Reunions Mean Big Bucks for the Travel Industry
Travel for reunions is big business and the market is getting bigger as families, communities, organizations and affinity groups strive to stay in touch in an increasingly complex, post 9/11 world.
The U.S. Travel Association estimates that in the last three years, 82 million adults have hit the road to see Uncle Joe; play horseshoes with cousin Alice; swap stories with long lost relatives; and, be part of affinity groups reaching out to each other at annual outings. The gatherings have generated millions in revenue for the struggling travel industry and equally strong feelings among the participants.
But when Facebook became the monster place to meet and swap stories, the travel reunion business thought they were out of business. Turns out the opposite was true, says Edith Wagner, Editor-in-Chief of the Milwaukee-based Reunions Magazine.
“Facebook enhances reunions because people learn about each other ahead of time and then build great conversations around that information when they meet,” Wagner said.
So no matter how weird we think our families are, they’re still our families, and we’re apparently willing to travel long distances to get together with them.
But reunions can go pretty deep.
“Many groups,” Wagner points out, “memorialize lost members with candle light services, or they’ll create souvenir booklets and play games like ‘autograph bingo’ as a way for out-of-touch members or the younger generation to get to know each other. It’s about creating memories."
Her advice for anyone planning a big reunion?
- Chose a cruise because they have something for everyone. Cruises and all-inclusive resorts reduce the stress involved in planning meals and activities, creating a worry-free time to get to know each other.
- Get creative. Reunion activities can include river rafting, tours of cemeteries in Ireland, East African safaris, Galapagos Islands tours, stays at dude ranches, visiting bike week in Daytona Beach, Fla., or European trips to retrace family heritage.
- Use a a travel agent, someone with reunion-planning experience who can handle all the logistics skillfully.
- And plan a family reunion around a milestone event like an anniversary or wedding.
But beware, reunions can rekindle old animosities and stir up unresolved feelings.
Dr. Larry Basirico’s funny and wise book, The Family Reunion Survival Guide: How to Avoid Problems With Your Family Without Avoiding Your Family is must-read for anyone planning a reunion, or attending one.
It goes a long way toward insuring family feuds stay buried.
Been to a reunion lately? How was it?