Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Industry Briefs

Meeting and tourism organizations must handle hundreds of events successfully each year to thrive, just as families planning reunions must also handle lots of variables. When they work together they can enjoy the same results-a successful return on investment for all involved. The following excerpt from Chapter 2 of my unpublished book, Finding the Rest of Me: African American Family Reunions , describes the family side of Organizing the Reunion .

A family reunion organized on one side of the family helps to motivate the organizing of the other side. Thus, some families attend from two to as many as four reunions a year, each one requiring a great deal of work. It's like organizing a large conference. And, the fact that reunions are accomplished so regularly speaks to widespread commitment and dedication to family.

Many reunions begin with family get-togethers.After a while, someone decides there needs to be more than people just sitting around and socializing. The more years the family holds reunions, the more they think of new activities. Reunion organizers try to plan something for everyone, and this is where meeting planners, tourism folks, restaurants, amusement parks, nightclubs, etc. come in.

The steps for organizing a reunion are many. Committees must be formed, a facility secured, a mailing list developed, costs for registration determined, surveys conducted, telephone calls made, and letters or emails sent (several times to keep family up on the plans). The program is planned, a speaker obtained, travel coordinated and transportation from the airport or train arranged. Meals are organized and food is purchased for the picnic and/or banquet. Fundraising activities must be included to help defray costs of calls, postage, printing, and deposits.

Organizers may plan a variety of events over a three-day weekend but there is a standard format for practically all families. Friday night is hospitality at a reception. Saturday is filled with activities generally concluding with a banquet or special meal, and Sunday morning is worship.

Someone must coordinate all of this. And whether a large team or a few individuals, difficulties can arise, and there are times when you feel like giving up. Yet, families have a great deal of fun in the planning. The Johnson/Vance Reunion committee, for example called themselves the "3 E's": excited, enthusiastic and ecstatic. Excited because they were looking forward to seeing family members whom they had not seen in two years; enthusiastic about the plans they were making for their reunion; and ecstatic because their plans were developing well and the fundraisers had been successful.