Last edited on January 3rd, 2014 by gnat
Promoting Your Event
Getting the word out about your LAN party well in advance is a critical factor in getting people to attend. Make sure to be well organized before spreading your message.
Setting the tone for your event.
One of the lesser discussed aspects of event promotion is the opportunity to set the tone for your event. People will make or break your party. Attract fun guests? Fun party. Attract douchey, terrified, skanky guests? Douchey, terrified, skanky party.
"Some of the best parties I have attended were no more than 6 people. 6 really loud people."
There's a lot you can do to make sure that you get a nice mix of fun people who are ready to have a good time. Your goal is to make them feel at home so they're ready to kick back and kick ass. If the people are all new to each other it also helps to get a larger group rather than a smaller group.
Naming your event.
Your event name will help you build a brand, and if your event is a success, people will look forward to more events under the same name. The name should be unique and can help contribute to setting the tone for your event.
Preparing your information sheet.
Before you go crazy announcing your event, be sure to have the following details on your information sheet, website (or social networking page), and for your mail-out.
- Event name. (Who?)
- What your event is about. For the newbies. (What?)
- Event location. (Where?)
- Date and time to arrive. Time event will likely end. (When?)
- Entrance fee.
- Major activities and tournaments.
- What each guest needs to bring. See our LAN Party Guest Guide or for an extensive example: Dreamhack's Packlist.
- If your event is multiple nights, ask your guests to bring a pillow, sleeping bag and deodorant.
- Age restrictions. (If any.)
- Hard rules. (Ex: Alcohol restrictions.)
- If it's a multi-day event, sleeping facilities. (Ex: Quiet room, local hotels/motels).
- Plans for food and drink. (Ex: Pizza run? Will you be selling energy drinks?)
- Games you plan on featuring. See our LAN Party games directory for suggestions!
- Location accessibility information, such as parking.
- Any other additional items to bring or policies to be aware of that are specific to your event.
Warning about minors.
If you are going to allow minors to attend your event, always make sure their parent or guardian has consented. You can do this with a simple written waiver. If you are going to have alcohol at the venue, make sure the parents know this. You can get yourself into serious legal hot water in a scenario that mixes minors, adults and alcohol.
Give emphasis on what guests need to bring.
Guests can be forgetful, remember to emphasise that you're hosting a LAN party and it's a Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) event. It's good to have some extra mouse pads, cables and power strips as these are commonly forgotten.
Getting the word out!
Your most important marketing team later on will be your existing attendees. If they enjoy your event, their word of mouth promotion will be one of the most effective ways to grow. That said, it can be more difficult when you're just starting out. You can get the ball rolling and further maximize your promotional effort in a number of other ways:
Having an online presence is simply natural when hosting a LAN party as all attendees will be fellow geeks. List your event on LAN Party event websites such as:
- LAN Party List - Our site!
- Blues News - OLDSCHOOL.
- LANParty.qc.ca - Quebec.
- LANParties.com.au - Australian.
- LANParty.de - Germany.
- Meetup.com - Big but has fee to list.
Promoting on specific community websites.
If your event features a specific game or activity with a popular website, post it there! For example, let's say your event is hosting a 1v1 Starcraft: Broodwar or Starcraft 2 Tournament. The following community sites would be interested:
- Team Liquid - The biggest competitive Starcraft community on the web.
- Starcraft Subreddit - Starcraft community at Reddit. Second biggest as of this writing.
Offline promotion will be a major way to find attendees that are local. Local news (newspaper, TV, radio) may be happy to promote your community event for free or even interview you! Print a poster or information sheet to spread around at:
- Community halls and youth centers.
- Schools: High schools, colleges, universities. Schools can be especially helpful if you're a current student or alumni.
- Internet and gaming cafes.
- Computer hardware stores.
- Mall bulletin boards.
On designing posters.
Make sure your posters clearly state what, when, where, cost and your website if you have one. You don't have to get super fancy, just make sure the information is short and concise. Make sure people can easily use it to find out more about your event.
Should I set up a website for my event?
Once you have more than a few guests coming, a website is an great tool for communicating news and announcements to everyone. If you have the time, knowledge or a volunteer webmaster, you should consider setting up a dedicated website to host information for your party. This website does not have to be complex; a simple WordPress blog or static HTML page will suffice in many cases, especially if your event is just growing. A social networking page on Google+ or Facebook can also work, but you may alienate users who do not use these services.
Information you should place on your website.
In addition to the basic information found on the "information sheet" as described earlier, you can include:
- An online registration form. This can be a very convenient way to confirm guests and keep a list.
- Providing directions with a map.
- News of upcoming events.
- Picture or YouTube videos of past events.
- "What to bring" list for newbies.
- Set the tone of the event with graphics and other information.
You may eventually want to use your own catchy domain name to easily direct guests to your website. We recommend the following service providers:
- Gandi - Domains and VPS/dedicated hosting. Excellent Terms of Service. This is who we use.
- Namecheap.com - Dedicated domain name registrar.
- Dreamhost - Domains and hosting.
We can not recommend GoDaddy due to their involvement in writing and lobbying for the anti-internet freedom SOPA and PIPA bills in early 2012.
Keep a list of attendees. And the ultimate antidote against dropouts.
Dropouts can be a major problem if you're trying to get a LAN party scene going in your area. Keep an updated list of people who are planning to go.
This is your most important weapon against no-shows because it enables you to run down the list to give everyone a quick confirmation/reminder over the phone a day or two before the event. This gives you a very accurate number of guests to expect. People forget. A quick phone call the day before the event can mean the difference between half of your guests showing up or not.
A call also gives you the opportunity to:
- Give a quick hello and introduce yourself.
- Psych them up.
- Remind them of the location and time.
- Ask if there's anything they'd like to know.
- If it's their first event to give a reminder of where to find information on what they should bring.
Maintaining your attendee list.
You can keep a list like this manually, but setting up an automatic system to take information on your website is ideal. Your local webmaster should know how. Making this list public on your website can be a great way to encourage visitors to sign up as attendees. Keep phone numbers and emails private on public lists. Do not spam your guest list.
Information you should get from attendees to make your list:
- Phone number.
- Gamer name.
Final thoughts on event promotion.
Be pro-active when promoting your LAN party! The techniques described here are just the surface, and the sky is the limit.
"Make sure you fail occasionally because if you aren't, you probably aren't fully exploring your options".
- Gabe Newell