We’ve made a few “interesting” choices with pricing and registration for Coronet of Fools. We’d like to explain what lead us to these decisions, and the impact we think they’ll have.
If you’ve ever been on an event team, you’ll know that there are some decisions you need to make that seem to have no good answer. That’s the nature of trying to serve dozens of different people. So when we’re faced with one of those problems, we think to ourselves: are we asking the right question?
Newgrange Lodge is a fabulous site, and we like it a lot. We can comfortably accept over a hundred attendees, with over 80 sleeping on site, in dorms as well as B&B style rooms. It’s pretty easy to get to by car, ferry and plane. And, of course, it has Newgrange passage tomb right next door.
But, by Drachenwald standards, it’s also a fairly expensive site. If we were to charge a flat rate per person, the cost of the event would probably be around €70+… and while that’s not bad for two nights’ accommodation and meals, it would put the event out of reach of a lot of our friends.
We also ran into a problem when we used this site before, for Summer Coronation 2017. We announced the opening of bookings in advance, because it seems fairer than letting people find out haphazardly. But we ran out of beds within fifteen minutes - and ran out of B&B room beds in under three minutes. Even though we were prepared for this, handling it as a manual process still put a lot of stresses on the team.
So this time around, we made two choices which are a bit unconventional in Drachenwald. The first is around pricing.
In 2017, we set the bunk pricing at €55 for adults, and the B&B room pricing at €79. We chose this after looking at other events, in particular Yule Ball which also has a mix of dorm and B&B room pricing. We focused a lot on that highest amount, fearing that it might put people off the event.
In retrospect, that was the wrong thing to do; not only were they so popular that they booked out in a few minutes, but they were so high quality as rooms that they felt underpriced.
Two years later, the cost of the site has risen substantially. We thought for a while that this might mean we can’t use the site for events - which would be a real pity. But instead, what we’ve decided to do is raise the pricing for B&B rooms to €105. This is still a little cheaper than the cost of an offsite B&B, with just as high quality a room; and we feel it still compares well with other events. And, of course, it includes all meals.
More importantly, though, it allows us to decrease the cost of a bunk in a dorm to €50 (also including all meals.) This was our primary aim - to keep the base cost to attend as low as we could, and in line with other events in Insulae Draconis where bunks are available.
The other change we’re making is to use a ticketing system for booking. This isn’t just about the time spent. The volunteers that make up the SCA do amazing work, but often those volunteers take on substantial amounts of risk.
For example, if a herald doesn’t make it in time for Court, or the kitchen needs extra help in a hurry, we are excellent at making sure this doesn’t disrupt the event. However, if someone makes a clerical error that results in an attendee turning up without a bed reserved for them… that could be a very big problem.
This is a problem that has been solved, over and again, by services like Eventbrite, Brown Paper Tickets, and others. We think it’s right to use one of these services for the majority of bookings, pay the fee for them to do it (about 3%, give or take)… and spend the volunteer time we free up on giving more assistance to those who need it most.
In particular, we think it’s super important that we provide options for people who can’t use the ticket system, for any reason. If you’ve got concerns about your own booking, drop us an email - you don’t need to tell us why - and we’ll make sure that you’re accommodated properly.
And again, it’s really important for us to make this work without raising the base price to get into the event. We’re really happy that we can make the cost of a bunk even cheaper than it was two years ago.
This approach is not going to be suitable for every event. Dun in Mara is running three events in the space of three months, and each are different; Cruinniú isn’t using tickets, and neither Cruinniú nor Chaucer’s Tavern are using tiered pricing for those staying on site. For those sites and those events, we think the trade offs work out pretty well for everyone.
And for Coronet, we’re trying our hand at changing the question. We’re very much looking forward to hearing your answer.