Aug 4, 2016

Here's How These Stores Start Events on Time

How to take the headache out of tardy players and late registrations, according to 3 Advanced Plus WPN members.

Aug 4, 2016

Here's How These Stores Start Events on Time

How to take the headache out of tardy players and late registrations, according to 3 Advanced Plus WPN members.

Every organizer knows that starting events on time can be a headache—and how important it is to players: on any list of what players value in a game store, "punctual start times" is always near the top.

But between tardy players, last-minute registrations, and unavoidable delays, how can you pull it off? How firm should you be about the registration deadline?

How can you get players to register in advance? Should late players get a bye or a loss?

There are a lot of tough questions. Here are some answers from a few organizers who have it down:

How Can you Prevent Last-Minute Registrations?

We post two times. Example: Registration: 9:00–9:45, start 10:00. This seems to work! —Shannon Homan, Xtreme Games

Consensus among organizers is that you should leave a gap between the registration deadline and the start of round one. When you advertise your event, you should be clear on all of those times.

In this example, Shannon uses the fifteen-minute gap after 9:45 to finish enrolling players into Wizards Event Reporter, then print the pairings.

But what about players that show up at 9:46?

How Firm Should the Registration Deadline Be?

Once pairings go up, you won't be added without a round one loss. —Josh Silvestri, ChannelFireball Game Center

Most organizers choose a cutoff point—be it the announced deadline, or when pairings go up, or once players are seated—then stick to it.

For Josh, being firm has panned out. Naturally, this will mean turning away the occasional player, and that's a sensitive, risky situation. But so far, the damage has been minimal.

"We've had hard cutoff times on competitive [REL] events for multiple years and hard cutoff on regular [REL events] for nearly eighteen months now. The only people we lost long-term were people who literally couldn't get to the store at X time and a few chronically late people."

But there's no "one way" to handle it. Different deadlines work for different formats; different communities have different preferences.

Some organizers consider the deadline a sacred thing. Others err on the side of inclusion, and still more will delay the event a few minutes if players call ahead. Each of these options may be viable for your community.

The silver bullet is preregistration.

How Can You Encourage Preregistration?

We have now gone for 'register and pay by [time] and we'll preregister your pool for you.' This adds value and customer service above and beyond. —Laura Wiggins, Geek Retreat

Laura goes the positive reinforcement route, adding value for players that preregister.

This particular example—registering a player's Sealed pool for them if they preregister for a PPTQ—might be a bit resource intensive for a lot of stores. But there are a million other services you could try.

The idea is to reward the behavior you want to see (preregistering) rather than punishing the behavior you don't (being late).

Simple tactics like these can drastically improve the punctuality of your events and the overall player experience.

Try them out!

By Matt Neubert

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