Level up your event
In last year, I've been shadowing few professionals regarding event managing, especially event made out of Lego bricks, and here are my observations:
Please note that this are my observations and things can be done in other ways. This one is working for us perfectly.
We are club that could be having the most events done per year of all the clubs in the world - we are continuously exhibiting almost every week in three different countries, with some members of our club seeing home once every few weeks. In last 4 months, I have been 37 days abroad. Therefore, the amount of experience and knowledge we gathered is something you can maybe tap into. Here it is:
For proper setup, large scale event, time needed:. 7 days for: floors (covering with itison) painting of walls and lights. 3 days free, 3 days unloading equipment, 7 days setup of mocs and logistic - 20 days together
Carpet - always. Use itison. Grey for exhibiting area, red or blue for play area.
Always paint the walls unless they are in perfect conditions (they rarely are). Grey is good color, two shades, darker upper. In contract, put that you will be putting screws in walls - do it without fail every time.
Use print on cloth (billboards) as much as you can, info and pictures of creations (if you have a large scale train, info about original, with pictures. Utilize them as much as possible) - billboards are cheapest way of setting the mood of the room, much cheaper than bricks, and they go fantastically hand in hand with creations. Perfect promotion. Always make new banners with local language if you use words (you should, people like to read on events)
Put your own lights on top lights from venue, creations should have inside displays, and for play area - strong lights, like you are exhibiting
Be ready: people who work for you will crash your creations for sure. Be ready (don't be like me, always mad and burning people with eyes:) one worker thought there is a ceiling on my display and put his electric drill on it - but ceilings where not installed yet, and it crashed into diorama, breaking everything - and I was standing near, so I saw it. Other guy ran forklift trough stack of my boxes - dozens of baseplates grinded - I just saw the aftermath. These things happen, be ready not to explode and calculate them in, both in resources and time. This is not an issue for small scale events, but on large scale most of people working on it will be non-AFOLs, and non AFOLs have no clue how much time it is needed to build or fix something. 'you can fix this' is something I could bite head off, if I was temperament and edgy, but I am a nice guy who smiles and calmly explains structural integrity and process of building. Very mature. Very nice. And animal inside starts to cry every time someone shakes box with trees to hear what is inside :)
Organization is extremely important. Everyone should have its own job, and be really sure how and when to do it. Have tasks ready in advance.
Music: setup some speakers and play some non-evasive music. It helps a lot. If team is working for some time together, they will make jokes and fun trough speakers if you have microphone. It builds team spirit, and makes work easier.
Keep it clean.
Near the end, do something good for workers, group activity, barbecue, group seeing of some local extravaganza or similar
Good working atmosphere and ambient - it is sad to say but I was always primness, clutched leader. I am never relaxed when we setup event, as I have to be prepared to react on any issue and hold everything together, but, with introducing teamleaders who took part of responsibility, it become easier to manage big events. With time, teamleaders (link) took initiative, and superseded me in many things, and I was reduced to overseeing role. With enough skilled persons, you can delegate and do more on other side. With delegation, the stress is reduced. It was a pleasure to work in environment where every issue is handled head on, and nothing is so unfixable to produce stress. Even if bridge collapse, or table is not the right size, someone thinks of some creative solution. Few days ago one of my famous four studs bridges collapsed. First time ever. It also tear up all the electric wires. Bunch of guys jumped in, two fixed the bridge, two fixed what was bellow, and one smoldered wires - together, we fixed otherwise catastrophic breakage in literary five minutes - and I thought it can't be fixed, we must take it home and work for a day. Together, everything is easier, and good spirits help a lot with huge scale events.
Money: even when I had a carpenter's shop, I had a rule: everyone gets paycheck in person, alone, and I discouraged talks about it, as every salary was different. Same goes for any work - less you talk about how much you or he is paid, the better. Especially in multinational projects, where you have workers from different countries with different standards. It is best to avoid subject of money altogether, when conversing with other workers - but if you feel confident you can handle it with grace, extra info is always good for future plans: for example, someone comes and offers you 10.000 Eur per month for your creations, renting. It sound huge, you are excited. You sign a year contract. But later you find out that for same size or quality someone else negotiated 20.000. Now you know the client is ready to go higher, and next year you can adjust your price. But be professional and never mention the other guy, just justify rise of price with quality. We are renting everything, from our creations, through our logistics to our expertise - now, with my experience, I can tell you that our expertise in large scale creations and large scale event managing is 90% of all incomes, so much, that we started to give our creations for events for free, same as our logistics. If someone will pay you 3000 eur per month for creations and 10.000 eur for your expertise, you can cut price down for creations to zero and simply enjoy setting up like normal event - my point: it is always better to sell your knowledge and your expertise then your manual labor or your creativity, and also you will avoid clash worth TLG if some bricks in mocs are from lugbulk, project or other type of support - if your creations are at home, and you are paid because of your expertise, there is potentially no clash with anyone
Educating about IP (intellectual property) - how ever professional you get, do not forget your roots: you are still AFOL. Business meetings are great opportunities for educating non AFOLs about IP rules. You will be surprised, higher the entity is on the ladder, more they know and respect this. In practice, only amateurs don't know or don't follow IP rules. Every serious business entrepreneur takes IP extremely seriously - this can be one of the indicators of what type of firm or person you are dealing with.
Spreading community: being part of AFOL community for so long, I kind of think every AFOL belongs to some Lug. Not so by a long shot. I meet fantastic builders who never heard of Jan Beyer (and I get so surprised, you don't know Jan? How is this possible, we are talking about LEGO bricks, right?:) buy it is true: so many AFOL don't even know the concept of RLUG, LAN etc. In last year, I have conscripted some world class builders into Beokocka, whose work you know by internet, who didn't have much or none knowledge of concept of Lug. That takes me to the next point:
Socializing - you are an LAN Ambassador. Be ready to have your days filled with work, and nights with socializing. Most conscripting happened on late socializing nights, where AFOLs saw firsthand how pleasuring, relaxing and fun it could be to socialize with other AFOLs. Do not skip this step, it gave me half of contacts I have today, and it is still cornerstone of our expansion
Expand: do not be afraid to take new people into your community. We started like that, picked up few bad people and had to struggle for quite some time. We lost some good people because of this. And we decided it is not worth it, to take new people in group - we were so happy and content before. So we didn't accept new people for quite some time - that was the wrong decision. New people, new blood, new ideas, new views and experiences - that is what helped us evolve. And the only way to make better events is to evolve.
I hope these tips from my last year can help you in managing large scale, big budget events.
See you next time, and don't forget to smile, my friends :)
By Ivan Angeli