How to Plan a Military Reunion?
With few exceptions, U.S. military reunions are attended by veterans from World War II, The Cold War, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Gulf War. Most served 2 to four years, then left to enter civilian life and start families. Others made the military their career and most of these were enlisted.
Military reunion groups like to get together to reconnect, reminisce, see the sights and have fun. You're successful if your event allows them to do that!
There are as many as 12,000 military reunion groups, most with 500 to 1,000 names on their mailing list. Most are run by one person, usually as a labor of love. They appreciate all the help they can get.
The groups may include a board of directors or a reunion committee. Dues are paid. A bank account is maintained. Some have a newsletter or website – sometimes both. Many DO NOT have active workers other than the leader and perhaps their spouse.
Very often, they organize reunions every year for a couple dozen attendees to thousands! Most stay in a hotel about three to four nights and many often come early or extend their stay for personal sight-seeing.
Getting Started Planning the Reunion
As mentioned, volunteer military reunion planners don't often get a lot of help, but there are a couple of people you need on your team. Some or all of these could be you, but look for people with special skills to help. A handful of people on the committee keeps it manageable.
Most, if not all, should be people from the military or veterans, especially those who have attended other armed forces reunions. Bonus points if they've ever planned a military reunion!
Next, get your list together. Who will attend? Is it just vets or will spouses and children be welcome?
Will your reunion have a theme? How will that impact decorations, entertainment and a banquet program?
Who would be well received as a program host or presenter?
Speaking of the list, is it complete? Do you need to reach out to others from your unit?
You'll need to have a good idea how many people will attend. It's easier if the event is held regularly. What has the attendance trend been?
Where to Schedule Your Military Reunion?
There are great places to hold military reunions all over the country and for those who schedule them annually, it's good to move around and experience different things. We can't list all the hotspots here, but the following destinations have become very popular:
- Branson, MO
- DuPage County, IL
- Fairfax County, VA (Washington D.C.)
- Myrtle Beach, SC
- Norfolk, VA
- Rapid City, SD
Contact us for more destination ideas, including the possibility of holding your reunion on a cruise ship! We recommend that you visit each of the destinations you're considering if you haven't been there.
Selecting a Hotel
It's best to have everyone in the same hotel, so you should select one with the proper capacity. Full service hotels with banquet facilities, meeting rooms or other features should be considered carefully. Will you need a sound system? Will you need one or more restaurants on-site or will everyone dine in a banquet hall?
Do you require walk-in showers or other considerations for people with disabilities?
Many military reunion planners say that having a hospitality room is important. You should make sure that you and the hotel are in agreement on whether you are permitted to bring in food and alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. Strive to get the room included at no additional cost.
Reunion groups are more sensitive to price, so you'll want to try and negotiate a good rate, including comped items, like breakfast. Part of your negotiation will be room rates, food and beverage and transportation costs.
You will be judged by the hotel you and your committee select and for what price!
Contracts can be very complicated, so make absolutely sure you understand and agree with the terms and what options, if any, are available to you as mistakes could be very costly to your organization/association. See if someone in your organization is an attorney or consult one if you do not understand something.
There are other considerations from pre-planning to program development to transportation to logistics to facilities and even taxes that are better discovered on a case-by-case basis. And this is even more important if you're considering a military reunion on a cruise ship! We are experts in these topics. Call Brian for more insights at (480) 332-7294 or John Baker at (620) 399-3999.
Free Military Reunion Planning Checklist
We offer a free basic checklist for military reunion planners, simply by filling in your name and email address on the form to the right. It covers most of the common keys to planning a successful reunion and we'll follow up with occasional news and information that we think will be useful to those who are planning military reunions.
Be assured that we will not spam you and you may opt out at any time.
Professional Military Reunion Planning Done For You Free!
We've been planning and managing successful military reunions for years. We speak all over the country on the best ways to plan a military reunion. Here are some advantages you get from using the experience and expertise of a professional military reunion planner, like Holiday Cruises and Tours:
- On-Site Management and Organization During Your Event (if applicable)
- Program and Banquet Planning / Negotiate the best inclusive rate
- Registration and Mailings
- Negotiate a Complimentary Room for the Group's Leader and additional room comps for the group
- Arrange for Bands, DJ or Other Entertainment
- Negotiate a Complimentary Welcome Reception
- Complimentary Room Upgrades for VIP's with amenity packages
- Hot breakfast included in room rate
- No Attrition or other favorable arrangement
- Negotiate best F&B (Food & Beverage) minimums
We've attended dozens of fams, lead educational workshops and continuously do site inspections all over the country.
We know military reunions!
Armed Forces: Air Force – Army – Marines – Navy – Coast Guard
With our extensive group and reunion planning experience, Holiday Cruises and Tours offers "guidance without guesswork."
The Holiday Cruises and Tours Advantage
- Our planning process has been revised and improved over the years, which makes the whole process more efficient and successful.
- We can help easily narrow down your destination options based on years of experience, then accompany you, or your reunion hosts, onsite inspections, if needed, before you make your final choice.
- We help negotiate the best rates for overnight accommodations and meals.
- We take care of any transportation logistics planning.
- You get to spend more time with your members/friends and less time sweating the details!
You tell us what you want, and we'll take care of everything down to the smallest detail so you can enjoy a stress-free get-together with your members/friends. Best of all, you get more for your money because at Holiday Cruises and Tours we want to acknowledge everything that the military has done for us and, as a way of showing our gratitude, we won't charge your association a cent for our services!
If you're interested in training the members of your reunion committee or a workshop at a Fam or similar event, call Brian or John:
"First of all...the cruise reunion was Fabulous!! We all enjoyed it so much! It'll be a hard one to follow. Sofia, the cruise group service rep was a real sweetheart and so helpful. She made certain we were taken care of. Our seaside tribute to our fallen comrades was beautiful and our meetings were held in a beautiful lounge the ship provided for us. We were very happy with everything. Thank you so much for your work and help to make this a very memorable experience."
"It was incredible spending time with some of our Arizona based WWII veterans returning on an Honor Flight from Washington, DC where they visited the WWII memorials and were treated with the respect and dignity they so rightly earned. I was honored to be there to pick up my neighbor Sam Molson. Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s WWII veterans for all their sacrifices. They transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to reflect and be honored at their memorials. Holiday Cruises and Tours very own Rick Hardina helps organize the AZ chapter of this wonderful non-profit."
"Hi Brian: I wanted to send you a personal note but in the spring Mrs. Fitz got on a big kick of getting our computer room back in order and everything from past Reunions got shredded, which included your business address, so rather than wait for a reply from you, I've decided to e-mail you. Sorry about that. I wanted to thank you for "Managing" another wonderful and successful Ranger Reunion. I thought everything was outstanding, and run like the professional you are. We all owe you another debt of gratitude. I also want to thank you for the courtesy shown to me; the room upgrade; cheese, wine and cracker welcome; and the use of the Executive Lounge. I didn't rate it, but appreciated it and thank you. I had the pleasure of talking briefly with your wife in the Hotel Lobby Sunday morning while we awaited the Limo to the Airport. Such a charming Lady - you're a lucky man. Looking forward to seeing you again in Jacksonville next October. Thanks again Brian."