What exactly is involved in organizing a large VT meeting ? Some of you have organized VT meetings before, what did you do to plan the events ? How much work is it? Do you have a list of recommendations and also a list of what NOT to do? Jeannette
Contact VT headquarters first. I you really want to call out a BIG (more than 100 members) meeting and have support and backup, better email stephanie. It's a lot of work and be aware that money issues are easily overlooked in the preparation. My tip, have a simple day program and dinner with drinks afterwards (all on a volunteer basis). PJ
Hello Jeannette, A while ago VT put together some really good points for doing just what you ask. Take a look: VT Meetings Have fun :-) Pam.
Thanks, Pam. It's a very helpful link....a bit overwhelming. Jeannette
hi Jeannette, the Euromeet2008 in Karlsruhe was very well organised. If you look at that meeting page ("Back to the Roots of VirtualTourist" - Euromeet2008's Profile you have a great outline of all the information and service that was offered to the guests. I made a little journal with some comments about what I liked about the meeting (from an organisational view): "My Euromeet 2008 Journal" - Karlsruhe Travelogue by ATLC
I think the headache would be making bookings for x number of people and how many don't turn up. I think a deposit is the only way to guarantee you aren't left with a debt. Meets are fun though. I'm thinking of having one in NZ but just saying "kiwi and allikat" will be partying up in the mountains, anyone is welcome to come find us! LOL.
kiwi a meet in NZ would be awesome!!! ... and Jeanette, and I reading between the lines you're having a California meet? LA or SF area?
Nomad, Not really. There was some talk on another thread about a San Francisco meeting next summer and I think it would be fun. I don't think I have the "know-how" to organize a big meeting. Jeannette
Hi Jeannette I will be honest here ,in 2004 Lori & I organized a VT meeting and 14 people including us attended it was fun but I rather go to VT meets then organizing them . Often VT meets get organized if someone comes to your City or area . The organizer of course should check with the person who is visiting if this person even wants a meeting but they usually do . Then you just make it happen you pick a date and post the meeting . Then if many sign up you get nervous hahaha ohh boy what do I do . No not really ,you just go with it you start checking the area you live for fun things to do . Then you have a meet and greet on Friday (if you want a weekend VT meet ) . Then you pick a dinner venue for Friday dinner And then choose something fun to do on Saturday . Not too much because it ALWAYS runs a little late past scheduled time . Then another dinner venue for Saturday evening . But planning of the dinners will be the hardest thing to do because you really NEVER know who is coming and who is not . Try not to go too fancy because VT'rs come from all over and it cost money for the weekend ,but on the other hand it should all be voluntary so you don't have to attend . Come to dinner or don't ,but don't skip out after you have committed . So on Sunday morning have a simple breakfast somewhere ,and again for those who want to and there everybody will say Bye Byes .. Create excitement before the VT meet ,keep posting in Misc so that the excitement will continue . Organizers can also E-mail VT'rs if they want to and E-mail the people who live nearby where the VT meeting is held ,because not everyone reads the Meeting and events pages . That's all I can think of ,there is more but this is more then my fingers wanted to do . Hansi
Hi Jeannette - I don't recall having seen any VT meetings in the SF area since I've been on VT (2 years). I'll watch for one - let me know if you get it going. San Jose isn't a big destination for tourists, but I could recommend places to meet around here.
Jeannette, send an email to ATXtraveler (Mark)...we are in the middle of a VT meeting in Ft. Worth, Texas, right now (excuse me, "raht now"). Mark organized it, so I hear, and I am sure by the end of this weekend, he'll have lots of thoughts on the subject ;-)...be sure to ask him how the rodeo went this evening ;-) Bill
Yes true two BIG Vt meetings are going on this weekend one in Israel and the one in Texas just mentioned . We will be hearing more about both VT meets in a few days I am sure . Hansi
Its a lot of work Jeannette and it takes more than one person to really make it possible. You need two or three people who are able to work together, get along, and remain friends afterwards. There are lots of things to consider. You need to find locations to accomodate your group. You need to find things interesting for a large group. You need good organizatinal skills, lots of patience, and lots of support. When Ellielou, Frankcanfly, and I worked on Baltofest three years ago it was a wonderful experience. We all became close friends. We had arguements and lots of discussions and lots of ideas and plans to work on. But we started out as friends and ended up as better friends. Its a lot of work, but its worthwhile when everyone shows up and you see how much fun they are having. Would I do it again? Probably. Poor Jenniflower tried to plan a little meeting in London and ended up with over 75 people attending. To my knowledge she planned most of the meeting herself. I know it must have been stressful for her as the meeting kept growing and growing. Be prepared for surprises. Let it flow and watch it grow. Don't make any decisions to soon. Watch as the list of attendees grows and plan as it grows. Larry
I haven't organised a VT meeting WITH accommodation, however, I have organised various other (international) conferences up to 700 people. What I would advise with a VT meeting, is set up a list of possible accommodation, try and get some discounts, but leave it up to the VT-ers themselves to make the bookings. This is how it was done in Karlsruhe also. That means that as organisers you take no personal risks with bookings. The excursions were with public transportation, so no risk there either. The only risk there was, as far as I can see with the Karlsruhe meet, were the two evening meals. With more than 100 people at each venue, the guests were obliged to register.
Jeannette I would make a real effort. (just back from traveling day from hell)
On average I have a 20% "No SHOW" at smaller meetings (up to 20 people). It's always hard to make a reservation for a restaurant up front. I just count in groups of 4 (number of square tables with 4 persons each). Allow enough time at the start of the meeting to get everybody together; and give them the opportunity for some drink & food and a toilet stop before starting out. Remember: the bigger the grouper, the slower it will move. Splitting up is always a good thing. Getting back together for dinner is too. PJ
Hi Jeanette I'm a great proponent of the "See one, do one, teach one", methodology. Its great (if somewhat nerve-inducing) to attend your first VT Meet. My first was one in Brighton in December 2006 (wow - that long ago?). It was a small Meet - around 10 or so, of us, and very informal. I also then went to a EuroMeet on Santorini in 2007 - now that was a biggie. I then arranged for my first VT Meet in December 2007 for Manchester's Christmas Markets which I am repeating this year. This is a relatively informal meeting as people want to see and do different things from the markets so I give everyone a little information pack at the start and in that is a map of the Manchester city centre and the route I intend to take between the different market sites. We arrange for re-gathering times and points so that people don't feel obliged to stay in one group and don't have to worry if they want to spend a lot of time at any one stall. There are also plenty of places along the way where people can have a sit down and a drink - that's important because you need to be clear on your meeting arrangements how physically demanding it might be or what challenges physically impaired people might encounter (like cobblestones in Manchester) AND don't base it solely on your own physical abilities, one person's short walk is another person's mild hike! I'll be encountering the difficulties you are thinking over next year - but aided by the highly competent Ricky52 and DAO. We've had initial discussions about getting people to see the North of England - a long weekend Meet to get people away from London and seeing some of the other great sights this country has to offer. We'll be talking it through at the Christmas Markets Meet and hopefully, we'll have something listed for next year by end of November. Listing early is important if you're hoping for a large Meet - people need to be able to plan it into their travel plans for the year. As others have already noted, financial planning is important - make it clear from the start if there will be expenses and at what range you envisage them. Make it clear if you're expecting deposits to be paid in advance or on arrival so people can be sure to have the money (and currency) available. To end this, I would say, start with something small, get one under your belt before diving in the deep end and not spotting the rock just under the water.
I think a 25 to 30 % cancellation should be expected , But also a few last minute add ons should be expected . I have already printed out a list of the Cascais Portugal attendees . It's 8 months ahead ,but by printing the attendance page I get an idea of how many will sign up and how many actually attend the meeting Things happen to people and that is unavoidable . It is very frustrating for organizers if VT'rs signed up do not respond to your E-mails and you see these VT'rs on line . That is an issue I really wished that people think about that ,it does not take much effort to communicate your situation with the organizer. Of course many cannot plan ahead this far due to work obligations . But at least let the organizers know your situation . The Greece VT meeting and the Israel one had a situation where money had to be paid in advance ,so did the Halifax one (for dinner ) . So when the organizers send out their letters it would be very helpful to respond asap one way or the other . Ok that'll do it for now Hurrahhhhh for VT meetings keep em coming jajaja. You think you getting enough info here Jeannette haha I do . Hansi
From our experience with the Baltimore meeting and after talking with other people who have organized meetings I found that approx 70% of those who sign up do attend the meeting. The 70% number seems to have been the average from most of the big meetings. Larry
i would say that it´s best not to organise a meeting alone that has more than 25 people coming. especially if it is the first time one organises a meet. i think it's really great that all these wonderful people want to do meetings and we want them to enjoy the meet too. finding restaurants that will take bookings without preordering all the food is hard and it's so hard to preorder as we have people with so many different diets on vt cause we are such a global thing. i would advice people never to book accomodation for the people coming, but to give the contacts to all the places in the area where they can stay and then let them book and pay themselves. we had a case once where a member reserved hotel rooms and some people didn't come, even if they said so the day before arrival and she got in to a very hard situation with the hotel because of that. i would love to attend any meeting and i love to help organising too. the nature of my job right now means that being the chief organiser of a big meet is hard to me, but i am happy to assist (and organisers of big meets need assistents). i have for instance offerd to help out antonio showing people around lisbon and environs at next years lisbon meet as i know lisbon quite well and speak portugese.
How does one keep a meeting small if it's in a popular destination like San Francisco? You don't advertise it on VT, I suppose :-) Jeannette
I have *never* organized a meeting - but here's one item that *could* work: don't advertise it too far in advance, bad part is, I'm not sure what would be a good time. Six weeks? pure guess. Considering some locals could be busy, and those of us who do go to San Jose regularly may not be able to make it in short notice, that could be a good way, but I'm not 100% sure it will work. The large Euromeet's get announced about a year in advance. You could also ask VT headquarters if they have any advice, or if it's OK to put a limit on the number of people who could attend. I think that during the Karlsruhe meet there was a deadline on when you could sign up, but I could be wrong. I think if the locale you find is restrictive, it may be a valid reason for keeping a meeting small, but again, VT HQ would need to validate my thoughts. So if it's OK to keep to 20, I would take up to 24-26 that could be worked in if the send you a note to compensate for someone not showing up. I would also ask if you can collect the money up front (don't know if this is OK) - I know for Karlsruhe the money was collected on site. May also want to send ricky52 a note, he's a guru by now and I believe he managed the money part of Karlsruhe. I had to cancel my trip to San Jose this week - but am considering going in November (so it would be a quick hop to the city), however I'm trying to stay to the earlier part of the month to avoid the Thanksgiving price hikes.
When I organized the Artist's Meet we were a different sort of Vt meeting. We were more of a retreat than a regular meet. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, we had more scripted time and we all stayed at the same retreat center. I did copy the idea started by EllieLou, Larry and Frank for a meeting page / website that we first saw w/ Baltoberfest ("Introducing The Great VT BaltOberfest 2006" - baltoberfest's Profile. They were able to link tips, and accomodation info to those pages and made it easier for us attending to have a one stop shop for everthing we needed to know. (My version for our retreat can be found at: "VT Artist’s Retreat" - ArtistsOnVT's Profile What I recommend from listening and learning from others: Don't sweat it. We are all travelers and can fend for ourselves most of the time. Plan one thing a day, maybe two and leave the rest for folks to wander on their own. Give your guests flexibility and allow them to hook into one another to share accommodation and sightseeing if desired. Pick flexible venues if possible ... like planning a meal at Pier 39 in SF would be easier as folks can pick their own booth to buy from and meet on the docks to eat in company ... at least that's what my family does we we go there for lunch - saves on wars and lines :) Point folks in the direction they need for more info, but don't spoon feed them - if they are spoon fed travelers, you probably will be driven nuts by them. Pick another local or two to help you with the pages and the planning. It's too much for just one person. that's all I can think of right now ..... but if you do this, remember I go to a family reunion a little north of SF every January ... hint --- hint :)
I am still working out details but I plan a slightly different approach for a VT meet in Orlando, Florida the 1st week of October 2009. I anticipate issues, problems, and challenges but also expect fun times, lots of laughter, and some great interaction among VTers. I have already drawn on some of the wisdom and experiences of those that have attempted VT meetings and hoepfully will avoid many of the pitfalls and roadblocks.
Thats a good question about how to keep it small. Jenniflower had only wanted to plan a small meeting and it grew to become the biggest meeting ever at that time. Some have been bigger since. If you want it small and know exactly who is going to be in your area and who wants to attend then I would not advertise it. I would send emails to those who are planning on getting together and just plan it amoung yourselves. I know that if I saw a meeting posted for San Francisco and it was in a time when I was free to travel I would immediately post my name to the list. Thats how they grow so fast and get large. Larry
What about putting a limit on numbers. Of course you would have to keep good touch with those signed up, and if anyone doesn't respond to emails or pay deposit, then drop them off and let someone else in. Many of us prepaid a lot of money for the Darwin Survivor Meet, in order for the organiser to book vehicles and campsites and Permits etc. Some paid from overseas. So this system can work.
you can keep it down to private emails in the beginning and only advertise it shortly before the meeting. that should put a natural limit to the nomber of people coming. even better. find someone to help you organise it and you will be fine with a big meet i think.
'Thats a good question about how to keep it small. Jenniflower had only wanted to plan a small meeting and it grew to become the biggest meeting ever at that time. Some have been bigger since. If you want it small and know exactly who is going to be in your area and who wants to attend then I would not advertise it. I would send emails to those who are planning on getting together and just plan it amoung yourselves. I know that if I saw a meeting posted for San Francisco and it was in a time when I was free to travel I would immediately post my name to the list. Thats how they grow so fast and get large. Larry' You remember well Larry :) Prior to the big London 2006 meet I had only arranged one other meeting - 18 people came to that. So I thought that the Jan one would be those kinda numbers too... but 115 people signed up! I was gob smacked, and actually had to change venue three times as numbers rose as time drew nearer. I ended up having to hire out an entire restaurant in Central London (NOT an easy feat I assure you!) only when I gave them a HUGE £ deposit. 88.5 people came in the end. Most people I have to say did cancel with me properly, only about 15 just didn't pitch on the main event on the Saturday night, which I thought was rather good. We had a wonderful time over those 3 days but NEVER AGAIN. I have arranged other things before (used to be in the wedding industry), and I actually do enjoy organising things, but arranging a meeting with people literally coming from all over the world was very stressful, replying to VT emails every day, catering for different food tastes, trying to please everyone (impossible), thinking of restaurants every day that weren't expensive (in London!???) - plus catered for a variety of tastes, giving hotel advice, travel advice, and the huge expense for one person on their own (putting £1000 in deposits down etc.). I would do it again if I were in a team of 2 or 3, but never again on my own. Big meets are lovely if over a few days too... where people have the option to join in arranged excursions or do their own thing for a morning etc. Big meets can be a lot of fun (even if a blur at the end of it!). Since then I have not advertised ONE meeting I have held haha. You live and learn!
Here's the page I set up for the January 2006 London meeting which people felt was very helpful. "Saturday, 21st January 2006 - Destination: LONDON!" - London21Jan2006's Profile There were some private meetings held too that were not advertised on this homepage.
wow, Jen, it does seem like a lot of work, especially trying to please everybody. I never thought that people would expect the organizers to arrange for hotel rooms. Jeannette