If you’re experiencing this wonderful mix of excitement and apprehension sprinkled with a bit of debilitating fear relating to your turn hosting / coordinating / slaving over an upcoming family reunion... this blog entry is for YOU. And if our slightly concerned friend to the right accurately depicts your innermost feelings about this impending task... keep reading. Although I can’t make it go away, nor can I suddenly transport you 10 months into the future when all coordination is completed and you’re leisurely enjoying the BBQ, I can offer a few tips to help you along the way.
First, to abruptly address the elephant in the room, I will candidly state that Perfection Events does produce family reunion events—we’ve worked with clients to do as little as negotiate hotel pricing or as much as manage all communication, payments, contracts and each minute detail. BUT, this blog entry is not about us, it’s about you! As I said before, such as we have we give unto you… this blog is dedicated to providing you with tools for success whether you hire us or not.
Now that Horton’s been put on a time out, we’ll be moving right along to the good stuff… oh, and the tips below are listed in the order they should be applied.
1) Choosing your Committee (i.e. Project Team): OK, I know what you’re thinking: since when do I get to choose the committee?? So, perhaps I should have named this bullet Negotiating your Committee. The bottom line is, you have to work with these people for the next 10-12 months. These can be months of a committed team of individuals working together to accomplish a common goal, OR these can be months of you working your butt off while Aunt Hazel, Uncle Eddie, And Cousin Sam grab some popcorn and enjoy the show. So, to leave yourself some semblance of sanity, you will want get a team of folks that will 1) add value (are knowledgeable, are resourceful, etc.); 2) work with you (not grabbing for the popcorn). If you’ve been appointed a certain committee of individuals and you’re harboring a bit of doubt regarding such committee, my suggestion is to simply negotiate a few additional members to work with you. The more the merrier… literally in this case.
2) Outline Clear Expectations and a Timeline: This is fairly self-explanatory. Each member of your team should know their role and the expectations associated with their role on the team. Everyone; no exceptions. If Aunt Hazel is not going to be asked to do any real work, and is just there out of respect to weigh in, then oh so sweetly let her know that. On the other hand, if Cousin Jane is an excellent administrator, be specific about what you would like her to contribute to the team. After expectations are outlined, a timeline needs to be set with milestones, action items and deadlines. Once expectations are tied to the timeline, you’re ready to hit the ground running.
3) Shop Around, Negotiate, and be generous! Shop around for your venues and vendors, negotiate whatever they offer you, and be generous in your pricing structure to leave yourself a little room for the unexpected. There is no reason to take the very first offer (then you’ll never know if the other hotel would have offered you a better deal), and there is no reason to go bankrupt because of poor estimation. A good rule of thumb for family reunions is to add 10-15% to your cost calculations to ensure you have enough wiggle room for the “oops” and “just in case” instances that will most definitely occur.
4) Communicate Concisely. OK, so here’s my pet peeve… When I already have emails to wade through at work and at home, the last thing I need is a 4 page-when-printed email about the upcoming family reunion – especially if this email contains no items for action, and is merely a save the date! This little tip is further down the list in terms of order but is high on the list in terms of importance. People are more likely to actually read your communique when they see an obvious end in sight. So, carefully consider the purpose of all communication (whether print or electronic) and be fiercely dedicated to maintaining the focus and brevity of these items. This will not only positively affect your response rate, but it will also save you some dollars when it comes to postage… and we all know every dollar counts.
5) Let Your Juices Flow. Be creative! I know this seems like elementary advice, but it’s so easy to get caught up in stress of ensuring we hit that home run as this year’s host, that we forget the purpose of the reunion is for leisure and fellowship. So, remember to give yourself and your team the opportunity as you begin to actually put together the events of the reunion to be really creative and find things that can be different about this reunion. Whether it’s adding a theme, or changing the basic lineup of events, make sure to pack a little creative oomph in the lineup, and enjoy!
There are all sorts of other things we could go into like online registration, and unique giveaways, but this blog entry is getting a bit lengthy, so rather than throw my own advice of communicating concisely to the wind, I will say just hit me up with an email if I’ve left you feigning for a bit more info. Otherwise, I say, go forth and plan!