Munching on Nana’s deviled eggs and grimacing at embarrassing jokes by distant uncles— family reunions conjure up images of small, casual, easy-going affairs.
But in fact, family reunions have become a significant part of the tourism and meetings industry, especially in cities like Detroit that have strong African-American populations. According to the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, family reunions occupy more than 15,000 room nights annually and generate more than $16 million in direct visitor spending.
The bureau is working to consciously build on that market, offering an annual familyreunion planning seminar. The most recent seminar, held in October at the MotorCity Casino Hotel, had nearly 1,000 registrants. It offered a trade show and sessions on the basics of reunion planning, using social media to support one’s event and ideas for activities in Detroit for one’s guests.
In fact, the bureau offers a range of free services to reunion planners, including help with selection of vendors and service providers, free promotional items and guidance in selecting activities for kids and adults. So that means less time for planners to sweat the details and more time for eating deviled eggs.