I've been running live shows now for 8 years and photo shows for much longer. So here are 15 thoughts from a show host about shows, hosting and life in general.
1. Drop Outs
When I ran my first live show back in 2010 nobody dropped out. At all. The same was true the next few years, but then a few years ago something weird started happening. Suddenly waiting lists became essentially, people started to drop like flies. Now it isn't uncommon for a sold out show to not have a full hall on show day because of so many last minute drop outs.
This became so bad last year that this year I implemented a no refunds policy. Not that it has helped...what it does mean is that at least the charity is getting some extra money when someone drops out!
I honestly don't understand it. I've dropped out of shows, this Summer I dropped out of everything and I have never felt more guilty. I just cannot understand why it is so common place now. Well actually that's a lie, I do have a theory. Shows book up so quickly now I think there are people who are 'booking first, planning later'. You'd be amazed how many people book onto shows without even reading the schedule, checking they have transportation or even that there are classes for the models they own! Plan first, if that means you miss out on an initial space and have to join the waiting list then so be it, you'll probably get a space when someone drops out anyway....
2. Entry Fees
When I attended my first live show the entry fee was £15.00. Twelve years later the entry fees are still £15.00. Which makes me wonder, how much have costs gone up? Looking at my own accounts they have gone up a lot. Is it time that standard entry fees started going up and as entrants we expect this to happen?
3. Questions, Questions, Questions
No matter how many FAQ posts, detailed class descriptions or other ways you try to answer every single possible question in advance of a show you will guaranteed still be asked a myriad of questions. Usually the same ones. That you answered. On the schedule.
My highlight has to be "Where do you want British Spotted Ponies?" To which I responded "In the class titled British Spotted Ponies". Yep, they hadn't even bothered to read the schedule.
Pro tip for entrants, read the schedule first, ask the questions second! It's quicker for you and stops a stressed twitchy show holder from sending a rather curt reply!
4. Schedule Numbers
This is probably my autism showing through but seriously if you are running a show number your schedules properly.
I am so guilty of this, where it has reset and not continued numbering, but I've been to shows where it has just been all over the place and it confuses everyone!
5. Starting with Arabians
This is not just me I promise! But honestly there is nothing more confusing than a show that doesn't start with Arabians. Unless you don't have an Arabian class you should always start with Arabians, it just puts me all off centre if you don't (seriously this isn't just the autism I had this conversation with about four other people at BMECS who all agreed they can't stand it)!
P.S. I ran a show this year that didn't start with Arabians. Do as I say not as I do :p
6. Milk & Sugar
If you are running a show there are four things you should never forget to buy: Coffee, Tea, Milk and Sugar.
7. Glossy Certificates
You can't write on glossy certificates. They look pretty but they are annoying. Please use matte.
8. Don't stop moving!
How many miles do you think a show holder walks on show day? As a show host I rarely sit down. I run BIG shows, 150 classes, six sections. If I sit down then the show stops. I keep people moving with good reason, it gets us all home at a decent time. Which brings me onto....
9. The Crash
If you've run a show properly you should feel like death the day after. It's stressful, it's painful. You put your heart, soul and money into making it an amazing day for everyone.
So as an entrant, always say thank you, always remind the show holder how awesome they are the day after. They've worked so hard to prepare that event for you. Honestly some of the stuff show holders do is just insane (crocheted figures for all the entrants anyone?)
I am so guilty of this! But I'm not as bad as some people.
When you attend a show you get one table. Bring a number of models that will fit on that table. Seriously don't block walk ways with your boxes. Show rooms are often quite tight for space and that isn't helped by boxes everyone.
11. Read the Rules People!
This goes for all types of shows. Honestly you haven't run a show if you haven't had at least 20 questions that the person could easily have found the answer to if they had just read the schedule/rules.
12. Hiding Information
That said, show hosts, don't hide the important information! I hate schedules where I have to click CTRL + F just to find out how many entries I can put in a class, or where it is, or how much it is or anything else that is quite important.
Think about how it reads, if you aren't sure get someone to test read it for you.
13. Check Your Postcodes
Hall websites are a nightmare for not putting the right postcodes on them. Check that the hall's postcode is correct (you can use the Royal Mail postcode finder) and also test whether your sat nav will take you there. Adding directions, a map and a correct postcode on your schedule will make things a million time easier for your show attendees.
14. Offer Help
Running a show is hard work, it is stressful and a show host cannot do everything alone. So offer help when you can, whether it is helping with judging (see point 15), helping set up tables or clear them up, washing up or even just bring a yummy cake for everyone to eat. These little things make a big difference to the show hosts day.
15. Send In Your Judging Lists!!!! ON TIME!
OK so I am guilty of this, I know I am, and I can't stand a show holder who wants a judging list 3 months before a show (as a show host avoid this because by the time the show comes along people will have around 50 new models each. Guaranteed.) but seriously people. If someone has given you a deadline of Wednesday before the show get them in by Wednesday before the show. Judging lists take time to do, they take time to alter when people decide they are bringing completely different models and they take time to print. We all have jobs, we all have real lives, we are all fitting this around our other commitments and all we ask is that when we say "We need your judging lists by X" you bother to get your lists in by "X". Please.