At AFR we speak with A LOT of military reunion groups, both large and small. No matter the size of the group or association, we’ve found over the years that they all operate and plan reunions in about the same way.
One of two situations arise:
Your group is lucky enough to have 1 individual (or a couple) that plans your reunions every year, with the help/input of a local.
Your group is dependent on someone or a committee volunteering to host your reunion in their home city, and they are then left to figure out all the details on their own.
Either way, the destinations you visit start to become limited based on who you have locally and willing to volunteer from your group. If someone new is planning your reunion every year, then what worked and what did not doesn’t always get passed on to the next planner. If the same person is planning every year, then it’s easier to develop a system, but they are still on their own with little expertise in a new city every year. As you have found out through planning on your own, how accommodating hotels are to your needs can be drastically different from city to city – especially regarding BYO alcohol privileges in function space for a hospitality room.
When groups are considering our services, we always hear the same thing: “We have a local there in X city who knows the area and hotels really well – they can handle it.” While local knowledge is indeed helpful, what’s more important is BUYING POWER with the hotels and specific knowledge about what makes a hotel “reunion-friendly.” Your local member may know the best hotels in the area, but they always quickly learn that many do not accommodate the things you need to have. A “reunion-friendly” hotel is one that allows you to bring your own alcohol into their function space for hospitality, provides reasonable rates, is flexible with hotel policies, waives meeting room rental, allows discounted catering menus, and accepts a myriad of other concessions. In any city nationwide, you will not find more than a few hotels that are truly “reunion-friendly.”
AFR gets discounts and special concessions from our hotel partners simply because of BUYING POWER. You may know the right things to ask for in hotel negotiations, but just asking isn’t enough. You must ask yourself, why would the hotel grant us anything special? For AFR it is because we send a high volume of business to our hotel partners, they know that year after year through good times and bad AFR will bring them business.
Now you may be thinking, “I like working on our reunion every year, and don’t want to give it up!” We agree! Our favorite part about working with military reunion groups is the passion you have for your groups and members; it is unmatched by any other segment. AFR does not want to steal your thunder, replace your committees, or influence your reunion in any way other than improving your members’ experience.
So, imagine a new way of sourcing your host hotel for a moment: Your members vote on one or a few cities to host the next reunion. Now, you call AFR to speak about your program/agenda, city/cities you want to go to, your preferred dates, and any special considerations you may have. You go back to your daily life feeling no stress at all about finding the right hotel for your members. Anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks later you have 1-3 proposals from THE BEST hotels to host a military reunion at, with a long list of concessions that benefit your members and association. AFR reviews the proposals before they are sent to you to ensure all needs are met and if any preliminary negotiations need to happen, we handle those. Once you and your team have reviewed all proposals and gotten all questions answered, you select the host hotel and AFR issues our very own Military Reunion Hotel Contract and negotiates the best agreement possible on your behalf. We simply leverage our long-term relationships and Buying Power while you and your team sit back and make the important final decisions, without worrying about the fine details and negotiations.
What we bring to the table is over 30 years’ experience planning thousands of military reunions in over 150 cities nationwide, and a vast network of long-term industry partners that love and appreciate military business. The best part about all of this is there is no cost to your association for this service. Why would you not want to take advantage of that?
If you are tired of dealing with endless hotels every year or just want to ensure your group is getting the best deal possible, reach out to AFR to learn more about our site selection and hotel contracting process, as well as our optional Reunion Registration Services.
Fill out our Contact Form or call/email Charley Dey directly at 757-625-6401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.