Tips on Planning a Successful Family Reunion

Tips on Planning a Successful Family Reunion

As a meetings professional who specializes in working with small groups, I firmly believe that anyone who takes on the responsibility for planning and coordinating a family reunion is the strongest of souls! While your patience will probably be tested during the process, these nuggets of wisdom may provide some assistance that will allow you to have a better handle on the planning and implementation process.

1. Establish an agreed-upon form of communication with your attendees.

Will you use email, messaging, texting or social media like a Facebook group or event page for dates and web link for a housing list? When determining which platform to use for communications, be sure to ensure that everyone is a user (or is open to being a user) on that platform. It’s also an excellent idea to keep the event communications on a single channel.

2. Dates: Locking down agreed upon dates is a must.

Using an online polling tool such as a Doodle Poll will allow you to figure out what date ranges will and will not work for a majority of your family. If you have kids attending, school breaks may be your best scheduling option.

3. Location: Where do most of your family live?

Consider focusing on a central geographic area that would be the most convenient option for everyone. Is it a one-day drive location? Is it accessible and affordable for airline flights? What is the weather in the area for those dates? What is the seasonality of the possible venue? Some locations can provide more value on shoulder season dates vs. high season dates.

4. What is the purpose of the reunion?

Is it being held to celebrate a milestone such as an anniversary, birthday or wedding? That is a key question that will drive the design of the activities/agenda. What activities are at your ideal venue that would support your agenda? What is the interplay with the children and adults?

5. Accommodations: How will the reservations be made for the guest room block (i.e., number of rooms) that you contract with the hotel?

An efficient way to manage the process is by having the hotel provide an online booking option for your event so that the attendees can make their guest room reservations online for themselves. Otherwise, you will be serving as a reservationist/travel agent which is time-consuming! It’s imperative to obtain a commitment from family members that they will book their rooms at the host hotel and to not go out on their own looking for better deals. If they are allowed to do that, you will be stuck with an unfilled contracted room block. Most hotels will require a contract for your block of rooms, and there will be performance clauses regarding your use of these rooms so be sure to understand the ramifications and financial responsibilities if those room blocks are not fully utilized.

6. Meal Arrangements: How are the meals going to be handled?

Contracting with your hotel’s catering department is a great way to feed a large group. Obtain the catering menus early for pricing. Keep in mind that you will need to provide a guaranteed attendance count 48 to 72 hours in advance of the event. You may also consider allowing attendees to handle their meal options at the hotel restaurant. While a family member might suggest that pot-luck could be fun, hotels typically cannot allow large quantities of outside to be food brought into and served at the hotel. To do so might be a violation of health codes or licensing rules. And after all, they are in the business of selling food & beverage. Besides, don’t you want to maximize your time with your loved ones instead of acting as a caterer?

These suggestions are just a start, but they should assist you to get on the right track early on with your planning so that your reunion so that it will be an event to remember.

Written By Lauren Ross

For more information on booking your next Family Reunion, please contact Lauren Ross, Sales Manager for Small Groups, Asilomar Conference Grounds.


The Asilomar Team

Asilomar Hotel & Conference Grounds, with over 105 years on the Monterey Peninsula, offers a unique setting that combines beautiful architecture, historic charm and a treasure trove of memories for our guests. With plenty of activities for people of different ages and interests - you will never have a dull moment here. With its windswept location on the California coast – Asilomar is exactly where you should be if you seek to disconnect and unplug from your everyday routine. In the spirit of Asilomar’s rich history, we’re excited to share our new blog adventure. Our Sales and Conference Services Team have created great content and helpful ideas regarding group business, travel, weddings, and Asilomar’s sustainability efforts.