HOW TO ORGANISE AN ALUMNI REUNION

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1 HOW TO ORGANISE AN ALUMNI REUNION UCL Alumni Relations Development & Alumni Relations Office UCL Gower Street London WC1E 6BT Tel: +44(0) ReunionPackLandscape_Cover.indd 1 17/12/ :57

2 A message from UCL Alumni Relations We re thrilled to hear you re planning a get together with your friends from your student days. There s no better way to get back in touch and celebrate your time on campus. But we know that organising a reunion can also seem quite daunting, so we ve put together this pack to help make the arrangements for your event that little bit easier. We understand that all reunions are unique and that they can be anything from a small intimate lunch meeting to a large function with entertainment, but hopefully the information inside will give you some ideas on where to start and the kind of issues that might come up. We hope it s useful and we look forward to working with you on your reunion to make it a memorable and enjoyable event. Tel: +44 (0) ReunionPackLandscape_Cover.indd 2 17/12/ :58

3 1 2 Planning your event First steps and practicalities Inviting UCL alumni to your reunion Who to contact The procedure for contacting alumni Invitation tips Booking a venue UCL venues and external venues Catering Choosing your menu and other considerations Making your event a success Useful information and helpful tips HOW TO ORGANISE AN ALUMNI REUNION ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 1 17/12/ :01

4 First steps Before you go on, it might be useful to think about what you ll need for your event. This will help you to prioritise and plan ahead. When Choose a date for your event. Remember that you will need time to organise the event, and your invitees will need sufficient notice. Start to plan at least six months in advance if possible. Take into consideration public and school holidays and if you want to hold your event at UCL, bear term dates in mind as there will be less space available during term time. Why What is the purpose of your event? (for instance a cultural outing or anniversary get-together). What sort of event will it be? (a reception, dinner, lecture, tour). If it has a special theme, consider linking your event with an existing event taking place at UCL or externally. You can find out more about current UCL events at Where What is your preferred location and room set-up? UCL has a variety of different venues suitable for alumni reunion events. We can put you directly in touch with UCL Room Bookings to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, we can recommend external venues. Who Who are you going to invite? How many people do you want to attend? Remember to allow for last-minute drop-outs. Events planners allow for a typical drop-out rate of up to 40%, depending on whether attendance is paid for or free. If you would prefer to organise the reunion with others, you could ask a few classmates to join forces with you to set up a reunion committee. This would also be useful if you plan to continue your reunions in future years. PLANNING ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 2 17/12/ :01

5 Budgeting Work out a simple budget at the start of your planning, including all the costs you expect to incur, and your income if you need to charge people for tickets. For large events, you may wish to set up a separate bank account to monitor spending for the event. Costs to consider should include: Entertainment music, speakers Mailing and print costs invitations, tickets Venue hire Catering Decorations Local accommodation Transport You may also wish to add a contingency of around 10% to the overall total to cover forgotten or unexpected costs. If you are charging guests to attend, ensure that the invitation includes the date after which payment can no longer be returned, for example prior to the date final numbers are required for catering. 1 PLANNING YOUR EVENT ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 3 17/12/ :01

6 Tasks Decide on the type of reunion you want to have (eg dinner, reception, lecture) Request your classmates details from the Alumni Office (please allow two weeks to receive data) Decide on a budget for your event Pick a date and venue Inform the Alumni Office of the details of the event Send your invitation text to the Alumni Office so they can send out your invitations by post and (usually up to four months depending on where your guests are located) Record the responses as they arrive Confirm numbers for the venue and any catering (including any special requirements such as parking, food allergies) Prepare any signage needed Send any alumni contact details up dates you receive on to the Alumni Office Prepare any badges and guest lists and send a copy of the guest list to the Alumni Office Prepare a list of attendees to take to the event Ensure that you or a fellow guest takes photos at your reunion After the reunion Reconcile the budget and decide what to do with any surplus PLANNING Thank any special guests or helpers Send a full list of attendees, a brief report of your event and photographs to the Alumni Office ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 4 17/12/ :01

7 Practicalities Equipment What equipment will you need? Will you need a microphone for speeches, or perhaps a screen to show a film or slide show? How do you want the furniture to be arranged? Your venue manager will be able to advise you on this. Contingency plans What if it rains? Do you have a Plan B? Are there extra resources or emergency cash available on the day? Do you know what to do in an emergency? Planning You may wish to create a checklist in order to organise your time before the event. Our example opposite may give you some ideas. ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 5 17/12/ :01

8 Now for the fun part who to invite. Here are some tips on how to find your friends and remember we re always here to help. Who should you contact? Alumni Relations Team UCL Development & Alumni Relations UCL Gower Street London WC1E 6BT Tel: +44 (0) Please contact us at least six months prior to your reunion. Data Protection Enclosed in this pack is an Information Request form. Once you have contacted us to determine the viability of your event, please fill in this form and return to us. After we have received your form we can send you the names of your classmates. This will also give you an idea of appropriate venue size. Lost alumni Our database holds current contact details for about 80% of UCL alumni. The remaining 20% of lost alumni mostly comprise people who have changed contact details and not updated us. When we send you the names of your classmates, we will highlight the names of alumni who do not have a current address on our database. You may be able to update us with some of these addresses, or you may receive them through other contacts. Please send on ALL new contact details you receive from your reunion classmates. We will then add the data to the alumni database (after sending a letter requesting consent to the alumnus/a). This will ensure your invitation reaches as many of your classmates as possible. What information do you need to provide? your name and contact details who you would like to invite for intance alumni who graduated in History in 1977 when you would like to hold your event your preferred format (we can give you some ideas on this) and venue. INVITING ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 6 17/12/ :01

9 Invitation Check-List The most effective way of promoting your reunion is to send both an invitation and a postal invitation, which can be a simple letter. We are happy to send your and letter from the Alumni Office. Tips for content: include your contact details, so responses come directly to you ask recipients to supply their current contact details to you when booking ask recipients to forward the invitation on to class mates they are in touch with include payment details for instance, to whom cheques should be made payable provide a closing date for bookings about three weeks prior to the event. 2 INVITING UCL ALUMNI ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 7 17/12/ :01

10 Finding a venue Whether you choose a venue at UCL or elsewhere, the further in advance you book, the higher the chance it will be available. We recommend booking a venue at least six months prior to your event to avoid disappointment. UCL venues UCL has a great variety of different rooms suitable for events, from individual meetings to gala dinners. UCL Room Bookings also offers a substantial discount to alumni on room hire prices. To find out about the different rooms available at UCL, visit the Room Bookings website at Some of the most popular rooms and their dining capacities are listed below. The Whistler Room (8 people) The Terrace Restaurant (40 people) The Old Refectory (80 people) The Jeremy Bentham Room (150 people) BOOKING ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 8 17/12/ :01

11 If you are holding a stand-up reception, the capacity of each venue can be approximately doubled. The Alumni Relations team can put you in touch with the UCL Room Bookings Department, who can advise you with your exact needs taken into account. They in turn will put you in contact with the Catering Department. UCL Union UCL alumni have free access to any of the Union s bars and cafés with one guest. UCL Union bars and meeting rooms can also be hired for private functions. The Alumni Relations team can put you in touch with the UCL Union. 3 BOOKING A VENUE ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 9 17/12/ :01

12 External venues There are several important considerations to take into account before you start to search for an external venue. With popular venues booked out over a year in advance, planning is crucial if you are shorter on time, you may need to be flexible with dates. Set your priorities What are your top priorities for the event? An amazing view or good transport links? A formal atmosphere or relaxed and fun? Every decision helps narrow down your list of potential venues. Create a shortlist Before arranging a visit, check venue availability and request a brochure or go online virtual visits are quicker, easier and cheaper. Many venue websites include comprehensive information and can help you create a reasonable shortlist, so you visit only venues that match your criteria. Read the small print Always check the details before you sign the contract. It can be difficult and expensive to cancel a venue once booked. Get advice Recommendations are a great tool for finding a suitable venue. A list of venue suggestions in the vicinity of UCL in Bloomsbury is enclosed. The Alumni Relations team can also help with venue suggestions more widely in London or across the world. BOOKING ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 10 17/12/ :01

13 Questions you should ask Is there a minimum fee? Some venues will charge for all the facilities they offer, even if you don t want to use them What is included? Ask for a clear cost breakdown. Some venues offer package deals, while others charge separate fees for everything Are there service charges, booking or administration fees? Is insurance included? Is VAT included in the quotation? How much is the deposit and is it refundable? What is the cancellation policy? When is the total due? ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 11 17/12/ :02

14 Choosing your menu Choose a menu that will appeal to all guests, including those of different religions. Remember to select a vegetarian option as well. Organise a tasting if you have time. Dietary requirements If your event includes a meal, ask guests when they book to inform you of any dietary requirements. You can then pass these on to the caterer. Seating plan For a gathering of 20 or more, we recommend that you draw up a seating plan. Room Bookings can provide room layout plans for UCL venues. You might ask guests if they have any seating requirements at the time of booking for the event. Alternatively, try seating people together who studied the same subject at UCL. Remember to check if guests are bringing partners-place cards and seating plans can be passed to the Catering Manager on the day of the event. CATERING ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 12 17/12/ :02

15 Catering at UCL UCL Alumni Relations can put you directly in touch with the UCL Refectory, which offers a range of good-quality catering options for all budgets, from an informal sandwich lunch to a seated four-course dinner. Payment We recommend you ask your paying guests to send a cheque payable to you at least three weeks before the event. If you hold your reunion at a UCL venue, the UCL Room Bookings and Catering Department will invoice you directly for the room hire and catering costs after the event. You may wish to tell guests that if they cancel their place less than a week before the event, they will not be refunded. 4CATERING ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 13 17/12/ :02

16 Name badges For an alumni reunion of 20 or more guests, it is advisable to provide name badges so guests avoid any awkward moments not recognising people. These can be handed to guests when they arrive and can be as simple as sticky labels. Remember to ask guests to include maiden names, where applicable, when they book for the event. Memorabilia Why not ask your fellow alumni to bring photos of their student days at UCL, or other memorabilia such as student publications? Arrange them on a table at your event and everyone can enjoy the memories. You should remind guests that they are responsible for any memorabilia on display. Maps of UCL For UCL-based events, maps of UCL are available to help guests plan their journey. These can be found online at: Special requirements Check if any of your guests have special access or other requirements. At UCL, parking for disabled guests can be arranged via UCL Security Services :44 (0) Photographs Ensure that photos are taken at your event. These can be ed to your guests afterwards and sent on to the Alumni Relations team to include on the alumni website. The Alumni Relations Team can provide contact details for professional photographers if required. SUCCESS ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 14 17/12/ :02

17 Tours of UCL Enclosed in this pack is a copy of our self-guided tour of the main UCL campus. If you would like more copies for your reunion guests, please let us know. The Study Information Centre, located just inside the gates of UCL, behind the Front Lodge on the right, is also full of information about UCL. If you wish to contact the Study Information Centre directly (they will organise a guided tour for you if the group is large enough) please telephone: +44 (0) Accommodation Alumni with alumni network membership cards can book UCL halls of residence (out of term-time) or take advantage of a special discount rate for alumni at a range of local Bloomsbury hotels. For further details, check: 5 MAKING YOUR EVENT A SUCCESS ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 15 17/12/ :02

18 ReunionPackLandscape_inners.indd 16 17/12/ :02

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