Purpose of this Document
This document is written to give Officers and Members an idea of where to start with securing a location for games, socials, or charity events to be held for a local Chapter or Domain.
The Function of an Event Site
If it’s an official club function, then the club needs a place to hold it. Generally, members should work together to find a suitable location that fits the needs of the members for that function, whether it be an auditorium to host a World of Darkness game, or just getting together for a barbeque at a park. The following sections will cover the basic considerations that Officers and Members will need to take in obtaining a game or event site.
Determining what is Needed
The event and number of people involved will define what sort of amenities the facility will need in order to serve the club’s purposes. The building or location will need sufficient space, protection against inclement weather, adequate restroom facilities, and accessibility to all club members who intend to participate. However, these are only the bare minimums. The members and officers should discuss their plans and determine what would be reasonable to suit their needs.
While not every need can always be met, and sometimes it’s necessary to make do with what is available, the members should consider what they will require in order to enjoy the event. A Live Action Role Play game will need space to move around and participate in combat, and areas where the players can have conversations in private or sit down for in character meetings. A group of five may be able to meet at someone’s house, but a group of twenty or more would require quite a bit more space. A domain meeting will require tables and chairs enough for Officers and Members who attend to sit comfortably and take notes. A charity event may take a huge amount of space or very little depending on the activities involved.
You may also want to consider what sort of budget you might have to work with. While there are options available for working out funding which will be discussed later in this document, you will likely need to know what sort of funds the members have available in case you have to settle on a location that charges a fee for use. This can limit options available, though there are several types of facilities you may be able to use at little to no cost.
In all cases, the members should consider what it is they intend to do, and then come up with ideas on what locations they might be able to use. Once the need is determined, the members can start looking for a location that suits it.
Identifying Good Locations
In many cases there are a variety of locations that would make a great place to hold activities in every town or city. Members should get together and make a list of the available locations in the area, and look up their contact information in phone books or online. Locations such as Gaming Stores, Colleges, Parks, Community Centers, Homes, Warehouses, Casinos, Hotels, and Theaters (acting not movie) are all options that could be available to you. Members might even consider inquiring with local lodges like Elks or Eagles, or perhaps a restaurant is a good place for a domain meeting. Maybe someone in the domain has an uncle with a large shop available?
When making this list, however, you should take careful consideration of what would not make a good location. Scrap yards, construction sites, and terrain that has a lot of rocks and obstacles might seem like fun, but could result in serious injury. Anywhere that requires hiking in the woods for more than a few minutes, and public streets are typically not a good idea either as it can cause distress for the players or the public. There are many stories about clubs playing in public and the local authorities being called do to the unusual activities and misunderstood conversations. And in all cases, you should certainly not play on private property without having acquired permission first.
You’ll also need to take into consideration local laws and ordinances, or special rules and restrictions a facility might have. A park is generally open to the public and can be used freely, but you’ll have to find out if it might close when the sun sets, or if there might be bad weather that could ruin your activity. A sunny day in summer makes the park a fine place to play, but the middle of winter in a blizzard could be quite disastrous.
Contacting the Facility
Once you have a list of possible places, you should consider writing a short script explaining who you are, what the club is about, and that you’re looking for a place to host your meetings or events. It’s important to avoid blurting out things like ‘we want to hang around your business and act like vampires’.
Here is a possible script you might consider:
*“Hi, my name is John Doe, and I’m a member of a club called the Mind’s Eye Society. We’re currently looking for a location to host meetings and activities for our club, and we were wondering if you had any space available?”*
Often, whomever you speak to will not have heard of the MES, and you should be prepared to field questions on what the clubs activities are. A simple description such as the one below generally suits well:
*“The Mind’s Eye Society is a nationwide non-profit organization and member of the Camarilla Fan Club, whose activities are centered on getting together to play games based on impromptu acting, and participating in charity drives for other organizations such as the Red Cross.”*
You should also have a list of your own questions. Below is a list of a few you will want to consider asking, but note that not all may pertain to any given situation. Some facilities may be free of charge. If you have students in your club that go to a local college, you might have them inquire with the school on how to gain access to the campus for your events. Here are some questions you might consider when contacting a facility:
- How close are the restrooms to the location?
- Is it wheelchair accessible?
- How much do you generally charge for the space?
- Do you offer discounts for non profit organizations or clubs?
- Do you offer a discount for long term scheduling and use?
- Do you offer discounts for flexible scheduling?
Remember that this part of the process is only for information finding . You should always end the conversation politely, advising them that you will be bringing the information that you’ve obtained up with the club for a vote, and then will get back to them with the response.
It is advised that you call facilities back, even if they are not the one the club has decided to go with. *Something may come up in the future that results in you no longer being able to use your current facility, and maintaining good relations with other options is important. You need only simply call back and state:
“This is John Doe from the Mind’s Eye Society. I just wanted to thank you for answering all of my questions the other day. Unfortunately, the club has decided to go with another option, but I wanted to let you know that we might be in contact with you for other events.”
With the initial contact over, and some clear information, we are now ready to discuss Rent and Fees.
Rent and Fees
Many options for location will charge you for use of their facilities. For this matter it becomes important to consider your location options carefully, as in most cases local chapters or domains may not have the membership count and funding to cover an expensive location, and having to pay a monthly fee to play might chase away potential newcomers.
Before you set yourself on the path of requiring a monthly fee of the members, consider some no-cost options first such as Colleges and Gaming stores, or even community centers in some places. You may consider asking around the mailing lists to other domains to see what is working for them. The best option is usually the no cost option.
However, if you’ve found the perfect location and you’re set on using it despite its cost, then you’ll need to find a way to cover the rent. The first step in this process is to negotiate with the facility for the lowest
price possible. In the previous section, a few questions were listed for inquiring on discounts that may be available. With some locations, the offer of a guaranteed income every month is grounds to negotiate on, as the hotels and casinos usually have fiscal goals they are trying to reach, and a club such as ours that usually just needs a place to meet can be a good deal for them. Its might be a good idea to have a budget already in place, which you would have discussed in a prior meeting. Never offer the whole amount upfront, but open with a saying ‘We’d like to see about using your space, and we’d like to see if you would be willing to take X amount for each evening?’
Hotels, Casinos, and Apartment building clubhouses may be willing to provide you a space for minimal cost as long as you’re willing to work around the scheduling of other events like weddings. If you’re going to work a flexible schedule with them, then you need to lay ground rules for there to be at least a month or more notice if you can’t use the facility on a regularly scheduled day. A game store may be inclined to the idea that the club will be bringing more business to their shop. It’s important that when negotiating a price that you be flexible and willing to work with the company.
Once you’ve negotiated for the lowest price possible, its time to go to the club members and discuss what may be available for funding, and how they want to pay for it. The simplest option is to hold a meeting with the members, state what the cost of use for the facility will be, and then work out a ‘per game’ or ‘per month’ fee for play. This by no means the best option and a lot of members may be distressed or not show up if they have to pay to play. The presiding Coordinator of the event could also give an update at every meeting and let the members know where they stand with the upcoming months rent, and ask for donations instead. You may consider a ‘donations basket’, asking that the members try and donate a few dollars when they come in the door.
There are also several options available to the members besides a simple monthly fee. You should work with your Chapter, Domain, and Regional Storytellers to set up Auctions for approval items on characters, chili cook-offs with entry and eating fees, or a variety of other events to accumulate funds. Paying a monthly fee can be tedious and chase away members, but giving them something fun, delicious, or useful in return will generally result in a good turn out. A bi-monthly social focused around such a fundraiser could be an excellent way to provide activities and events for members as well.
Scheduling is important to consider when setting up any event. The primary concern will be whether the facility will be available in the same time periods that are convenient for members and others who will be attending. A schedule of available times and dates can be easily obtained from the facility, and brought to a club meeting for discussion. The members will need to find which dates will work best, and then give careful consideration for the planning, setup, and cleanup times that will be necessary for the event.
In most cases, setting up the schedule of game events and business meetings for a full year might be helpful, and keeping them to the same days or dates each month will make it easy for members to remember. A long term schedule posted to a public site, such as the Domain wiki page, also means
that outside visitors from other domains will be better able to plan when they could come by. The managers for the facility will even appreciate the long term schedule and offer discounts for booking so far in advance. Events such as Socials and Auctions might be scheduled and announced a month in advance so that Members will have time to prepare food or save money. Depending on the nature of a Charity event, it may take several months of advanced planning and conversation with a location.
More on Charity planning can be found in its own education document.
As a officer, it is helpful to keep a list of past locations that have been used and the details about them (contact information, cost, problems etc). This will help you and future officers with locations in the future.