have a registration fee (include an initial deposit), so everyone attending is responsible for a portion of the expenses. The group connector, or professional reunion planner, should add up all the cost and come up with a reasonable cost per person. How you set your fees is up to you, but just make sure it is as fair as possible to avoid conflict between group members.
  5. Notify guest early  You have a leader, a location, date and a price for you next family reunion. Now it’s time to invite family & friends! I suggest that as soon as you have a date send an email, letter, or spread the date by word of mouth so they can SAVE THE DATE!  Within a month of finalizing all of the above make sure you give them CLEAR instructions on how to register, where to make reservations, and a tentative agenda. This will allow your guests to prepare not only financially but it will give them ample time to make travel arrangements, put in vacation time and help the group connector (if necessary) by joining any available committees.

Remember there are a number of things that are required to make sure your reunion goes right and the 5 tips above should get you headed in the right direction. The earlier you begin the more time you will have to plan a successful reunion and avoid stress!

Always with you & WITH THEM,



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