Reunions by Class Act

Reunions by Class Act

P.O. Box 14016

Houston, TX 77221



Chalk Talk (Q&A)

Here are some questions asked of Class Act over the years by reunion-committee members, reunion-goers, competitors, the curious, and even ourselves:

Q No. 1: If we decide to enlist your services, how much does it cost? How does it work? What do you need from us?

It doesn't cost the committee anything, and the arrangement is simple: People (attendees) pay us for their admission, and out of that we pay all the expenses associated with the event. (Our expenses are detailed on the What We Do page.) What's left is the compensation for our time and effort.

The first step is for us to send a proposal to the committee chair. If accepted, we then send a contract. One it's signed by both parties, work will commence on the event, usually with the selection of the date and venue. Note: For groups we've with worked with before, the proposal and contract combined into one.

Also, we might ask for some material to help us locate classmates. The most important item is a copy of the class list, with full names. Those can usually be found on the commencement program given out at the graduation ceremony. Other items, such as directories or databases produced for previous reunions, are helpful also.

Q No. 2: Our committee is thinking about doing our reunion on our own. We'll use websites such as Facebook to reach class members and to publicize the reunion. We might even set up a class website. So we don't need a company, do we?

A: Maybe not - if you have as many as 100 hours of time, are OK doing often tedious work, and can assume a financial commitment that often exceeds $5,000. But be careful: When you contact possible locations, many will want at least a $500 deposit, sometimes $1,000. In addition, they might put you on a "payment schedule" leading up to the reunion. That can create a cash crunch for the committee because most people attending a reunion don't pay until the last two or three weeks beforehand.

Also, if you count on Facebook as your only means of locating classmates, you're likely to be disappointed. By and large, most people in a class aren't members of a FB page for the class. or other high school-related websites. And of those who are listed, it's not because they're particularly interested in a reunion: They're simply looking to find, or be found by, some former classmates.

In fact, as we discuss on the Facebook Factor page, for all of its positive benefits, FB is having a negative effect on reunion attendance. But we're managing to combat that by reaching most of the class, and by keeping the admission price around $50, or less

Q No. 3:  But we have people on our committee who have planned parties and events like banquets, benefits and galas. Doesn't that matter?

A: A reunion is a different animal: Party planning is only a part of what's involved. A much larger percentage is communication, and good detective work. Sounds boring, but it's true. Committees working on their own usually focus a lot more on party planning than spreading the word. When that happens, the stress levels are high and they set themselves up to get in a financial bind. We've heard many stories of committees "passing the hat" at the reunion in order to pay the expenses.

NTW: Quite a few committees that hire us for their reunion had handled one or more of their previous reunions on their own. If you ask them afterward which they preferred, going solo or using Class Act, they're likely to point in our direction. Freed from the time and financial burdens discussed above, they were able to enjoy the event like the other attendees. Ever see Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion? Staffing the check-in table isn't the most exciting place to be on reunion night.

Why go through all of this when it costs nothing, other than the price to attend, to enlist the services of Class Act? We'll give you the reunion you want, without the hassles you don't want.

Q No. 4: Is the admission cost really important as to whether a person will attend a reunion? Our committee is thinking that people in our class would pay $70 or $80. Are we right?

A: An unequivocal "yes" to the first question - cost is very important. But a respectful "no" to the second question - most people in a class won't pay $70 or $80. Members of the committee obviously are excited and enthusiastic about the reunion (or else they wouldn't be on the committee). So they're likely to pay that kind of price. But most people in the class won't.

Rule No. 1 in reunion planning: Higher price = lower turnout.  More than any other factor, price determines whether a person will attend. And that's even truer now, with the popularity of websites like Facebook. For some people, a reunion is as exciting as a root canal. They're almost looking for reasons not to attend; a high price all but guarantees they won't. It's not that they can't afford the price; they just don't think this type of event should cost that much.

Q No. 5: I see that Class Act does most of its reunions on Friday night, instead of Saturday. Why?  Are there any advantages to it? But doesn't the attendance go down?

A: The transition to Friday was a result of feedback from people - and the reality of the Digital Age. During our first 15 years or so in business, people would say they didn't have enough time during the weekend to spend with relatives and friends.

They wondered why the reunion weekend had to be "half over" before the main event was held. Then, with the growth of Facebook and social-media websites, the traditional Friday-night reunion "icebreaker" came to be replaced by people keeping in touch via digital technology. In fact, because classmates already knew a lot about each other, the icebreakers weren't very well-attended.

So, we began scheduling reunions on Friday night. We were pleased, and honestly surprised, to see that the attendance is not only on par on with Saturday but often better. Worried that Friday will make it hard for people from out of town or out of state to attend? You shouldn't be: Most of those who live a considerable distance away come not just for the reunion, but also because they still have family here. So they like having a long weekend to spend more quality time with them. And if they have to juggle their schedules to make it back for a Friday-night reunion, they'll have several months' lead time to arrange it.

Note: Another advantage of Friday is that it can enable the group to be in a location that would normally be too expensive on a Saturday night. Since we're not competing as much with events like wedding receptions and galas, venues often charge less for space on Friday night. That allows us to keep the admission price down. And that, in turn, boosts the turnout.

Q No. 6: How many people in our class will come to the reunion? Is there any way to predict? Will half of the class be there?

A: Let's put it this way: If half of each class would attend their reunion, we'd be retired by now - and you wouldn't be reading this! The reality is that half of each class has little or no interest in a reunion. It's not that they hated high school. (Well, OK, in some cases they did.) But, for a lot of people, they keep up with maybe just one or two friends from high school. So a class-wide event just isn't important to them.

In the end, we're drawing from the remaining half of the class. Generally, at most 20 percent of the class will attend. So, for any group interested in our services, don't worry: We won't be retiring anytime soon!

Q No. 7: Just as people scrutinize the elements of a reunion, so too do they question whether they really want to attend. The decision-making can be quite personal. People ask themselves: "How do I look?" "Am I doing OK financially?" "Will I feel awkward attending the reunion by myself?" "Have I achieved the goals I set when I was younger?" How does your company address those concerns?

A: The best way is by staging events that are casual, inexpensive, and appeal to a wide variety of people. One thing we've learned is that if a reunion is perceived as being too pricey or stuffy, people will stay away. And the purpose of a reunion is to bring people together, not to scare them off.

A Class Act reunion is a party, not the prom! ©

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