The Crucial Significance of Planning
For Any Event
By Apolinario Villalobos
In the course of my sharing in seminars on tourism as a resource speaker, I always give importance to planning which is a vital component of a tour package and a social event.
A tour package should be planned based on tried or simulated activities which involve time, mode of travel, offices, people, and outdoor events. A social event such as birthday, family and school reunion, wedding, debut, and other similar activities should b discussed thoroughly, based on presumed unforeseen consequences.
Today, some schools hire professional event planners to assist institutional organizers for the smooth handling of their reunion events. For such, I always remind seminar participants/ future events consultants that:
- The organizer or group of organizers should give importance to the announcements, be they free or paid, via the different media such as radio, TV or print.
- Calling on the alumni should not be limited to the social media such as internet alone.
- It must always be presumed that most senior alumni do not use the internet, and in their senior age, they just rely on radio and TV to update themselves on current events.
- Message of welcome on tarpaulin or whatever practical material should be posted at the town’s or city’s arrival areas such bus terminals or roads leading to the venue.
- A registration fee should be charged to offset the expenses of the homecoming event, and whatever excess should go to the organization’s fund for future events or projects which the alumni officers can discuss after the homecoming.
- The officers should encourage the coming out of ideas from homecoming alumni, some of whom may be willing to fund projects that the organization would like to undertake.
- It is important for the alumni officers to know that their responsibilities are not confined within the venue and the day of the homecoming. They should be intelligently sensitive to “feel” whatever ideas that homecoming alumni would like to share, especially, from those who can afford to initiate the funding of projects by providing the necessary “seed money”. If such opportunity crops up, the officers should take note of the details such as contacts of the alumni and schedule for the necessary meetings with them after the reunion.
- There should be a post-event meeting among the officers and committee members to discuss and evaluate observed flaws during the celebration and come up with recommendations for the next set of officers. The organizers should not be downhearted in case of loop holes observed during the past event, and instead concentrate on how to refine such roughages for the success of the next event.
The members of the committees to be organized for the homecoming should be made to understand that they have responsibilities. As much as possible:
- The responsibilities should be shared with representatives from different batches of alumni, if possible, as familiarity of homecomers is very crucial in reunions, and which younger generations of alumni may find hard to do, considering the number of years that have elapsed.
- The retired teachers themselves, who are willing to share their time and effort as part of the committees, should be involved. The young members of the committees should not be intimidated by the presence of the former mentors, some of whom, they may not even know personally.
- Most importantly, prospective officers and members of committees should be made to understand that to be listed as such is not just for prestige or honor, but involves a lot of sacrifice, hence, they are expected to really work for their worth.
On the actual day of the reunion:
- All members of the committees should be at the venue at least one hour before the start of the events. They should wear a distinct uniform for easy identification in case of inquiry from long- gone homecoming alumni.
- Directional signs should be posted at campus entrances leading to the registration area and venues of events for the benefit of the alumni who have been gone for so many years and who should be presumed, to encounter difficulty in finding their way around due to changes within the campus.
- Receptionists should be posted at entrances to lend a warm atmosphere to welcome the arriving alumni. It could help if willing former mentors can also be on hand at entrances to welcome back their former students whom they personally know.
- Amplified announcements should be constantly made as necessary reminders. Most importantly, all officers should make themselves visible by practically checking on the development on arrivals until the start of the first activity.
- A medic or at least a first aid team should be around to assist senior alumni if necessary.
- The members of the committee in charge of fund- raising through selling of memorabilia such as t-shirts, key chains, etc. should be posted at the different entrances at least an hour before the start of the events, so that the t-shirt can be worn by the late purchasers for batch identification purposes.
I always remind the participants to the seminars on tourism/social event packaging that reunions are not made just for sharing of past days in the campus. Such activities are also opportunities for organizers to “fish” for ideas from alumni as to what projects to undertake for the benefit of the school or their community as a whole. As mentioned earlier, it should be noted that most schools today hire professional event planners to help them out with smooth handling of events. If professional event organizers are not available for their services as consultant, former mentors and alumni who are just “nearby” can be asked to assist and be made part of the organizing committee.
On the other hand, these professional event organizers should encourage the institution to involve prospective graduates in the organizing and handling of actual activities. This is the opportunity for the institution to observe those with leadership and organizational qualities which could be tapped for future homecomings. These prospects should not necessarily belong to the dean’s list.
Finally, I also share with the seminar participants that other events can be similarly planned just like the school reunion, that has been cited as an example. But always, the vital components of the planning effort in the case of a group, are the common sense and sacrifice, without the thought of who gets the credit in case of success. The group should act with homogeneity, as the failure of one is the failure of all… especially, the event itself.