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Orinoco -

Question for past organisers. Can you name one thing that you wish you'd known before organising your event? Is that information easily available now? Was it a question you asked but couldn't get an answer for or something that took you by surprise?

Daniel Simu - - Parent

How many people would turn up. How many people would buy a t-shirt. How much does promotion affect turn up. How will people respond to this years caterer, how many people will buy extra food from them. What will the weather be like.

Our estimates based on other years were quite precisely met.
I was in charge of promotion and thought I made a bigger effort and reached more people/more conventions with higher quality material than in other years, yet this did not seem to improve the turn up. We did sell more t-shirts than other years though, which depends of course a lot on the design.

Orinoco - - Parent

Did you have any particular method to come up with your estimates that perhaps could be applied to other festivals?

Daniel Simu - - Parent

We did know how many people came to the last 4 editions of this festival, with one of them at the same location as ours. From this we created an estimate by our gut feelings. We assumed that there would be an equal amount of extra visitors as there would be pre-regged if we had good weather. I can not remember the exact numbers, but we closed the pre-reg about 2 weeks before the event and we had indeed around as much spontaneous visitors as preregged (though prereg was only for full festival, so possibly some would have preregged if we gave them the option to register for a single day - three days only)

Ah, I just found it again, our stats (only paying visitors, artists & orga make up for another 15 visitors):

170 Complete prereg (Prereg closed 24 days before event)
60 complete (no prereg)
30 2 nights
30 1 night
220 day visits
This and some more data about the NJF can be found here:
In Dutch, but google trans will probably give you the relevant material at the bottom of the page.

I wish we had more information on pre-reg information from previous years: What time did you open, what was the initial amount of registrations and how quickly did this grow and when did you close etc etc..
For this I can recommend people to use, Christoph is working actively on this system which gives you all the statistical data you could wish and makes it easy to share with others.

Orinoco - - Parent

Ooh, I'd be interested in Christoph's system as I'm playing with one myself...

Daniel Simu - - Parent

I believe he originally build it for the EJC in Munich, for which he was in the orga team. I don't remember if Lublin and Toulouse used it as well, but it will very likely be used for Karlsruhe 2015 and has been used for the past Berlin conventions..

The Edge is missing a PM system, I'd rather share addresses & stuff trough pms... but you can probably reach Christoph here: *snip*
He is usually enthusiastic to talk about this kind of stuff :)

Mïark - - Parent

It wasn't used for EJC Lublin or Toulouse as the EJA weren't prepared Christoph 3% of the convention's gross income.
It has some good features, but with an event that changes it's geographical location each year as well as pre-reg discount and how early pre-reg closes and how good the publicity is there are many variables to working out how many people might come.
It is always hard to calculate how many will come to a convention, BJC in Pickering suffered as there was heavy snow two weeks before which put many people off coming.

Orinoco - - Parent

A PM system has been requested & I'm still thinking about it. The contact page already works well as a PM system if you want to send me something :)

Ah yes, I remember xchaos talking about a system that he was writing a while ago, but I can see how a 3% cut which is a pretty reasonable for professional software is a very large slice of the pie to a juggling convention.

emilyw - - Parent

3% of gross income is 15k on a half million turnover even if the convention makes a loss (which they regularly do). From the organiser perspective that spells OUCH.

Little Paul - - Parent

3% of gross income spent on a system which may bring in less than 50% of that income seems a bit ambitious to me.

"3% of the gross pre-reg income" would be a rather different proposition. It's still a hefty chunk of cash though to an event which is targeted at "a little over breakeven"

Mïark - - Parent

I was speaking to someone who went to the French National Convention in Toulouse (which used the Munich system) who told me from the point of view as a customer it seems surprising at first when everything else is done by volunteers, but when compared to buying a concert or theatre ticket where there is (annoyingly) no way round having to pay a booking fee it is just a few euros.

I would think it is almost total income as the system is also used as an on-site till for selling tickets, t-shirts and show tickets. Obviously income from grants/sponsorship/advertising/concessions-fees (or kickbacks) would not be included.

Dee - - Parent

Seriously, the numbers are the big unknown.  I know that Play sells out - so then doesn't sell any tickets on the door.  They then know their budget and can work to it. 

I've had discussions with people who actually avoid preregistering so that they can "help out" by spending slightly more on the door at EJCs [this is when they don't pre-reg just before it shuts down].  I have tried to explain that this adds to the unknowns - in terms of how many showers and toilets are needed [do you have to hire in more?], also it affects how much space is needed for camping (and hence how much fencing is needed).  If you are trying to cover these at the last minute, costs rapidly escalate; but if you over order then you don't have the money to cover the excess cost.

At recent EJCs it has become particularly difficult to predict how many people will arrive without having pre-registered.  Back in the mid 2000s, it used to be about a 50/50 split; with an increased proportion preregistering for "peripheral" events - where you had to preplan your travel rather than driving overnight.  This has changed in recent years without stabilising, making estimation of numbers extremely difficult, even given pre-registration figures.

BJCs are slightly more predictable, but can be affected by timing [how well do school and university holidays sync], adverse weather [especially last year with the snow just before the event] and moving around.

It would be really interesting if, one year, the EJC announced that there were xx number of tickets available for sale and once they were sold that that's it!  The budget could be a lot more realistic.  The first time it would have to be near an actual campsite, so that stragglers could be directed there [i.e. you aren't providing them with showers or camping facilities].

Other things that you would like to get from past organisers:

  • What to do if your site isn't up to scratch when you arrive or if you are given the "run round" by site management.
  • How many live-in vehicles to expect
  • How much space and time to devote to "non juggling" activities
  • Should the traders be in the main hall [they prefer it, but can be a security hassle and also it means that "high" space is unnecessarily occupied - standard room heights would be better used in this way!]
  • What was "more hassle than it was worth"?
  • Who would they work with again and who do they never want to see/hear from again.
  • Any ideas that really paid off
  • How much should you get in writing and at what stage?

I probably would ask them for a detailed version of their income and expediture accounts... for example, what should the stationery budget be like? How much did getting artists to/from the site cost (so that this can be appropriately modified for your site) - were artists onsite or in other accommodation? 

In terms of informal things, it probably would be many of the bullet points (more hassle, not worth it).  One of my tasks for volunteers at #BJC2014 is to count the number of live-in vehicles onsite on Sunday.  Seems a bit daft, but this year we were going by guessimates based on the size of the car park used in Southend.

Little Paul - - Parent

Regarding live-in vehicle numbers, counting them should be a reasonably small job, is it worth doing daily (incase the peak isn't where you think it is) I'd be interested in seeing how the numbers change over time.

As I'll be in amongst them (BOV passed its MOT! Yay!) I'm happy to help out with counting duties :)

Dee - - Parent

You're it. It can count towards your "tea drinker" badge.  That's my favourite superpower badge this year. I'll make a little tally sheet for you to keep a record on.

We are also interested in actual density of tents, so I'll be looking for others to count tents!

I've remembered a question that I'd ask previous organisers.
Who did you comp in? (Free entry).  And why?  Were these full week / weekend  / day entry complementary tickets?

This doesn't have to name names if people are uncomfortable about it.  It could be along the lines of xx circus group was given 2 free tickets for their supervising adults as they were bringing 20 "youths" (so paid entry) to the convention - it was felt that this was a net earner for the convention, so a decision was made by the team to do this.
People were given complementary tickets for doing/providing x y z as it would have cost us a lot more to hire in the equivalent.

A few of these are legacy issues that no-one is really certain why they were getting the form of ticket that they are.  This can create confusion / unrealistic expectations and cause unnecessary hassle for organising teams when they try to change things.

Orinoco - - Parent

I've tried counting tents before, jugglers' inability to camp in nice straight lines & the number of small green Eurohike tents make this really difficult! Plus marking people's tents with a paint as you count them makes people really unhappy.

I have met a guy though who has a rig on his car that extends a camera on a pole some 20ft up in the air to take aerial photographs which he charges quite a bit for. I'm sure the same result could be achieved by sending a small child up a nearby tree/building/telegraph pole/electricity pylon (how sturdy is BOV's roof LP?!) with a photo stitching enabled smartphone. Then counting is just a case of marking dots on the image after the fact.

Mïark - - Parent

I remember one convention where people were required to ask for a tag to put on their tent when they collected their pass with big warning that any un-tagged tents would be removed.
I don't know if anyone went round to check for un-tagged tents, but they knew how many tents they should have on sites based on the numbers of tags given out. You could try something similar for live in vehicles (if you asked for the drivers mobile number (and licence plate no) when you gave the live-in vehicle tag, reg desk would be have a list of who to phone when someone found a live in vehicle blocking a fire route.
Possibly at bigger conventions like BJC the arrival desk might be busy enough without yet another thing to give out.

Little Paul - - Parent

I think Crawley last year were handing out three classes of pass, one for people, one for tents, and one for live in vehicles.

I'm not sure if anyone went round checking them, or even counted them.

Orinoco - - Parent

We had our tents audited in the TWJC camp. Not sure if this was special treatment for us or not.

Davemlaw - - Parent

We issued tent passes to weekend ticket holders at Crawley as camping is only free to them, day visitors can buy a camping pass if required, the reason for this is our somewhat limited camping space, yes they were checked but I don't think they were counted and yes we did find some people camping without a ticket (camping or convention)when queried the reply was " we didn't think anyone would check" sadly this is the reason why we do the checks as if everyone took that attitude we'd not sell any tickets and not be able to put on the event.

BTW 8-10th August ring 01293 553636 for tickets as the Hawths online booking system can't cope!!

Mïark - - Parent

Perhaps someone might have one of those remote control mini quad-copters, we could fly it over the campsite with a small child attached. It would save having to chase them up a pole or if there wasn't a pole close enough to the campsite.

Little Paul - - Parent

Wasn't Mark T building a quad-copter?

Cedric Lackpot - - Parent

Juggling conventions nowadays are crawling with extendible sticks (for the Bungay Entrance Exam trick) and small, high-quality cameras that could easily be gaffer-taped to one end, and triggered by remote control or self-timer.

Little Paul - - Parent

I've made a note to pack my clipboard :)

Orinoco - - Parent

Doesn't seem daft at all.

I vaguely recall one BJC that required live in vehicles to preregister (Cardiff 2001?) or am I making that up? Doing this would obviously help with planning a site layout.


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