FEB 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 43 Staying Connected & Sharing New Experiences How Reunion Groups Can Best Enjoy A Destination By Shannon Rasmussen MARKET SEGMENT: REUNIONS & SOCIAL GROUPS Conventional wisdom says that social media diminishes our need for reunions. John Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau in North Carolina, disputes that notion. He says that, while it may be true that people can keep tabs on their friends and family on social media, the connection simply isn't the same as attending a reunion in person. "Social media doesn't offer the same one- on-one connection that a face-to-face meeting does," he said. "Social media is a good way to stay in touch but there will always be a need for sharing stories. Connecting with people is the core of reunions." Connecting with the host destination is also critical to making sure that reunion attendees get the most out of their experience, according to convention and visitors bureau professionals. Tap Into Local Attractions Fayetteville is home to Fort Bragg, one of the military's largest installations, and Pope Army Airfield. The area is host to numerous reunions every year, from military reunions to family reunions and everything in between. Meroski said Fayetteville is a prime reunion location for military and civilian groups alike because of the tremendous amount of history in the area, as well as the number of attractions. "Visiting our area is like a factory tour of democracy," Meroski said. "The men and women here defend our Constitution. People who host reunions here leave with a greater sense of appreciation for our freedom and with a greater sense of purpose." Reunions that meet in Fayetteville have the option to visit the military installations, eat a meal with soldiers, watch a parachute drop or participate in a retreat ceremony at the instal- lation flag pole. The area is also host to golf, museums, shopping and ziplining, as well ► Participants of reunions held in Natchitoches, La. often take part in local activities such as music festivals.

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