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Family Reunion Cruise

sign-1241257-639x426Tired of hosting the same ol’ typical picnic style family reunion every year?  Do you ever wonder why there are a decrease in your attendance every year?  It may be time to make a change to make your reunion little more “exciting”!  Go on a Family reunion cruise!  Don’t worry,  organizing a family reunion cruise is quite easy and has some amazing benefits.

Benefits of a family reunion cruise

Family reunion cruises combines a vacation with family reunion.  Since family reunions are conducted on weekends, 3 – 4 night cruises will be the type of cruises you want to look for.  But hey, if your family has the luxury if vacationing for an entire week, go for a 7-8 night cruise.  But lets just stick with the 3 – 4 night cruises for now.  These cruises cost half as much as the 7+ night cruises.  Weekend cruises ports at multiple islands, so in reality, its like going on a multi-vacation.  On-board these Cruises,  there are multiple activities for all age groups, so there is no need for planning your own activities on a cruise as you would for a typical family reunion.  With unlimited dining, you don’t have to worry about buying and cooking hundreds of dollars worth of food.  Most importantly, not only do you get the satisfaction of enjoying the company of reuniting with your family members, but you can do this while will enjoying a relaxing vacation.

Using Autoresponse Text Apps

Autoresponder texts apps allows you to create all of your text messages at once, and sent them out at a designated date and time.  Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to use these apps for free.  Those unlucky individuals are those who own an Iphone.  Iphone generally does not like to grant permission to second party apps to send out autoresponder texts from their phones.  However, there are some apps that sends autoreponder text, but you will need to purchase credits in the app.  I don’t know their names specifically, since I converted to galaxy 3 years ago, so I suggest you search in the app store for the cheapest and most effective apps.  There is also another app that sends text messages using your email called “Textpressit”.  Honestly, I don’t know if it’s still available on the app store, but the last thing I heard about this app was that it now cost $2.99.  I used it years ago, and the only bad thing about it is that the text messages are sent via your email.

Andriod phones have over a dozen of these autoresponder apps.  Many of them are free, and others are dirt cheap.  The app I use is called “Send it later”.  It has worked 100% of the time for me, and is very easy to use.  There is no limit to the amount of contacts you can include in a group text.  In fact, when you send a group text from “Send it Later”, it actually sends the text to everyone individually!  So you don’t need to worry about annoying group responses being sent to everyone in the group.  Best of all…..IT’S 100% FREE!  Try it for yourself:

Send It Later App

Send It Later App

What you need to Organize a family reunion cruise

It is best to have more than one person organizing this.  I suggest you put together a committee of 3 or more people (make sure its odd number of members), so that you can vote on the cruise.  Start by researching the cruise that best fits your family’s time frame, and the cruises with the best prices.  Each member should be assigned a specific task such as sending emails, sending texts, making phone calls, advertise to family members, communicating with the travel agency, and sending reminders for payments.  I suggest communicating via group text (will go over automated text services later on) and/or using an autorepsonder if you choose to communicate with your family via email.  Lets face it, there are things going on in your life that prevents you from thinking about this cruise 24/7, which may cost you to forget sending those important emails and texts from time to time.  Also, if you have a big family, it will be time consuming calling each person for reminders.  When it comes to letting your family know about required documentations and things that you can and can not bring on the cruise, unless there have a pen and paper in hand, I doubt they will remember everything you tell them.  It will be easier for everyone if those information was sent via text or email.

Using an auto-responder for emailing family members

ID-100142073This is completely optional, but I found the best way to communicate with family members is through autoresponder emails.   Manually sending emails can sometimes be time consuming, and lets not forget the times you may forget to send important emails.  Setting up autoresponders allows you to create all of your emails at one time, and have them sent out on a scheduled date and time.  This will build excitement, and will show them that you’re staying on top of your communications with everyone.  It’s very important to get your people excited about the cruise, so I suggest using a couple of autoresponders that has some attractive email templates, easy to use, and free!

Vertical response

What I like about vertical response is that they have a free service. The free service allows you to add up to 1000 contacts, and you can send up to 4000 emails per month. Another cool feature is the ability to design optin forms without owning a website.  Why would you need an optin form?  This form will add people to your autoresponder mailing list.  You can easily send the optin form link via text, emails, and social media.  The opt in form can be hosted on Vertical response itself.  If you have a website, you can embedded the code on your page (but no need to get too technical with this though, it will just be easier if you let vertical response host your forms).  Setting up a optin form is very easy, just follow the steps laid out on vertical response.  They also allow you to create easy drag-and-drop emails.  When your finished with each email, just schedule a time and date you want your emails to be sent out, and vuola!  Your done!  Click on the image below to get started with Vertial Response.top-email-marketing-service-vertical-response-logo

Email Marketing app

unnamedIf you have an Android phone, you should get the “Email Marketing” app. There is a free version, and a pro version which will cost $14.95. There is no monthly fees for either one. The free version only allows you to send emails to 10 people, while the pro version allows you to send emails to unlimited amounts of people. I have to warn you, this app is not very user friendly, so there will be a learning curve. If you not too technical savy, I would suggest you stick with vertical response. The best thing about the Email Marketing app is the accessibility. You can set up auto-responder campaigns straight from your phone instead of using only a computer or tablet to setup your autoresponses.

What emails to send

When you book a group cruise, there will be multiple payment due dates. There will be a first deposit, second deposit, and final payment. It is best to create email campaigns that will send out reminder emails a couple of weeks before a payment is due. I suggest sending 2 reminders for each payment. Send out the first reminder a month before the payment is due, then a second reminder 2 weeks before the payment is due. In between those times, you would want to get your family excited about the cruise. Send them YouTube links of ship tours of the boat your going on. You should also send them information about the different islands/countries your cruise will be stopping at (best beaches, famous landmarks, best bars & restaurants, etc.) You can find all of these information online. The most important email you will need to send, which I suggest sending after the first deposit due date has passed, will be information about the legal documentations need for the cruise. Make sure to check with your cruise agency and/or the cruise company for those information. The last email you should send is things you can and can’t bring on a cruise. I wrote an article about this, so you can include this link in your email. You can also find more articles online.

Departure day

sapphire-princess-in-sydney-1-1518740-639x424If you have a large family that lives in different parts of the country, or internationally, most likely they will be arriving from different destination at different times.  As coordinators, it’s best to gather everyone’s arrival details and transportation schedules.  The best meeting spot in my opinion is at the port itself.  Having an attendance list with phone numbers makes it easy to stay in contact with family members who may be having trouble getting to the port, and those who lose track of time.  You want to make sure they make it onboard before departure.  There are no refunds if you do not make it onboard by the departure time, and they will not hold up the ship for you.

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