As my last official act for the now-cancelled 2020/21 reunion, I am seeking volunteers to lead the next reunion, which will hopefully be held in 2022. It may seem very early to start planning for an event 24 months or more away, but once the Covid-19 virus holds less sway on our lives, demand for events like ours will increase substantially.
I started preparing for the 2020 reunion right after the 2018 reunion in Austin by selecting the best dates and researching hotels in Colorado, quickly settling on the Cheyenne Mountain resort. Early autumn was an easy decision because of normally good weather and beautiful fall colors, I also was able to get two local couples - Doug and Elizabeth, and John and Violeta Powell for tour and registration management respectively. The next important early role was getting a good event management platform. Connie Sutton, with recent experience with the 2015 reunion in Saudi, recommended Cvent and volunteered to lead this critical position, although she had to resign soon thereafter for health reasons. None of our core team are interested in leading the event next time.
With this small team, we were able to negotiate the hotel contract, book all of the tours, and make a plan for the entire event. We launched the registration website 11 months before the event, and enrolled over 300 participants - more than enough to hold the event - by early March 2020. More people joined the team to manage music, photography, and other smaller roles. Then the Covid-19 virus took over, and the rest is a sad history.
None of us had experience with large event planning, but I believe we had a good plan in place for the event, using past hosts as needed, and it would have been a very successful event.
I urge you to consider leading the next reunion. It does take a commitment to success and a decent plan to carry it out. It also takes a lot of time, especially for the team leader and the website manager, but no special skills were needed.
I am willing to discuss this opportunity with anyone that is seriously interested. You can hold the reunion wherever you want, and you can be the host remotely as long as you have 2 or 3 local people on the team. The Cvent software was easy to learn, and they provided excellent customer service. I will provide the Cvent website infrastructure, complete with all the events and registration components in place. I will also provide coaching on the planning and financial management of the event.
As we closed out the 2020 reunion, I received significant positive feedback on the location and design of the event. Many people asked that we hold the 2022 reunion at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, and I am confident that the resort would like to host it as well. They were very easy to work with and bent over backward to help as we postponed, then cancelled the event.
There are many other locations around the country that would be great candidates for our next reunion. Maybe that will be your town.
~John Palmer, Hafla 2021 Organizer