a reservation first so that the center can offer you extra savings that are generally reserved for groups,” says Michele Rothstein, senior vice president of marketing for Chelsea Premium Outlets. “These benefits range from free coupon books for each person to meal vouchers for the organizers. To make an online group reservation, visit www.premiumoutlets.com/tours.” Other national outlet chains are Prime Outlets (www.primeoutlets.com) and Tanger Outlets (www.tangeroutlet.com).
Look for the best accommodations
Sonya C. Waites is host of the Hill-Hough Family Reunion in Indianapolis and is curious about how to negotiate hotel rates and amenities in advance. She would also like to “implement an activity to foster communication among family members who do not know each other.”
Selecting the hotel is probably the biggest and most expensive aspect of the entire family reunion. In addition to cost, reunion planners should consider proximity to shopping, restaurants, and attractions, plus the amenities within the actual venue. (For Waites, that means a space large enough for the family to have a meet and greet or informal party.)
Increasingly, families are selecting four- and five-star hotels and getting great prices. Some places even allow the coordinator to stay for free. Check out Websites such as www.familyreunionhotels.com.
“Family reunion coordinators can find out about beautiful hotels and resorts that have availability and offer special group incentives. The Web is easy to use and faster than a phone call,” says Donovan M. Shia, president of FamilyReunionHotels.com. “Our Website features family reunion hotels from more than 40 major U.S. cities. You will find direct links to key contacts and Websites to find everything you need to plan your reunion.”
Cruises are also a great option since they are all-inclusive.
Raise some moneyto offset costs
Reunions typically cost $100 per person for a small gathering of 50 family members. If members are willing to roll up their sleeves and work at fundraising, they can lessen the financial burden of attending.
Entertainment Fundraising offers multiple options: the Entertainment Book of discount coupons, Sally Foster (specialty gift and gourmet foods), or Premium Collection Gourmet Cookie Dough (https:// fundraising.entertainment.com). ABC Fundraising (www.abcfundraising. com) has Spinners and Scratch & Help, where donors receive coupons in return for their contribution, which is determined by spinning an arrow or scratching off a circle. Krispy Kreme Doughnut fundraising is a longtime favorite (www.krispykreme. com/fund.html) in which fundraisers sell donuts, gift certificates, or discount cards. The World’s Finest Chocolates are also a great option (www.worldsfinestchocolate.com/aspx /iFundraising.aspx).
Even if you do not have the time for fundraisers, make an expense assessment for each family or each family member. “To be fair to everyone, divide the assessments equally. Since reunions must be affordable for everyone, every family must come up with its own solution,” says Wagner.
Plan food and fun activities for everyone
Natalie Reese is the co-chair of the 2008 Dukes-Murphy-Burgess Family Reunion in Savannah, Georgia. It is the 30th anniversary and Reese wants to add interest through activities that spark excitement. “We usually have the traditional banquet, cookout, and Sunday worship,” she says. “How do