2002-05-02: More Event Tips from Sannio

More Event Tips from Sannio

May 2 2002 4:56PM

This was originally posted to Online Community Relations at[1]

The idea stage of even creation.
Collecting resources and organizing your helpers.
Running the event itself.
Post-event follow-up—this article.

And so your event’s over. The audience has dispersed, and your participants have begun splitting off into small groups to share their “war stories.” It’s time to kick off your sandals and relax.

…Well, not just yet.

Immediately after the event is actually a great time to promote your next event. Those people lingering around after today’s event? It’s a pretty good bet they’ll like your next event as much or more than today’s. Take the opportunity, especially if your house was the location of the event, to invite whoever lingers to stick around for just a bit longer.

Talk about your next event. Mention the time and day, especially if the event isn’t reoccurring on the same day every week or month. If today’s event was a quest, consider dropping hints for next week’s storyline. If you just finished running a contest, auction, or tournament, talk about what the prizes or big ticket items will be next time.

Don’t bash the competition

This may seem like a small thing, but it’s always classy and admirable to not talk down about other events and event staff. It’s much better to recognize the strengths of the competition instead of their flaws, but if you really don’t have anything nice to say about them try not to say anything at all.

Give away leftovers

You might even have prepared some food & drink to share with everyone at this time. If you have any promotional gifts remaining, consider giving one or two away for free to some of these devoted stragglers—they’ll be more inclined to show up for your next event, thanks to your kindness. If your event will reoccur in the same place with any frequency, one of the best things you can do is to give away runestones that are pre-marked with your event location.

Fish for a critique

One of the best ways to learn how to improve from your successes and mistakes is by simply asking the people who were involved, be they staff, participants, or even audience. While chatting with those who stuck around, find out what worked well with your event and what maybe weren’t such good ideas.

When you’re asking questions, try not to ask ones like “Did you like the event?” You want “essay” responses, not “yes” or “no.” If you instead ask questions like “What did you think of the villain?” or “How do you think we could have made the tournament progress faster?” you might get better, more helpful answers.

Don’t feel insulted if someone talks about what they didn’t like or even complains. These people could end up giving you some of the most important tips on how to improve your event, so try to grin & bear it, take good notes, and try to interpret what they were complaining about as productive suggestions.

Reward your helpers

They may not have asked for any special compensation, but doing something special for your helpers is always a nice gesture, nonetheless.

Rewards don’t necessarily have to be gold or gifts. The simplest and, perhaps, most important reward is praise, and you should dole that out with heaping tablespoons. Even if you think you might not have needed as many helpers as you had, always keep in mind that you shouldn’t take for granted any time and resources your assistants were able to give.

You can also consider throwing a little staff-only shindig, something to help your assistants maintain close relationships that can serve double-duty by also introducing any new helpers or new rules/guidelines.

If your event staff is large enough, you might think about “promoting” one or more of them. If you have ten people helping you, for example, consider asking one of them to be your second-in-command; and if they accept, announce this change at a staff gathering and at the start of each of the next few events.

Keep an eye out for new helpers

Some of the stragglers may be receptive to helping out with future events. You may find that one or two would enjoy being recruited to help with whatever you have planned for next time.

Maybe these potential assistants are looking to help with something small like marking runestones or scribing books, or if they’ve been a part of something like this before maybe they could role-play a part in your plot or help with crowd control. Perhaps they have a house that can host the whole event or part of it, or even the offer of customizing their barkeep’s dialogue can be a valuable asset to your future events.

Write up the post-event news article

When everyone has truly gone from the event scene (or you’ve kicked them out of your house ;) you can write up the post-event article. Sure, others may wait until the next day, but not you! You know how much everyone likes to read about such things right after they happen, and you might have even prepared the article beforehand to speed things up, and just need to fill in the blanks.

Try to name the pivotal characters of the event in such an article, such as the bride & groom of a wedding, the slayer of the arch-villain, the winner of a race, the assassin of the town leader, or the one who ate the most pies. Everyone loves to have their “names in lights.”

Hopefully you, or one of your helpers, were prepared and took a few screenshots during the event. Sort through them to find some particularly dramatic or picturesque images, and include one or two with your article. People like seeing their pictures attached to enjoyable events as much or more than seeing their name attached to them.

As with your initial event announcement article, make sure you include where and when the event happened, as well as all relevant contact information. In addition, don’t forget to mention any details you might already have about your next event.

Do it all again

If you like, it can be exactly the same. If you had 10 people show up for your poetry reading and realized that this is the perfect number, don’t feel compelled to try to grow the event beyond “perfection.” Maybe you’ll let word-of-mouth be your only advertising, and only post notes about your event on your guild message board, and that’s perfectly fine. Your performance, contest, or ceremony doesn’t need to have half the shard in attendance for it to be considered a complete success.

But, it doesn’t have to be exactly the same. You can take the suggestions or critiques/complaints that your participants shared and use them to your advantage. Perhaps you had 300 people show up for your first monthly “field day” sporting contests, but found it a little taxing and almost unmanageable, and there’s nothing wrong with adjusting your plans to inspire 100 or less people to participate next time.

It’s a pretty good bet that you’ll want to make at least some changes, and you’ve probably been taking mental notes during your whole event creation process. You could put those into effect for the next creation cycle, but if things didn’t go the way you would have hoped this time, don’t give up. Maybe you inadvertently invited the wrong audience and need to consider how you’re promoting your event, or the rules & scheduling may have been two vague or confusing and you just need to tweak some wording or timing.

Whatever the audience/participant reaction, your event was important if only because you brought people together and tried your best to entertain them. And they will appreciate it, and you’ll know they do by their actions or their praise.

To be fair, some players will complain or gripe the whole time, but keep an eye on them—most of them may say one thing, but they will stick around and try their best to participate appropriately throughout the whole event . They’ll say things like “this tournament sucks!” or “things are moving too slow!” but they’ll stay with your group to slay every monster, congratulate the newlyweds, or defend the kidnapped princess, and their actions will speak to you much louder than their words.

Other players will be more insightful and recognize all that you’re trying to do, and they’ll appreciate it more openly. You and your helpers may be toasted in front of a crowd of dozens, or someone may e-mail or quietly come up to you after everyone else has gone and share with you some of the greatest words of praise that ever existed: “Thanks for everything. I had fun.”

Keith “Sannio” Quinn Online Community Coordinator Ultima Online Origin Systems