Over the years, friends and family often become more and more spread out geographically. It’s a reason we schedule events specifically to bring them together. That means some may be travelling considerable distances to attend major events such as weddings and family reunions. Hosts should keep in mind a variety of issues faced by these guests and attempt to mitigate them as much as possible.
Understand Not Everyone Can Attend
No one gets everyone on their invite list to attend, but expect to get many more declines if guests have to travel more than a couple hours.
Oftentimes, these people have to use vacation days to travel. To that end, Saturday is the best day for events. That allows long distance travelers to travel Friday and Sunday, missing only one day of work. If the event is in the evening, and people are close enough to drive, Saturday allows people to travel Saturday afternoon and Sunday, forgoing the need of vacation days altogether.
Still, even with that consideration, understand that some people simply cannot invest the time or money needed to participate. Make sure the most important people, such as the parents of a wedding couple, are comfortable with travel arrangements very early in the planning stages.
Give Lots of Warning
Save the date cards are particularly useful when travel is an obstacle. Letting people know many months ahead of time when the event will be allows them to make whatever plans are necessary (airline tickets, vacation days, pet-sitters, etc.) to allow them to attend.
Provide Local Information
Your guests are visiting a strange location. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate it. Suggest hotels and restaurants. Provide information on local attractions they can visit on their own time, as some may turn the trip into a vacation. And have selections appeal to a wide variety of people. Not everyone wants to visit a museum nor eat at the best Mexican restaurant in town. Remember, you’re suggesting things that might appeal to them, not you.
Also share local weather information. It would be unfortunate in April for Florida family to show up wearing shorts in Denver.
Never underestimate the power of maps and directions. While it is true most people have smartphones, not everyone does, particularly the elderly. Mapping programs can also be problematic when drivers hit unexpected detours which the application doesn’t recognize.
Also, consider traffic conditions, particularly construction. If there’s major work being done, guests should know how much extra time to plan for it and how to best get around it.
Finally, make sure you give addresses for every location, no matter how obvious you think the landmark or how many people you think have been there before. There’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to navigation.
Provide a Point of Contact
Provide an emergency number for people who hit a major snag: they missed their flight, they’re hopelessly lost, etc. This person needs to be available to answer questions and perhaps even take action, so if this is a wedding, don’t make it the bride or groom, and probably not their parents either. It can be a great job for bridesmaids or groomsmen.
More and more, people have to travel to participate in events such as weddings and reunions. Just because it’s getting more common, however, does not mean it should be taken for granted. Such trips cost time and money, and it leaves guests in a strange location. Provide as much information as you can to assist their travel, including addresses, directions, traffic concerns, and local recommendations. All of these steps will help allow everyone to enjoy the event to its fullest extent.