Up Front

Reunion Organizers

Local seminars can help planners pull it all together

Ah, the family reunion — multiple generations, interests and personalities coming together in one place for food and fun. But whether you’re a reunion-planning pro or novice, putting together a great gathering that attracts all the far-flung relations can be a daunting undertaking.

Fear not. Discover Kalamazoo offers free family-reunion-planning seminars to help those planning these family fun fests by connecting potential planners with local businesses, organizations and venues.

Two reunion-planning seminars are scheduled for the coming months — one on Saturday, May 17, the other on Saturday, July 19. Both workshops run from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Discover Kalamazoo office, 141 E. Michigan Ave., Suite 100. During the seminars, planners learn how to put together a reunion using the resources available in the Kalamazoo area. Local information about travel and hosting services is assembled by Discover Kalamazoo and made available to attendees. The hope is to make Kalamazoo a destination choice for family reunions by eliminating obstacles.

“For folks who are trying to run a family reunion, this is a great way to come in and see all our community has to offer and what services Discover Kalamazoo can provide for them during the planning process,” explains Renee Newman, director of marketing and communications for Discover Kalamazoo, a destination marketing organization for Kalamazoo County. “We’re hoping that when people walk away from these seminars they’ve learned a little bit more about how to plan a family reunion and how our team can help them every step of the way.”

Finding caterers, booking entertainment, taking advantage of community amenities, getting affordable rates for hotels and banquet facilities — these are just some of the ways Discover Kalamazoo helps reunion planners during these seminars. Discover Kalamazoo can even connect planners with freebies and souvenirs to give attendees as a means of attracting a better turnout.

According to recent family-reunion market research, almost 70 percent of reunions are hosted in the summer, and outdoor facilities and activities are two of the most alluring factors when considering a host city. Keeping these factors in mind, Discover Kalamazoo works as a hub, bringing together information about all the outdoor and indoor hosting spaces and community activities in the area. Helping to plan events fits right in with what Discover Kalamazoo already does.

Newman says the sessions, which have been offered since 2011, have successfully motivated prospective planners to book facilities and host their reunions in Kalamazoo, and sometimes people who’ve already hosted reunions attend to pick up more tips and tricks.

Newman emphasizes that the seminar is meant for anyone planning a family reunion. “This is a free planning seminar, and any of the services from Discover Kalamazoo are free as well,” she says, “so there’s no charge to work with Discover Kalamazoo and take advantage of what we can bring to the table
in helping people plan their events.”

Space for the seminars is limited. To reserve a space, contact Lisa Kukulski, Discover Kalamazoo’s destination service manager, at (269) 488-0056 or lkukulski@discoverkalamazoo.com.

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