A Dis Meet Planning Report
Okay, I have never put together a Dis Meet and I thought I would have you come along with me as I try to do this. We enjoy reading Disney Trip Reports, so I thought this would be something new to try.
Before I begin, please note that I am very excited to be part of this Dis Meet. I am not complaining or upset that I am a part of it. So please don't take any offense to this, if I tend to vent.
BACK STORY: I am not really sure how I got myself into this. I was reading a thread on a Dis Meet, either Texas or Indianapolis and I noticed this post from Cherinva. She posted something about trying to get a meet started in Virginia, but it has yet to happen. I remember about a year ago, some Disers were trying to have one in Williamsburg, but it never happened. So anyway, I private messaged Cheri about having one in Richmond. Next thing I remember I am actually looking for locations. Cheri, did I actually agree to do this...:lmao:? Anyhoo, what the heck, I enjoy parties and besides Richmond is the capital of Virginia, how hard can it be to find a location?
Okay, I had to get that out of my system. Believe me it is harder than I thought.
Oh darn, I will have to share those stories with you later, I am off to check out location number 5 or was it 6, maybe 7. I don't know, I have lost count.
Okay, so where was I. Oh yeah, location finding in Richmond. Cheri (Cherinva) and I teamed up to host the Virginia Dis Meet. I was to look for locations in Richmond and Cheri was to look for locations in the Virginia Beach/Williamsburg area.
So I sat at my computer ready to look things up and my brain just froze. I had no idea where to begin or how to even start looking for places. My 20th high school reunion was happening in a month, so I contacted that party planner. She would have connections because she is a party planner, right.:confused3
Well you would think that. But actually she has you look for a location and then she calls that place and then you plan from there. What kind of party planner is this person? I thought party planners had a Rolodex just sitting on their desk waiting to be turned to at a moment's notice. Well this particular party planner does not work that way.
So on with the story. She basically wanted me to give her a location and then a budget and then we could go from there. She provides decorations, invites, gift bags, etc. Sounded pretty good to me, until she asked for the budget. Now I just froze. How do you explain to someone that you really do not have a budget and you were trying to put something together as cheap as possible because the goal was to raise money for a worthy cause.
Yeah, there was silence on the other end for a couple of seconds.
Basically the party planner route was NOT the way to go and I had to find a location myself. Google here I come.
So I Googled rental places for the Richmond area and it was not helpful. A lot of the places were in not so nice areas of Richmond. And I was putting the Disers safety first before a cheap location.
By this time Cheri had found a Chinese Buffet that looked promising. But after some discussion we decided that some Disers may not like Chinese and it may not be such a great idea.
I was becoming "desperate" and my husband let me know that his company had a huge room that we might be able to use for free. Well, sign me up. Aaron received permission from the correct people and I went to check the place out. It was perfect. It had tables, chairs, restrooms, and a separate kitchen space. My only concern was some of the computer equipment.
A couple of days later the company gave me permission with one condition. If any of the expensive computer equipment was broken Aaron and I would be held responsible for the cost, which started in the thousands of dollars. Well, okay, we would be held responsible, where do I sign. Then the room coordinator let me know that only 30 people could be in the room due to fire code.
Great, how do I invite people to a Dis Meet but only 30 people could attend. Of course in the back of my mind, I kept thinking there would be no way we would have 30 people.
Just so you know our thread for anyone interested in a Dis Meet had been up for almost 3 weeks and we were up to 28 attendees. So good-bye room and onto the next location.
Melissa..I'm loving this report so far !!! Oh, and YES..you did agree to do this.....:rotfl:...actually, it didn't take much arm twisting for either of us...it just kinda happened...you know us DISers...we get an idea and run with it !!
I'm really excited about this..it's going to be great !!!
Since my husband's company was not going to work out, I needed a new place. Aaron's co-worker suggested Dogwood Dell. They have sheltered areas that can be rented.
Of course, why didn't I think of Dogwood Dell. It is only one of Richmond's nicest parks. They have an amazing 4th of July events and the fireworks are great. And if you are going to have a meet in Richmond why not at a Richmond landmark. Geez, where was my thinking.
I was a little worried that a park might be too cold in November, but knowing Richmond weather, we could all be wearing shorts. So I called the nice park coordinator lady to inquire about using this beautiful park. I was so excited.
Yeah, well that excitement didn't last very long. Since our meet was a private one the cost was more expensive than a public one. I would have had to pay for a least 4 park employees to help and monitor our meet, plus pay for a security guard. The meet could only be for 4 hours and I had to pay extra if I wanted to come in an hour early to set up. Oh and if I wanted tables and chairs I had to pay even more. I thanked the park coordinator for her assistance and hung up the phone.
What was I going to do now??
Since I was looking at a park for our meet, I checked out Chesterfield County's parks. Since I live in Chesterfield and pay for the use of the parks, I should be able to actually use them for an event. The price was actually reasonable but again I was nervous about the weather. Richmond weather in November is either warm, comfortable or freezing. And with my luck, on this day, we would have a snowstorm followed by a hurricane.
So my day was ending and I had ruled out parks. Cheri had agreed about the weather and maybe it wasn't such a good idea.
Onto the next idea.....that is if I had one.
As I'm going to school to be a wedding/event planning, your party planner is right with asking for a budget and location. Normally we charge for "researching" or only give one location. It's a way to make sure we get customers without giving free advice.
With that said, as I'm not in your area, have you checked local hotels/conference centers. Like the Renaissance Conference Center. They can usually hold up to 400 people.
Or in Mass we have whats called "American Legions" (not sure where else they are) but they usually run about $150, some are nicer than others and if for a non profit event, will allow you to rent it on a non busy day for like $25. They're like "Elks Clubs", they're just little halls that don't provide food. We can usually rent it from 11-5 for the 150.
I'm pretty excited about this also. I helped host a very small Limey meet in Richmond. We were able to use the hotel we stayed at.
Also some churches, YMCA's, Elk clubs, Shriners & Scottish rites places rent their buildings. Depends on what you might be serving!
thanks for what ya'll are doing!
I was becoming a little discouraged. How do all these other Disers put a Dis Meet together. Oh why isn't there a Dis Meet hotline number I could call. Then it dawned on me, why not ask those who actually put together a Dis Meet? Duh.
So I emailed Nikki (Nikkibell) with all kinds of questions. And she was so nice and helpful in answering my questions. I think Cheri also emailed Nikki because now we were looking at restaurants and malls.
Cheri checked out a Golden Corral in the Mechanicsville area and I checked out some malls. The Golden Corral manager told Cheri we could "rent" a spot for 2 hours and then pay the gratuity fee based on how the check was paid. Sounded pretty good. We would have to ask each Disers to pay a $5 fee to cover the cost. But would we have enough room to do anything??
There are about 3 malls in the Richmond area that might work. I ruled out Chesterfield Town Center because the way the Food Court is set up there would be no "privacy" to have an auction or to actually have any activities. Stony Point Fashion Park has no Food Court to speak of. But there was a Panera Bread Community Room. A $50 fee and the room was mine for a few hours. Yay, I found a place. No, wait, it was was too small. Darn it.
So next was the Short Pump Town Center. Now this looked promising. The food court was divided into sections. Awesome our group could just stay in one section. Our auction table and souvenir table could be in a corner. The Food Court provided the food. It seemed perfect. So I trekked down to the Customer Service desk and inquired about a large group using a section. She kindly handed me a Marketing Manager's card and told me to email her because this way beyond the knowledge of the Customer Service lady.
I returned home and sent an email. So, maybe we have a space. Fingers crossed.
I am enjoying your tales so far! :thumbsup2
I know you already emailed NikkiBell, but I thought I would share our experience out here in public so other DISers might benefit.
In our recent NJ meet, I contacted Perkins Pancake House for our meet. Pal_Mickey remembered that Perkins was a partner with Give Kids the World. They help raise money for them, and even have a special day each year where all their proceeds go to GKTW. So we thought (correctly so!) that they might enjoy having us hold a fundraiser in their restaurant.
I looked at their locations on their website and found one that was in the area we were looking for. On the boards- we agreed this was a good location. I called the restaurant and asked for the manager. The general manager needed to make the final decision, but he was happy to have us since we were raising money for GKTW. He waived their usually fee and minimum food order requirements. And I promised everyone would eat while we were there. At their request, we also agreed that they would add an automatic 18% gratuity to eveyone's bill (we go to Disney- we're all used to that!!).
This particular Perkins had 2 small-ish private rooms. One held 25 people and the other held 40 people. We reserved both rooms- not having any idea how many people would come. And we did this totally sight unseen since no one lived near this location!! I had my fingers crossed that the rooms would work out for us. I was relieved and thrilled when we arrived on meet day. The rooms were perfect. And they closed off from the restaurant itself- so we didn't disturb their customers.
Since we did have a limit on the number of people due to the room sizes, but we kept the sign-ups open and it worked out well. We did realize we might have to close the event if we reached our capacity. It ended up we were right at the max- but we all fit.
At the end of our event, one of the people at our meet offered a fire house she can get for free for a future meet. You never know who has connections and who can make arrangements for you. So keep it public and see who steps up.
I know you guys will find a place and have a great meet! :cool1:
While I was waiting for the Short Pump Marketing lady to return my email, I sat at the computer and said to myself, "today I will find a location". I had this image of Annette Bening in the movie "American Beauty", when she is saying to herself, "I will sell this house today" as she cleaned it. :lmao:
I will find a location today.
I decided to look on the Dis Boards and see where other Dis Meets were having their meets. The Indianapolis location sounded good. Why doesn't Richmond have something like this. Wait, Richmond does. It is called the Richmond International Raceway Complex and they have these type of "rooms". So I called. The smallest place I could rent could hold 1,000 people. Gee, what are the odds I would get 1,000 Virginians to come to a meet? That would be awesome but unrealistic. So I thought we could hold our on race (walking or running) in this place and take pledges. Shoot we could have had our own baseball game in the room. As much as I would love to have this room, the expense was way too much. I actually told the person on the phone at RIR that they should have smaller rooms to rent. I don't think he liked my idea. Oh well.
I then realized that my 20th high school reunion would be held at the Richmond Convention Center. AWESOME. This place is huge and had rooms in all sort of sizes. So I checked out their website. Really, the starting price for a small room that held 100 was $1,200. No wonder my reunion fee was so high. And they didn't even include tables or chairs. Those were extra. I wonder if people would come to a meet and just stand. I mean they did just drive (and for some a few hours) and most sit during the week at work. So standing could be something different. Maybe. Yeah, I don't think I could get away with not having chairs.
The hours passed and by this time I was actually looking at my own house. I could fit 30 people in here with no problem Except again not enough seating and I only have one bathroom downstairs. But who needs to use the bathroom or sit, right. Yeah, I know, not a good idea.
So the day ended and I finally heard from the Short Pump Town Center Marketing Coordinator.
Hey!!! you left us hanging!! It's not like you have a life, eh?!:hug:
I hope to continue with the story either today or tomorrow.
My first email from the Short Pump Town Center Coordinator (SPTCC) was simple. She asked who we were, why we wanted to use the Food Court and how we were going to use the Food Court. I explained that we were Disney fans wanting to get together for lunch and to meet one another and to raise money for GKTW. I even explained to her all about GKTW.
24 hours later I received a reply from the SPTCC that she would need to discuss our event with the Security Officer. Since money was involved and we were in a public place, she didn't want any type of incident to occur. She was also worried that we would be bothering other customers by trying to solicit from them. I replied that I completely understood and clarified that we were not going to be announcing that we were collecting money and in fact we were going to be very quiet about it and that our group would not be soliciting from anyone outside our group.
48 hours later I received a reply. By this time I was getting a feeling that our group was not going to be welcomed in this Food Court. This email was about concerns. The SPTCC was concerned that our group would be loud. That our group would only purchase food from one, out of the seven, food vendors. That our group would be bothering other customers with solicitation. I replied that, again, yes our group may be a little noisy, (By this time there 38 people interested in a Virginia Dis Meet) but we weren't going to be running around the Food Court screaming and hooting and hollering. Again, I explained that we weren't going to be soliciting from outside our group and bother other customers. And I did tell her that with a possible 40 plus people I am sure that not all of our group would only eat at one of the vendors.
By this time, I was looking for a new location.
48 hours later I received a response. As the coordinator of this event, I would have to sign and agree to a Licensing Agreement and provide a Certificate Of Insurance. I replied to this email with what in a Licensing Agreement and a Certificate Of Insurance and requested a face to face meeting with her to go over these documents.
Day 1 passes.
Day 2 passes.
Day 3 passes.
Day 4 passes.
Day 5. At the end of the workday I received what would be my final email to from her. I, as coordinator, would have to provide a Certificate of Insurance for $2,000,000.00 (yes that is two million dollars). My company would have to either add the Short Pump Town Center to their policy or take a new policy out. WHAT :scared1:??? Yes, I had to reread this email a couple of times just to make sure I read that correctly. I even had to have Aaron look at it. So what does she think we are going to do, throw the chairs out the windows? Steal a table?
I took a deep breathe and decided this location was not worth our time or hassle. The Town Center would just lose 40 plus person patronage. I let Cheri know and tomorrow I would start looking again. Sigh.
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