by Dean Miller
Q? Our 25th year high school reunion is next summer, and last month our reunion committee sent out “Save the Date” postcards to everyone for whom we have an address. Already people are contacting us with reasons why they can’t come … more than a year ahead of time! How can this be? They can’t all have dental appointments scheduled this far ahead! What can we do to get them to reconsider?
A! Many times, people will offer reasons why they can’t come, when what they’re really saying is, “I don’t want to come!” While there will always be unavoidable conflicts and financial issues which prevent folks from attending, in many cases, they need to be reassured that: 1) they’ll have a good time, 2) they’ll be welcome, and 3) the time and expense will be worth it. You and the other committee members need to stay in touch with these folks. One of the many reunion groups with whom we’ve had the pleasure of working here in Fairfax County is the Madrid/Torrejón High School Association. Their members attended an ASA (American School Abroad) for US dependents located outside of Madrid, Spain. On their website, they acknowledge – and refute – what they refer to as the ten most common excuses they hear for not attending reunions. The group has graciously allowed us to reprint their list here, for use by other reunion committees. It’s one of the best – and funniest! – rebuttals to most every “I Can’t Come” excuse you’re likely to encounter. Feel free to adapt this list for your group’s unique circumstances.
Top 10 crummy “reasons” for not attending our reunion
10. “It’s too far to go.” Some people come to our reunions from Europe and Asia. If they can make it, so can you.
9. “It costs too much.” The Association makes no money from registration fees, which are only enough to cover most (but not
quite all) of our expenses. You may be able to save on your hotel cost by sharing a room with a classmate or a friend from another class. More to the point: People who’ve come to past reunions agree it’s worth it – many say they’ll come back, no matter what it costs!
8. “I’m not sure my schedule / commitments / job / family / [you-name-it] will allow me to come.” Unless you’re absolutely positive there’s no way you will be able to come, register. Once you make the commitment to come, it’s amazing how the rest of your life can be arranged to make it possible.
7. “I can’t be there for the whole thing.” Why not? (See reason #8.) If this is really a problem, don’t make that an excuse not to come at all. The events covered by the registration fee run from Thursday evening through Sunday morning. If you really can’t be there the entire time, partial registrations are available. BEWARE: Don’t use the availability of partial registrations as an excuse not to be there longer. Everyone who has been there for only part of a reunion has wished they were there for the whole thing. Of course, a partial registration is better than nothing – but only if nothing really is the only other option you have.
6. “There’s nothing to see or do in that city.” That’s not true – but even if it were, it wouldn’t matter. The main attraction of our reunions is the people – we could have a great reunion in the middle of nowhere! Just as life is what you make it – so is a party!
5. “I don’t want to come without my spouse / significant other, and I don’t think they’ll have any fun.” If our past experience is any guide, this is a non-issue. Most spouses and significant others quickly become “honorary madrileños y madrilènes” and have a great time. Some even say they’d rather come back to another of our reunions instead of going to their own.
4. “ I know what high school reunions are like – it’s just a bunch of boring people standing around bragging about their jobs, their marriages, their kids, etc., etc.” Yes, that’s the stereotype of what many high school reunions are like. But ours aren’t like that at all. There’s something about having gone to high school overseas that makes our reunions different. It doesn’t take long to realize the special bond we have. It’s like getting in touch with your roots – or coming back home. There’s nothing else like it.
3. “ I won’t know anyone there. Or they won’t remember me. Or they will remember me for the wrong reasons.”
It doesn’t matter. We’ll treat you like one of the family anyway. Many newcomers and old timers who have been to several reunions have made more “NEW” friends with classmates from other years. It’s
really about the common experience we shared living overseas.
2. “The people I know won’t be attending.”
Come anyway – you’ll add to your list of people you’ll want to see next time! And if there are some people you really want to make sure are there, it’s not too late (if you get started now) to track them down (if we haven’t already found them), then call and tell them you want them to be there.
1. “ I’ve gained weight, I’m not successful enough, I’m divorced, etc., etc., and I’m concerned about what people will think of me.”
No matter how real or how strong these feelings may be before you arrive, you’ll soon find out that none of this stuff really matters. The plain truth is: We want to see you! On top of all the options to fill your day before or after the reunion, you’ll highlight it all with the days of the reunion itself, something you will be talking about for months after the event is over. Begin making your plans now – we want to see you there to join in the fun, frolic, and festivities of our next reunion!
Reprinted with permission from Madrid/Torrejón High School Associates.
About the Hospitality Answerman
Dean Miller is national sales director for Visit Fairfax. He can be reached at 703-752-9509 or firstname.lastname@example.org.