by: Alexandra Harjung, CMP
Leisure Group Sales & Convention Service Manager
I have been with the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau for two years now and one of my daily duties is to assist with reunion planning, which could be a family reunion, military reunion or high school reunion.
Regardless of what size or type of a reunion you have, there are similar steps to follow to plan an event. I would like to share a few tips on planning a successful reunion:
- First, put together a planning committee of 3-4 members. Distribute the tasks evenly, so no one gets burnt out with duties.
- Plan early, at least one year in advance. This allows reunion members to save for a long-awaited gathering.
- Decide on the location or at least have a few options in mind, based on how far the members are willing to travel.
- Put together a proposal with all the reunion needs and details. Don’t forget to include the dates, sleeping rooms needed each night, types of rooms, meeting space requirements, food & beverage needs (for example, do you prefer to make your own meal or have food catered) and the estimated budget.
- Instead of calling on the potential properties, contact the local Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) and ask them to assist with the proposal distribution. This means that a CVB sales representative will send out your request for proposal (RFP) to a list of appropriate properties on your behalf. After collecting all the necessary information, the Bureau will present you with one document with all the property bids so you can make a decision on the location of the reunion. This service can be very time-effective for the committee. Most CVBs provide this service at no charge.
- While working with the CVB representative, ask for a list of group-friendly attractions and dining options, along with some sample itineraries. These could come in handy when putting together an agenda for a reunion.
- If your group wants to enjoy a budget-friendly meal outdoors, consider renting a shelter at one of the area parks and plan a reunion potluck. Make sure to check all the park regulations with the Parks & Rec Department.
- Find out if the reunion destination CVB offers any convention services for group events. These could include welcome bags with local brochures, group nametags or fun giveaway items to create a memorable experience.
- When onsite, stop by a local Visitor Center to check on the deals in the area and a list of free and paid attractions available to the public.
- On the last day of the reunion, have a post-event meeting to collect the feedback from the members. Don’t forget to file the information, since it will be very useful when planning another successful reunion.
Do you have a reunion in your future?