Dates & Location
Your choices of locations are endless and depend on group size, budget, time of year and the type of activities best suited to attendees. Start the search for a location as early as possible for the best rates and most choices. If you’re flexible on the dates, you’ll also have a chance at better rates, considering peak and off-peak seasons for certain locations. It helps to have attendees input on good dates: whether or not holidays are appropriate for the celebration, etc. Choose final dates based on what works for the majority of members—you can’t please everyone!
Some things you should consider when planning the location for your gathering:
- Are there plenty of activities that will entertain members of all ages, from kids to senior citizens for family and church reunions?
- Does the location have indoor space for those who must get out of the sun, rain, wind, etc?
- Is there a quiet place for parents with infants who need to accommodate naps, feedings, diaper changes, etc?
- Also, the farther people have to travel to get to the reunion, the longer the reunion should last so that they feel that their investment of time and money is worth the trip.
Always think in terms of safety of your location, especially when there are children attending family reunions. Any place with outdoor recreation is a good choice, with plenty of space for children to play and for multiple concurrent events. You’ll want to make sure you consider the events that you’d like to have when choosing a location—will you need access to a kitchen, grills, tables and chairs? Does the facility have clean restrooms, good parking, and enough room for everyone expected to attend? Is the facility taking steps to curb its energy use? Look for hotels and other venues that are “going green.”
Your local Conference and Visitors Bureau (CVB) can be very helpful in providing assistance. In addition to hotels, consider conference centers, state parks with housing facilities, resorts, and college campuses. All of the activities do not have to be held where people are housed. Picnics may be held in a park or banquets may be held at the local museum. Also check with the CVB for major events around the dates that you are considering. This could either be to avoid large crowds and filled hotels during a certain time period, or to plan to make a festival or other event part of the attraction to your reunion! When considering local lodging accommodations, look for options in a range of price categories (budget, moderate, and higher-end) to make sure there is something for everyone. If you decide to reserve a block of rooms at several hotels, make sure to look for lodging within your group’s per-night budget, the location of the hotel and proximity to the reunion site, possible shuttle service, amenities like pools, kitchenettes, etc., and meeting space or catering services, if necessary.
Portions of this text were inspired by The Family Reunion Institute, School of Social Administration, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, 215-204-6244.