My sister-in-law was helping her husband’s family plan their reunion. Unfortunately, on their reunion weekend there was a NASCAR race nearby. They had trouble getting a bus to take them sightseeing and all of the restaurants were jammed with NASCAR fans all weekend long. Is there any way they could have avoided this?
Yes! It sounds to me like they didn’t call the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) before they booked their reunion. The CVB would have let them know the NASCAR race was going on that weekend and suggested other dates when they city wasn’t as crowded. I’ve said this many times before, but a group’s first call should always be to the CVB. Before you pick dates, send out “Save the Date” postcards, contact a hotel, or do anything else, contact the CVB!
Many people only think to call the CVB for maps, guidebooks, and discount coupons for the destination they’ll be visiting. And yes, CVBs do provide all of those things and in many cases, for free! But that’s only one valuable service you can call on them for … these are four others that could be even more valuable for your group.
- The CVB can alert you to the best and “least-best” times of the year to visit, as well as when to get the best deals. They’ll know when larger “citywide” events are going on (NASCAR races, sporting tournaments, festivals, major conventions, etc.) that you may wish to avoid. Sometimes, just by shifting your reunion dates forward or back by a week, you may be able to save tens, if not hundreds, of dollars a night on your hotel rooms. Restaurants and other attractions will likewise be less-crowded and more enjoyable,
- The CVB will help you find the best-suited hotel for your group, your budget, and your reunion. Looking for a hotel that has a swimming pool and is close to shopping, restaurants, and a water park? They’ll know which hotels will fill the bill, and what rates the hotel is likely to offer you.
- The CVB will suggest fun activities, sights to see, and attractions you might not have even been aware of. For example, here in Fairfax County, we have a specially constructed playground that was designed for children with mobility issues. It’s called Clemyjontri Park, and it allows children who use wheelchairs, walkers, or braces to enjoy a playground experience. You won’t find it in most visitor guides, but if a child in your family has special needs, we’ll recommend you spend some time there.
- And finally, a CVB can help you find local service providers of all shapes and stripes. Want to rent some costumes for your family’s talent show? We know where the costume rental shop is located. Need a wreath to take to Arlington National Cemetery to place on the grave of a loved one? We know which florists make them. Want to rent a video monitor to show old home movies of the family? We know who the local providers are. Why would you spend hours searching the Internet when you can just ask us?
Again, you can make your reunion extra special (as well as avoid all sorts of potential problems) just by making a single phone call to the convention and visitors bureau.
Hope you and your family have a wonderful reunion!
About the Hospitality Answerman
Dean Miller, national sales director for Visit Fairfax (fxva.com), the convention and visitors bureau in Fairfax County, Virginia, is a great friend of reunions. Contact him (703-790-0643; firstname.lastname@example.org) when you are planning a reunion in the Washington, DC, area. Fairfax County is nearby, affordable, and conveniently located to all the area has to offer.