The NEON group started a blog with different members writing about different aspects of organizing a gaming event. We published on The Grand Alliance forum with a series of short articles featuring “how to” tips for planning and running an event, covering things like making sure you have enough terrain to getting your players registered. We wanted to keep topics generalized and not just specifically for the Coalescence global narrative event, and we wanted to provide some help for new organizers that may have never run an event before.
In this series we will revisit some of those topics and consolidate the tips as a resource for new and experienced event organizers to plan better events. And these aren’t just for narrative events! Many of these topics are relevant to almost any tabletop gaming event.
One important step to planning an event is setting up player registration so you can plan for the size of your crowd and make sure you don’t have too many players show up the day of the games but without enough tables to accommodate everyone.
HOW TO MANAGE REGISTRATION
Registration for a small event may seem to be more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re only expecting a few of your usual gaming friends to attend then why bother with formal registration? For an event like Coalescence, or any independent event with online promotion, it’s possible some players beyond your gaming group may decide to drive an hour or more to attend. And without any kind of formal registration you may have many more players than you expected.
More players than you had planned for might sound like a good problem to have, but it can lead to problems like not having enough tables, frustrating players with a feeling of disorganization, or, even worse, violating fire code for exceeding the capacity of a venue.
The best way to plan for attendance is with registration. You can manage registration by keeping a simple list of players. It doesn’t matter if they email you, private message, call you on the phone or tell you in person—if a player indicates an intention to attend then add the name to your list and reply directly with a confirmation of registration.
But for players beyond your group that might read about your event online, like on TGA, provide a clear means for them to register for your event.
Consider creating an email account for your club or event. Creating an event on Facebook, for example, might attract some players that click and indicate they are “interested” or “attending” but may not follow through, so having players register by emailing or using an electronic RSVP is more reliable. Use your club or event name in the email address, and then be sure to post on all future promotion (and on FB event pages) that players should email their registration to that email address. Specify if you want them to include an army list with their registration or if just submitting a name is enough.
Using a dedicated email account keeps all the registered players in one place and won’t lead to the possibility of registration emails getting lost among all the other email messages in your normal inbox. This will make creating and maintaining your list of registered players easier, and it will also be easier to reply to them.
The benefits of registering players before the event is it helps you keep track of how many players you can expect to attend, so you can plan for how many tables you will need along with terrain. Also, having even a basic registration system provides a sense of professionalism to your event. A player is more likely to drive 100 miles to your event, for example, if that player is confident there is a reserved space; there are few things worse for a player to be told, “Sure, just show up, there will be plenty of room,” and then arriving after a significant drive and a few minutes late to find the event at capacity already and no opportunity to play.
Also, registered players should have priority to play over players that show up at the start of an event. Make sure you accommodate registered players first.
Using registration also makes it easier to communicate with your players about any changes. If something happens an you need to change the venue or start time for some unforeseen emergency (store closing unexpectedly, for example), then you can use your registered player email list to make sure everyone is aware of the changes. Communication is important, and if you keep players connected up to the time of your event then they will feel more confident about attending future events and you will help strengthen your gaming community.
If you reach your attendance limit with registered players then let people know there is a waiting list. Some players may drop out, and with registration they are likely to let you know they can’t make it and allow you to contact players on the wait list that places have opened up to allow them to attend.
Main points for how to manage registration:
- Start a list of registered players. Set up an email account or folder to track players that indicate they plan to attend your event.
- Be clear in all your promotion about how players can register. Include the email or preferred method for how they can register. Also mention if they should send a copy of an army list to you before the event.
- Respond! Players want to know that you are expecting them. Sending out a friendly reminder a few days before the event can be helpful and appreciated.
- Watch your attendance limit! Keep a waiting list if more players try to register.
Remember, registration is a great way of keeping players informed and excited about your event. It will also help you avoid any headaches involving too many players showing up!