OK, I think I know how I’m going to approach this. It just so happens that I’m in the early planning stages of an event myself, one surrounding May Day. So what I’m going to try and do is take you along with me through the steps and hopefully provide some insight into event planning.
Remember in elementary school, talking about the 5 W’s? What, Who, When, Where, Why, and the added 6th one How (the w’s just at the end of that one).
The first thing of course is to decide what you want to do. We just recently had a Spring Festival in my home sim, a medieval village, and it was such a success that what I would love to do is to have that kind of fun and turnout a second time. We can once again have live entertainment, shopping, and touring the sim as part of our festival.
Next, let’s think about when. A little research shows that medieval folk liked having festivals for certain occasions throughout the year, and the next big one on our calendar just happens to be May Day. It’s a good choice; it’s a very festive occasion that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people, and it even falls right near a weekend!
When picking a date for your Big Event, consider time zones and availability of other people. You may be in Europe and choose to have your event at a reasonable hour for you; but if nobody else in the sim is in Europe you may be hard-pressed to get people to show up. Have a look at time zone differences and see if you can figure something that works for everyone. If it’s 12 Noon SLT (Pacific Time), add on 3 hours to get East Coast time (3 PM), 8 hours for UK time (8 PM), 10 hours for western Russia, and 18 hours for Sydney (6 AM). Or, try using a map of time zones to help you out. In addition to time zones, consider the day of the week. Friday and Saturday nights in the U.S. are going to see a LOT of people going to a LOT of different events. While it’s true a lot of users may be on at those times, those users are going to be divided up among events at clubs and nightspots the Grid over. Now I don’t have any numbers to back me up, but based just on what I’ve observed, the busiest days for Second Life are Saturdays. Myself, I think it would be wisest to schedule my May Day event on either Friday the 1st or Saturday the 2nd. For either day, earlier would be better than later. On Friday, you want to get the people playing SL at work before they go home. On Saturday, you want to get people before they go to their nightspots.
Finally, in considering the “when” of your event, you must be mindful of scheduling conflicts. I have an acquaintance who also wants to have a May Day event in his home sim. So we agreed that we will schedule them on different days; if he takes Friday, I’ll get Saturday, or vice versa. This way, his people will also come to my event, and my people will also go to his.
Where to have the event? This one, for me, is easy. We have a mostly empty parcel that’s been used as a fairgrounds for 2 events now; there’s no reason to not use it this time as well. If someone buys up the parcel before then, the tavern/docks area may be a good secondary location. Which brings me once again to something that bears frequent repeating:
Always always always have a Plan B.
I have several reasons for the “why”: I want to get people to come to the village, see the beautiful things it has to offer, maybe consider sticking around, and while they’re here enjoy great live entertainment. I want to get our locals off our collective duffs, out of our skyboxes, and into something we can do as a community. That way we can get to know each other and see what we like to do and what we’re good at doing. So, in a nutshell, that’s what I want to accomplish.
How are we gonna do it? Well, if you want entertainment, you have to get live acts. That will require money to pay them, a place to play, and a way to set the stream on the fairegrounds parcel. A little word of advice from both an event planner and an entertainer: Pay the performer(s) as soon as you can, and don’t cheap out. Remember that these people put a lot of time, effort, and energy into what they do. To find some good live entertainment, check out SL-livemusic.com or SL Live Radio for starters. Or ask your friends who they’ve caught live and just love. Go and test listen whenever possible.
The thing about performers is that the good ones are in high demand. You’ve got to contact them early on. As soon as you have a date for your event, send them an IM. Don’t waste their time by saying “hello…got a question” and waiting for them to return your IM; get right to what you want. “Hello…I’m running an event on the xth and I was interested in hiring your band to perform for an hour. Please get back to me so we can discuss your rate and work out a time. Thanks.” Feel free to copy that word for word (just make sure you replace the date with a number) and paste it if you want.
Be good to your performers, and they’ll be good to you.
I can’t state that one enough either. If you’re rude, inconsistent, unhelpful, and otherwise take for granted your performers, they won’t be back. And they’ll tell their friends.
The other “how” to talk about is, how are ya going to pay for it? If you’re independently wealthy, well great, we got nothing to worry about. For the REST of us, some fundraising is in order. Start by putting out networked tip jars in your sim, and letting all your friends know about what you have planned. Keep a budget. Write down someplace how much this is all going to cost. I personally keep funds for the festival in the possession of an alt, to keep the money separate from my own personal cash.
Start asking yourself what you’re going to need to make this plan work. Do you need a builder to make a stage? Do you need a graphic designer to make posters? Do you need the OK of the sim owner (that last one is a resounding YES).
I’ll leave this for now, before this becomes way too overwhelming for one blog article. See you next time, and happy planning!