Disaster Recovery

In this report, Sunny McGinnis, past president of the National Association of Reunion Managers, describes a disaster that should give some class reunion chairpersons reason to consider hiring professionals.

by Sunny McGinnis

Two night reunion events are customary in Florida because most reunions are held at beach locations and alumni like to make a weekend of it. Several years ago, we planned a 10-year reunion in St. Petersburg. Evidently, after a Friday cocktail party, someone looked at another’s wife wrong and a brawl broke out in one of the guest rooms in the wee hours. Police were called. By the time the situation was under control, the guest room was destroyed, two men were arrested and the hotel decided to cancel their Saturday banquet (the main event).

I received THE call early Saturday morning. I urged the hotel to reconsider their cancellation and allow the Saturday event to take place. I offered to place a uniformed officer on site, personally attend the event or anything they wanted. The answer was an adamant no! The family-owned property wanted no part of any function whose behavior was so destructive, and rightfully so.

I had nine hours to solve this problem. By 3:00 PM, the banquet was relocated to another property. We were able to notify every guest and vendor of the new location, provide enough food (although not what they originally ordered) and we saved the reunion! The committee and the guests were very appreciative and well-behaved.

We accomplished this recovery because of our good rapport with area facilities, our organization skills and a great staff who went beyond the call of duty and sacrificed their Saturday.

About the author
Sunny McGinnis is president of Reunion Celebrations; Tampa, FL; 813-874-9967.