Why are reunions always in July or August?
We want to hold our major reunions at a time when most people can come. Every poll we’ve taken shows that more people are willing and able to come from about mid-July through mid-August; for other times, the numbers drop off dramatically.
Where have reunions been held?
The first known reunion was in San Antonio, TX in 1976. It was attended mainly by people in the early to mid-’60s. This same group held reunions in Las Vegas, NV in 1978; Denver , CO in 1981; and San Antonio in 1986. In the meantime, a group of people mainly from the late ’60s to mid-’70s held reunions in Dallas,TX in 1982 and 1987, and another group, mainly from the late ’70s to mid-’80s, held a reunion in Austin, TX in 1987. The Association was formed in 1987. The following reunions were or will be produced by the Association:
1990: Dulles Airport Marriott (Washington, DC area)
1993: Wigwam Resort, Litchfield Park, AZ (Phoenix area)
1996: Sheraton Music City, Nashville, TN
1999: SunBurst Resort, Scottsdale, AZ (Phoenix area)
2002: Omni Mandalay, Irving, TX (Dallas area)
2005: Hyatt Pier 66, Fort Lauderdale, FL
2008: Sacramento Radisson, Sacramento, CA
2011: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, Albuquerque New Mexico
2014: Hyatt Tysons Corner Virginia
There have also been several “mini-reunions.” These mostly regional affairs include the “mini-reunions” held in connection with the Association Executive Committee’s annual meetings (which move around the country).
Why have reunions generally been in the more southerly states (where it’s warmer in Summer) than in areas with cooler temperatures?
Mainly, economics: In general, people want us to have reunions where hotel rates are relatively low. In the Summer, that usually means areas where it’s warmer (because that’s generally the low season in those areas—although there are some very popular cities in the Sun Belt where even the Summer hotel rates are higher than we’d like); in areas where temperatures are cooler, Summer is usually the high season.That said, as a practical matter, heat has never been a major problem for us at a reunion. The hotels are air conditioned; the swimming pools are refreshing (and generally larger than they are where it’s cooler); and people dress for the weather.
How are reunion sites selected?
We believe that in order for as many people as possible to be able to attend at least one major reunion, those reunions should be held, over the years, in as many different areas of the country as possible, consistent with other site selection criteria (such as cost and convenient accessibility).
In order to do this, we’ve divided the country into three regions of roughly equal geographical size: West, Central, and East. Reunions are rotated among the regions (in no particular order). The Association Executive Committee, with input from the standing Reunions Committee, selects the region for the next reunion, and the Reunions Committee investigates potential sites within that region to determine which ones best meet the criteria discussed below under “What are the criteria for reunion sites?” That process begins almost as soon as (and sometimes even before) the previous reunion has been held.
The Reunion Committee submits a Resume to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau of the cities we are exploring. This helps expedite the process because the CVB can send out global leads to the properties that fit our requirements and it establishes a relationship within the city which can lead to other relationships we can leverage as an Association.
The resume summarizes the history of our last 6 reunions including room blocks and pickup; food and beverage consumption from both the scheduled reunion events and from the hotel outlets and any other pertinent data that may assist us with getting the best deal in that location. It also gives a brief synopsis about our Association and our unique qualities. Those hotels interested contact the Reunion Committee Chair with a proposal of interest including a basic room price.
The Reunion Committee will then review the packages and weed out those that do not qualify. Once there is enough information site visits are arranged. Once the first site visits are concluded they are able to narrow it down some more. They may then do another visit with some other committee members to do a second more detailed visit to further evaluate if the property, service and staff will meet our minimal requirements. An Executive Committee meeting is set and the top contenders are then submitted, along with a report on all the site visits for discussion. Sometimes it can be difficult to narrow down the right property because we cannot always find exactly what we want and need. Options are reviewed and discussed and the decision is made on what criteria we think we can live with our without. Much discussion can occur and the Executive Committee may request another visit or more information if it can’t be decided at that meeting. Because both we and the hotels that host our reunions need to plan far in advance, we need to decide on the reunion site about 18 months or so before the reunion.
The Executive Committee members are from a broad range of classes, and each member of the committee does their best to represent, and to make a decision for, our MHS/THS “family” as a whole. If possible the meetings at which the site decisions are made are the annual meeting and are usually held in connections with regional “mini-reunions,” and are open to anyone who wants to attend, and although only the Executive Committee members have a vote, anyone who attends the meeting is welcome to participate in the discussion. If time is of the essence it may be a conference call with the Executive Committee and the Reunion Committee in lieu of the annual meeting.
What are the criteria for reunion sites?
There are a few basic criteria that we consider essential: Feedback from polls and other sources tells us that reunions should be convenient to a major airport, and that, all other things being more or less equal, hotel room rates should be as low as possible, consistent with our standards of quality. In addition, as a practical matter, the hotel needs to have enough guest rooms and banquet, event, and meeting space to meet our needs. A large swimming pool area is an important plus, but we’re willing to make tradeoffs: our experience suggests that there are far more people hanging out around the pool than are actually in it at any given time, so the important thing seems to be large, comfortable outdoor spaces for people to hang out in.
Among the sites that meet these basic criteria, we also consider other things. For example, we’ve found that it’s very advantageous to be the only major group at the hotel during the reunion (or, at least, by far the largest of the groups that might be there), so there is such a thing as a hotel that’s too big. Other things we’ve found to be important include the quality of the food and the quality and attitude of the hotel staff in general—we really love places where the staff is highly competent, really wants to make sure we have a good time, and even wants to party with us! We’ve also come to prefer hotels that are more resort-like rather than oriented to corporate meetings (and we’ve also found that “resort-like” does not necessarily mean “expensive”). Then there are the intangibles, which add up to how the place “feels.”
Without going into more detail: The bottom line is that we are looking for a site that is accessible and affordable, and that has what we need to produce a fun, enjoyable, and memorable reunion experience.
How can I influence where at least one future reunion will be held?
For background and context, see the discussions under “How are reunion sites selected?” and “What are the criteria for reunion sites?” As a practical matter, a bare suggestion of a particular state, or city, or even a particular hotel, is not very helpful. In order for us to give serious consideration to a particular site, we need to have, at a minimum, enough information to know that that site meets our criteria for a reunion location. The more information we have, the better. Again, as a practical matter, the most serious consideration is given to the sites that seem to offer us more than the other sites we might consider. In this regard, the presence of one or more local people who are clearly committed to doing what needs to be done to produce a successful reunion in their community is a big plus.
The Reunions Committee does not have the time or resources to investigate every potential city. This is where your opportunity comes in: If the site you have in mind is not already high on the committee’s list of sites to be investigated, you might be able to persuade them to investigate it by providing them with the information mentioned above. To do that, contact the Reunions Committee Chair, Sally Judd, at 661-287-5936 or e-mail Sally Judd. She’ll provide you with details on what specific information we need.
Why are reunion registration fees higher than the cost of the meals included in the fees?
Although the meals are the largest single item included in the reunion registration fees, they are not the only expenses those fees must, and are intended to, cover. There are also other costs at the reunion, such as the DJs, on site registation materials and sometimes meeting space. Registration fees also cover reunion expenses incurred before the reunion, such as mailing reunion information and registration forms. And although the members of the Reunions Committee pay for their personal expenses (such as meals) while investigating potential reunion sites, we can’t expect them to pay all their transportation expenses out of their own pockets. There are also certain administrative expenses, such as telephone calls to hotels and to other providers of services connected with the reunion.
Finally, in order to be able to tell people about reunions, we need to find them and keep in touch with them so we’ll have their current addresses when the time comes. Because the reunions benefit from these ‘database growth and maintenance’ expenses, reunion registration fees include a portion of them (the balance of the funds to pay for these expenses comes from Association dues and from financial contributions to the Association).
In short: Reunion registration fees must, and do, cover all of our direct expenses for the reunion, as well as a portion of the indirect “database growth and maintenance” expenses that benefit the reunion. Only the hotels and other providers of services make a profit from our reunions; the Association and the Reunions Committee members do not.
What can I do to increase the number of my classmates and friends who will attend the next reunion?
The specific things you can do fall into two categories: (1) You can help find people who have never been found, or who have been found but have since gone missing, get their current mailing addresses, and send them to M/THSA HQ (address on page 2) so we can send them information about the reunion. (2) You can contact the people who have been found, remind them of the reunion, and personally encourage them to be there. You don’t have to do all of the things that could be done; every little bit helps. Also, although you don’t have to be a class coordinator to do any of these things, doing them as a class coordinator means that you get regular support from the Association, including reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. For more information about becoming a class coordinator, contact the Association at M/THSA HQ at P.O. Box 3177, Tampa, FL 33601
If you want to help without becoming a class coordinator, please contact the coordinator(s) for your class, if there are any. Otherwise, you can contact the Association for a list of missing people in your class, or a (much shorter) list of people in your class, or who were last known to be in your state, for whom we have potential leads to their present whereabouts.