Family Reunion 

Thoughts from planners of previous reunions


Here are a few random thoughts from the organizers of previous reunions. It's good to have a quick recap between the organizers within 24hours of the end of the event.

  • Communication

    • It seems that not everyone got all the emails from us. We sent out three mailings via US Mail and email. Only one announcement went our on email only, that was five days before the event. It seems that some family members changed their email address and didn’t hear about the silent auction.
    • When we changed the schedule verbally people didn’t remember. We should have had some common place in the hotel lobby with the current, updated schedule posted for everyone to read.
    • We almost didn’t have enough transportation to go around. If the next reunion is in an out of the way place and the day’s activities will be a drive away, we should mention it. Some family members will probably opt to get rental cars if they know there’s a need.
    • Having a registration table in the lobby on the first day was key for getting people into the swing of things. However, the registration guy had to miss most of the dinner because of the time overlap (thanks to Angela for sitting down there). It would have been nice to have the registration period end one hour into the supper.
    • Left over registration packages were going to be left at the desk for late arrivals, but some of the late arrivals were not staying at the hotel.
    • Registration packages were well set up. We had three extra packages set up for drop ins.
    • We should have suggested that people put invitations in their next Christmas cards inviting others to attend the next one. Might be a good idea for 2004.
    • How could we get communication to the new branches of the family, like those in Nova Scotia?
    • Green Family Stamp was used on the outside of envelopes to differentiate our letters from junk mail.
    • We sent out one mailing to everyone on the mailing list (250), then a registration package to everyone who responded yes or maybe (70). We sent a final mailing to those who registered (40).
    • People asked for information about nearby RV and camping facilities. 
  • Activities

    • Candlelight memorial service was very nice.
    • We didn’t have good directions from the hotel to the Grandpa Woo cruise ship. We should have done a drive by the day before and used to hotel copy machine to hand out maps.
    • We got surprised by the dinner. The organizers should request a complete menu from the caterer. In this case we didn’t realize that dessert was not included. 
    • It would also have been nice to have a no-host bar service available without having to walk upstairs.
    • The visit by John Thomas was enjoyed by all.
    • Since there were not a lot of activities that were all over off site, the families had more chance to meet and talk. In previous reunions the group got split up a lot during the day.
    • I think having the third day gave more time for people to interact. It was interesting to have the reunion set up so that the first day was a bit optional. This allowed people to arrive early and get a feel for the place, but for those who could only attend two days, they could come for the Friday/Saturday events. I also think that three days gave close family members enough time to visit among themselves and still feel that they had time to visit with the extended family.
    • We had our own coffee, soft drinks, and snacks in the hospitality suite for people to eat while hanging around. Maybe we should have had some beer and a box of wine.
    • The drop by supper the first night was a very good way to get people together right at the start. It set the right tone for the weekend.
    • The silent auction went very well. We could have moved the auction along quicker. It needs someone to watch and run it. We had a few too many items though. We might have lumped some of the smaller commercial items into larger groups to auction off. It is also good to set minimum bids on the commercial items. I know that some items went for much less than the donator paid for them; we would have been better off to have the cash instead of the item – that isn’t really the way it should work.
    • Picture taking went well because we had someone who took responsibility for seating people and arranging them.
    • Having games around was a nice touch. We had a few fun card games.

  • Location

    • It was great to have a meeting room that was cozy and homey (unit 57) instead of having to meet in a standard hotel banquet room all the time. If necessary, we should pay for the organizers, or someone else, to have a very large suite that can act as the hospitality suite. The organizers of 2004 should use registration monies to upgrade themselves to a suite or two adjoining suites that can be used has a hospitality suite for gatherings. If the organizers would rather not stay in these suites, they may not want to have to be hosts all weekend, they should use registration monies to upgrade some other family members that are willing to live in the hospitality suite. And this suite(s) should be in the same building as the bulk of the rooms. In Superior Shores the meeting suite (#57) was too far out for all our family members to walk to.
    • The hospitality unit #57 had a filthy floor, dirty hot tub, big grease spot on the deck, campfire wasn’t lit, front desk was a total screw up – messages missed, not passed on, etc.
    • I don’t think anyone made use of the pools or spas.
    • Good signage at the resort. We brought several pre-printed "ENGELHORN" forms and big cardboard pieces to make up signs on the day we set up the event. Kim used some Laser Printer sticky back paper to print up the pieces. This is a whole sheet of paper with peel off stickum’ on the back. Once we got to the reunion Kim cut the arrows and words up, peeled off the back, and stuck them on the cardboard in configurations that fit our need. This was a neat trick.

  • Accomodations

    • The hotel desk had a lot of confusion over all the guests having the same last name (you think they’d be used to this). It is important to stress to family members that they be very careful when changing their reservations.
    • The hotel held our block of rooms until two weeks before the event, yet some family members couldn’t come because they tried to make reservations within two weeks of the event. Go figure.

  • Miscellaneous

    • Was cost a factor in people deciding to not come?
    • The donation jar for the drop by dinner was seeded with a five, a one, and a quarter so that people knew they could donate any amount. The donation jar raised $62 that night.
    • We didn’t ask for the survey’s back. It might have been nice to have a self addressed, stamped envelope for people to use in sending back the feedback form.
    • It would have been nice to have a give away, like a hat or scarf, in one color so that we could easily find family members in a crowd.
    • We split the organizing responsibilities into thirds: Communication and Registration; Site Selection and liaison; Agenda and Activities. We exchanged emails from time to time, but we never even talked on the phone once.






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