If the thought of planning your upcoming family reunion, military reunion or class reunion is keeping you up at night, it’s time to put your infomercial-watching days behind you. My four-step planning checklist ensures a successful event! (Or you can attend my FREE Reunion Planning Workshop in February, but more on that later.)
Why four steps and not five, you ask? Because you’ve already crossed the first item off your list: You picked Arlington, TX for your reunion or event location. Now that you’ve made one smart move, our team of expert event planners is ready to help you make a few more....that includes me!
I’ll help you find preferred hotel rates, steer you towards awesome venues, and tell you the best way to eat a Pink Thing at Six Flags Over Texas without getting “brain freeze.” Yep, I'm just that good.
STEP ONE: Book it, baby.
Set your date: With so many incredible things to do, a central location, and tons of hotel/motel options, Arlington’s a place where events tend to book fast and early. That means you need to lock in your dates for your big event as soon as you can.
Be flexible if possible: If you can target more than one event date(s), you’ll likely have more choices. Arlington hotels and venues can usually offer less expensive rates and increased availability during non-peak tourism times, especially winter. You can expect to look a little harder and pay a bit more during the late spring, summer and early fall – but there are also more things to do in Arlington during those times, so it’s a fair trade off.
Give realistic numbers: We know how it is. People have good intentions to attend your reunion or event, but then life gets in the way. It makes predicting attendance hard to do - but even so, we have to know how many people you’re expecting in order to do things for you, like pricing and block hotel rooms for instance. So let’s think about some of the best methods for predicting event or reunion attendance:
One simple but effective guideline is the 50/30 rule: Make a list of everyone you think has at least a 50% chance of attending your event, and then take 30% off of that number to come up with your predicted attendance figure. As you’re chewing on that, here are a few other things you’ll want to consider as well:
- Overestimating can cost you, in the form of additional charges for meeting space or hotel rooms that you end up not needing.
- Will people bring spouses, children, or work colleagues to your event or reunion? Or will they come alone?
- For reunions: Are people going to want to stay with friends and family VS getting a hotel room?
- Don’t bank too much on social media RSVPs. Saying “yes” to a Facebook event isn’t nearly as firm a commitment as responses made in person, by mail, by email, on an eVite, or via a check!
STEP TWO: Holler for help.
And it’s the best kind of help – FREE assistance from the Arlington CVB! Once your preferred and “second choice” dates are approved by your reunion committee or your boss, it’s time to get pricing quotes and then choose your location(s), with a little help from yours truly, Scott Poland, at the Arlington CVB.
Use your time wisely: if you’re still negotiating dates with your team, hold off on contacting us until you settle things. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of having to start the process all over again.
Also, don’t go rouge on us: Once you’ve put our team to work, just sit back and let us do the preliminary leg work for you. Don’t issue your own separate requests for hotel and event venue pricing after you’ve contacted us - doing so will cause confusion, frustrate the hotel and venue managers, and waste everyone’s time.
Before you contact us, it’s helpful if you’ve thought about the following:
What kind of amenities do you need? Are your guests expecting airport shuttle service, free Wi-Fi, computer or printer access, wheelchair access, room service, workout facilities, etc?
Do you need a full or limited service hotel? Full-service hotels offer tons of meeting spaces and amenities, plus the convenience of having everything under one roof. That includes on-site catering – but that means you can’t bring your own food. Limited service hotels allow you to bring your own food or have food delivered - and in Arlington, most of them offer complementary breakfasts and in-room or in-suite kitchens.
STEP THREE: Execute your contracts.
Once I’ve helped you lock in a hotel or meeting venue, you should contact the sales rep that we worked with on your behalf and complete your negotiations and execute your contract.
One of the most important items you’ll want to discuss is pricing for all possible room variations (as in rooms with a king bed, suites, rooms with double beds, etc.)
After you’ve got your contract, please let me know so I can drop off a little gift before you arrive!
STEP FOUR: Plan your activities.
The free help doesn’t stop once you ink a deal with your hotel! Once you let me know that you’ve got a contract in hand, I’ll circle back with you with some bright ideas about guest speakers, entertainment, things to do in Arlington and more – plus plenty of free maps and visitors guides to help you pull off a first-class event.
By the way, here’s something to know about transportation to help you get to all of those activities: In addition to the Arlington MAX, Enterprise Rental and other paid transportation options, the Arlington Trolley runs daily during our peak season – and best of all, it’s complementary for all paid guests who are staying at participating hotels in the Arlington entertainment district. Find out more at arlingtontrolley.org
If you feel a sudden rush of motivation and are ready to be your family's reunion planning hero, join me at a FREE reunion planning workshop:
Saturday, February 18, 2017 ~ 8 am-noon
If you think this blog post was helpful, you ain't seen nothin' yet!! Join us for a half day workshop with our expert meeting planner that will include checklists and timelines for planning, how to find the right lodging options, money savers, itinerary building for all age groups, and many other tips to make your event fun for everyone. Planners will also learn how to tap into the Arlington CVB for helpful and valuable services, most of which are complimentary. Continental breakfast will be served, and you will have time to visit with some of Arlington's greatest attractions and hotels. They'll have plenty of door prizes to give away as well! Space is limited so register now for FREE at www.arlington.org/reunions