| Convention and Visitors Bureaus 4
Are you wondering what a convention and visitors bureau (CVB) can do for your reunion? Learn more
at "What conventions and visitors bureaus can do for you." Then, contact the CVB in your city or away because they are there to help and most of their services are free.
Great new reunion planning tool
Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street and the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (MAC), a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB), have launched the first-ever multicultural travel Web site, www.philadelphiamac.org. The site enables family reunion planners to begin exploring Philadelphia's wealth of African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American visitor points of interest online. Family reunion planners can also explore Philadelphia's restaurants, shops, nightlife and sightseeing by visiting the site.
The Greater Hartford, Connecticut, Tourism Bureau and CVB have a new Visitors Guide, an essential ingredient if your reunion is anywhere in their area. The new Guide consolidates information from myriad brochures in one 114 page book. Places to stay and go, entertainment, sports, recreation, shopping and restaurants are all listed for your convenience. Self-guided walking tours follow several historic trails of interest. Contact 800-446-7810; http://www.enjoyhartford.com.
Nearby Connecticut River Valley & Shoreline Visitors Council (CRVSVC) is midway between Hartford and New Haven. An area rich in recreational opportunities also has many historic museums of interest including the New England Air Museum, the Military Historians Museum, the historic ship Nautilus and the Submarine Museum. Trips on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat offer yet another perspective of the area. The area is very popular with military reunions including the 10th Armored Division whose planner said they'd never found a place as accommodating. Ron Cohen, the sales manager of the Radisson in Cromwell is a retired military officer who caters to military reunions, recently for the USS Nevada, USS Tennessee and the USS Ranger. The 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron was but one of a couple dozen recent reunions held at Holiday Inn Cromwell. Family reunions are a specialty at Sunrise Resort in Moodus which caters to families some of whom have returned for decades. Contact Laura Falt at CRVSVC 800-486-0028 and Sunrise Resort at 800-225-9033.
Convention and Visitors Bureau makes a difference for the Burney family
Wade Knight, Reunion Chairperson, Burney Family Reunion 2000, approached the Junction City, Geary County, Kansas, Convention and Visitors Bureau to begin his reunion planning. The CVB made the initial reunion announcement mailing and included area brochures. They furnished sources for the barbecue in a city park, t-shirts, catering, pin-on name tags for everyone and are providing a bus for a tour of Junction City including a tour of Russell Stovers Candy Company and nearby Fort Riley.
The Burney family has a long history compiled in eighteen enormous books of information on all branches of the family; Bibles, public records and many tombstone rubbings. There are no great generals or captains of industry but there is a Burney, California, named after one of their ancestors.
According to Knight, "The reunion, to date, has been pretty shaky. It began in 1994 and was to be held every two years, alternating between Nebraska and Springfield, Missouri, where about half the family lives. The 1996 Springfield reunion was great but interest faded and the next chairperson was having a terrible time getting anyone to attend in 1998. To make it a total disaster she passed away the day before the reunion! I opened my big mouth and offered to host the year 2000 event."
For the second mailing, which included prices, the CVB prepared forms and a family historian prepared mailing labels. Knight will contact local businesses to provide items for door prizes or souvenirs. The motel is furnishing a "Hospitality Room" for reunion headquarters.
Other activities include "Remembrances - Skits - Whatever" and a white elephant auction to raise money for reunion expenses.
Knight will also have a large banner made with "Burney Family Reunion" and a likeness of the patriarch of the family on it.
Great reunion places
If you're planning a reunion in the Atlanta area, contact DeKalb (GA) Convention & Visitor's Bureau (DCVB), for professional advice and support. Patrick A. Duncan, DCVB president, says services are provided at little or no cost and include cost and amenity comparisons among several hotels and information about tours, attractions, restaurants and special events.
When you contact DCVB, as with many CVBs, be prepared to provide or discuss the following information:
type of reunion (family, school, military)
desired dates (flexibility strengthens rate negotiations)
agenda or schedule of events
special needs (shuttle bus, props for theme parties, activities away from the hotel, disabled members, catering)
Brenda Donald, Stone Mountain, Georgia, 71st Donald Family Reunion organizer, reported that DCVB found hotel rates and planned a welcome dinner, a special reception, an African-American Heritage Tour and a picnic all within her budget.
Stone Mountain Park is a popular DCVB area reunion destination with many choices for activities including an antebellum plantation, several museums, hiking, fishing, golf and biking. There's a laser show nightly during summer. For your custom reunion package, contact DeKalb Convention and Visitors Bureau; 800-999-6055; http://www.dcvb.org.
Daytona Beach, Florida, is a popular destination for many reasons and reunions benefit from all of them. The Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (DBACVB) is eager for the opportunity to convince you to consider them for your reunion location. They will help you promote your reunion to increase attendance. They'll provide brochures, maps and publications listing all the reasons your members want to visit Daytona Beach. They help by contacting area hotels, vendors and services. Unique entertainment available includes flying an aerial message over the beach or hiring a sand sculptor to create an original masterpiece on the beach in front of your hotel. For touring, there is the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory (904-252-6531), Daytona Flea & Farmers Market (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 904-252-1999) or Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation home (904-255-0415). Not surprisingly, sports are great reunion magnets. In Daytona Beach infinite choices abound - golf, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and tennis to start. Contact DBACVB, 126 E. Orange Ave, Daytona Beach FL 32114; 800-854-1234.
Convention & Visitors Bureaus
Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVB) are one of many resources available to your reunion. Think of them as representing your reunion destination. Working with a CVB is like telephoning savvy relatives who can tell you what's best about their city. CVB's are one-stop-shops for information and ideas, well-versed about the destination area's current status in facilities and attractions.
CVBs can help you decide upon your destination and provide lots of help once you've decided. If you still haven't determined on your destination, let a CVB sell themselves to your reunion.
When contacting a CVB, ask for the reunion specialist. Introduce your reunion, including budget limitations. Ask for references from groups that have recently met in the city/area. Ask them to distribute information about your reunion to prospective hotels or work with you to develop a Request for Proposal for hotels. Once you have quotes from hotels or vendors, you can compare costs and amenities, locate tour companies, attractions and restaurants. Ask if they provide a site inspection or familiarization trip. Ask for brochures about area attractions, tours, restaurants, and if they have any promotional items (mugs, t-shirts, tote bags or key chains) available for visitors.
CVBs provide quick, unbiased help to locate the right ingredients in their area for a successful reunion. They are required to provide impartial information so you can be confident that the bureau representative will fairly represent all hotels, tour companies, attractions and restaurants in their city or designated area. Sometimes CVBs are membership organizations who represent just their members, so some locations (non-profit church and YMCA camps, county and state parks) may not be listed among their resources.
CVBs are the answer to a question from Ivan R. Scott, Columbus, Ohio, who asked if it's possible to plan a reunion in Reno, Nevada, without visiting beforehand. Of course, the CVB can provide the help and assistance Mr. Scott needs. But we'd certainly encourage him to ask the CVB to arrange a site visit because while you can organize a reunion without visiting a place, it is much wiser to visit and confirm it is right for your reunion.
Many CVB's include family reunion organizers in familiarization tours (FAM) if they meet criteria established for a designated FAM. Take advantage of an opportunity. Personalized site inspections can also be arranged. Usually, your only cost is getting there. Some CVB's charge a deposit, refunded to those who attend, to ensure you're seriously considering the reunion site.
If you must develop a Request for Proposal to solicit quotes from hotels, include these items.
An introduction to the history and purpose of your reunion.
Reunion dates or approximate dates.
Estimate the number and ages of members attending.
Estimate of number and type of rooms.
Special needs (handicapped access, no smoking space, special diets, recreational requirements).
Contact the CVB if they're dat a distant destination or get acquainted with the CVB in your hometown and introduce your reunion. You'll be pleasantly surprised!
Brenda Donald, Stone Mountain, Georgia, organizer of the 71st Donald Family Reunion, reported that Atlanta's DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) found hotel rates, planned a welcome dinner, a special reception, African-American Heritage Tour and a picnic all within her budget.
The Kissimmee-St. Cloud, Florida, CVB was instrumental in making reunion details manageable for the Haeberlin Family Reunion of 11 children, 33 grand, 50 great grand and two great great grandchildren to celebrate the 70th anniversary wedding and birthdays of Cecil (92) and Grace (88).
The San Mateo County, California, CVB made a hit with the 102nd Ozark Infantry Division reunion by facilitating an impressive article about them in the San Mateo Times.
Richard Duncan, Greenville, North Carolina, had an ingenious idea to keep recipients from throwing out what some people might consider "junk mail." Duncan had a rubber stamp made. The Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau mailed Duncan's invitations and each envelope was stamped "West Greenville Reunion" in bright red ink. They used it on the second mailing and got great response.
The Tucson, Arizona, CVB has hero status to the Army Officer Class 15, "The
King's Men." The CVB provided program and tours that went without a hitch. The frosting on the cake was a performance by the Tucson Hot Flashes, a group of senior women who dance liked the Rockettes!
Historic Delaware County CVB, Media, Pennsylvania, hosted four military units at a recent familiarization tour. For four days organizers of the 1255th ENG(C)BN, 21st AAA(AW)BN(SP)(KO), 17th Airborne Division and the 583rd Signal AW BN enjoyed the hospitality of local restaurants and visited area attractions.
CVB with guarantees!
The Northern Kentucky CVB has established the Unconditional Guarantee Program which provides a public apology and one day's free rental at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center if you are not completely satisfied. There are conditions, of course. Reunions must be larger than average (250 rooms per night for three nights) and agree to attend a pre- and post-convention meetings. For information contact, Northern Kentucky CVB, 50 E RiverCenter Blvd, Ste 40, Covington KY 41011; 800-447-8489; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reunions on the Road
-Big Easy Reunion
Planning a New Orleans reunion, but tiring of Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras? Big Easy for Families lists plenty of fun options in this historic city.
This is the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau's (NOMCVB) update to a popular brochure titled More Than 100 Things for Kids. Well illustrated, it is organized in easy to read sections; i.e.: Cajun & Swamp Country, uniquely New Orleans and the spooky side of New Orleans. Contact NOMCVB 504-566-5003 or 800-672-6124 (outside Louisiana); http://www.neworleanscvb.com.
Celebrating Together in Baltimore is subtitled How to Plan a Reunion in Baltimore City. Request your copy from Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, 100 Light Street, 12th Floor, Baltimore MD 21202-3106; 800-343-3468, x 7065; http://www.baltimore.org.
New ways to consider sites and locations include Boston's Hynes Convention Center's CD-ROM with 360-degree multidimensional views of the center and walking tours of the city (contact Kristen Cote, 617-266-5500) or an Oakland, California, VHS destination video tape (contact Harry Hamilton, 800-262-5526).
The LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau offers a new Northern Indiana Harbor Country Visitors Guide. If your reunion planning takes you to this area, you can find attractions, shopping, recreation, parks, maps, lodging and entertainment. This region is very attractive for reunions because of its location between large population centers east and west of it. Write LPCCVB, 1503 S Meer Rd, Michigan City IN 46360 or call 800-933-6845.