One of the biggest deterrents to any class reunion attendance is the price of the registration ticket.
If you price it too high, you won’t be able to attract enough people to make it a worthwhile event.
If the price is too low, then you won’t break even and will need to raise funds to host the event.
Fortunately, there is a way to create an affordable class reunion without sacrificing on quality.
It just requires you to be a diligent cost cutter and a fearless negotiator.
The tips below have been submitted to us over the years by dozens of class reunion planners. Not every one will apply to you but make sure to highlight the ones that do and use them whenever possible.
We have organized the tips into three sections so it is easier to follow.
Money Saving Ideas For Your Next Class Reunion
- Encourage the class reunion planning committee members to shop around. Doing so will easily save you 10-20% per vendor. Get multiple quotes (from hotels, caterers, transportation, decorations etc.) or at least more than two for every service you need. Multiple quotes will keep every vendor honest about pricing and will lower the cost of your class reunion. An added benefit is that if a vendor really wants your business, they may lower the price or they add on more value to their original offer.
- Co-host the class reunion with the graduating class before or after yours. Co-hosting results in lower expenses and larger gatherings. You can also co-host with a nearby high school of the same graduating year as well.
- Can you use the school gymnasium for the class reunion? Wouldn’t the reunion draw even more people if the event were held at the actual school?
- Host the class reunion at a local restaurant. Just have people RSVP and you’ll have no additional costs. Those that show up pay for their meal just like everyone else.
- Another option is to host a potluck at a local classmate’s house. Make sure you have enough volunteers to help set up the place and clean up after. Make a list of who is bringing what and you’ve got yourself a grand old party where people can chat and catch up.
- Create your own class reunion website for around $15 a month and if you are really stressed for money, then try the free option. Read our “Class Reunion Website Builder Review“
- Make sure to select a class reunion website builder that lets you track rsvp’s, invites, and save the date emails to save on design, postage and the headache of tracking who is coming etc.
- Don’t mail anything. You’re just wasting paper, postage and money. Anything you need to mail can be emailed. Use Evite.com for save the dates, and invites, the class reunion website for registration, and payment, and an email newsletter to bring people up to date.
- If you have classmates that are lawyers or designers, then don’t be bashful about asking for their help.
- Solicit coupons from area restaurants and other businesses. Include them in the class reunion welcome packet.
- Approach alumni owned businesses to sponsor an activity in exchange for some advertising.
- D.J.’s can be expensive. Have a close friend play music from your era. Just provide them with a list of music and they can handle the rest.
- Have a fellow alum from a different graduating class help out by being the photographer or the videographer. The result may not be as professional as you would like, but it will still serve as a great memento of the reunion.
- Negotiate with every vendor. Ask for less busier times, cheaper options. For example, hotels will offer better deals during traditionally slow periods. At out reunion in upstate New York, we were able to score a great deal for a block of hotel rooms and meeting space for our class reunion during thanksgiving (A traditionally slow period).
- Make sure to look at previous class reunion budgets to get a better idea of what your needs will be. Ask the previous year’s class reunion planner for advice on where they should have cut costs without sacrificing the quality of the event.
- Sell ads in memory book. Most local businesses will gladly hand over $50-$100 for an ad in the memory book. All you have to do is ask. Also, every vendor that you are giving business to (Hotel, Caterer, Printer, etc) should be required to put an ad in the memory book.
- Have companies donate design services, or volunteer their services in exchange for a banner in the banquet space. Alternatively, companies can opt to give door prizes and awards. Businesses can also sponsor name tags etc.
How to help Classmates Save Money At Hotels
- Get group hotel rates for classmates that need a place to stay. The average group discount at a hotel is more than 20% off the regular room rates.
- Get free rooms at a hotel when you block rooms for classmates.
- If the hotel has banquet space, they may give you discounted room rent as well for blocking hotel rooms.
- Book the class reunion during a shoulder month (the months surrounding the busy months), and not during high season. Rates for hotels, caterers, photographers and other vendors tend to be lower then.
- Caterers and hotels that regularly service your school will often book an event without a need for any deposits. Oftentimes, there are no penalties for cancelling, or any attrition related expenses.
- Ask for a free hospitality suite from the hotel if you block rooms for your class reunion. The hospitality suite can be used as a central meeting point for classmates. Read “Top 10 Most Popular Hotel Amenities For A Class Reunion“
- Ask what the comp (complimentary) room ratio is if you block hotel rooms. This is the number of rooms that the hotel will comp if you reserve (and pay) for a certain number of rooms. For example, if your comp ratio is 1 for 25, then for every 25 hotel rooms blocked and paid for, your class reunion would get one free room (to give to class reunion planner for their efforts?)
- If a hotel is not an affordable option, then book your meeting rooms at a community center, elks lodge or a restaurant.
How To Save Money At The Class Reunion Banquet
- Instead of a big banquet dinner, offer to have a large picnic in the park. Do a BBQ cookout with lots of music and games to keep people busy. A banquet dinner will cost at least $20-$25 per person whereas a picnic will run you closer to $10, a significant savings.
- Banquet meals generally have more food than is necessary. Avoid the extra cost by asking for smaller portions of meat and higher portions of veggies if you are doing a plated meal.
- Don’t do an open bar.
- If you have to cut expenses, get rid of any door prizes that you may have to pay for.
- Instead of ordering a full fledged dessert menu, order ice cream in huge tubs. Have an ice cream station with lots of toppings so classmates can create their own concoctions.
- Many hotels and banquet houses have in house DJ’s that offer discounted pricing for their services. Make sure to ask if your venue has any such arrangements for Videographers and photographers as well.
- Request price comparison from each vendor for a buffet vs. a sit down meal, cash bar vs. open bar etc.
- Use house colors for linen if the cost for linen is too much. This is a good way to save $50-$100. Many banquet houses have their own house linen which they may waive during the negotiations. If you insist on school colors that they have to rent outside, then it will cost you more.
The tips above were submitted to us by many class reunion planners over the years and while you can’t follow every one of them, just using a few will make a measurable effect on the cost of the class reunion.
What to read next?
Since you’re thinking of ways to save money, why not read “Booking A Hotel For A Class Reunion? Here Are 7 Ways To Save Money”
Photo credit: Taxbrackets.org