Pre-registration involves taking people's money in advance of the event.
1. To put some money in the bank to pay for early costs such as deposits. Usually this is not strictly necessary as there is a pool of funds from previous events that you can borrow. But it's very comforting to have a big bank balance before the event starts.
2. To create a group of people who are committed to coming, who hopefully act as your walking adverts.
3. To help forecast numbers. In 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 (at least), attendance was almost exactly double the pre-reg numbers (though for BJC 2013 prereg was 75% of real attendance). Even if this doesn't happen for your event, 400 people pre-registering means nearly £30,000 in your bank account that you can be certain of.
To encourage people to pre-register, tickets are normally sold at a discount to people who pre-register compared to the prices charged on the door. This discount has varied between 10-20% (for more details see Ticket prices). Some conventions (e.g. Darton, Pickering, Southend, Huddersfield and Cardiff BJC) have had early pre-reg prices and standard pre-reg prices to encourage people to pre-register earlier, rather than just leave it to the last week before the pre-registration deadline.
BJC 2012 kept on selling tickets on-line at the door price right up to the event. About 100 people took advantage of this, but it didn't seem to make an appreciable difference to the final figures and it cost the convention in credit card fees.
Bank transfers are a bad idea. There's no reliable way to work out who has paid what, and it requires the person handling pre-reg to have access to the company's online banking.
Many conventions have occasionally accepted bank transfers from individuals who are having problems paying another way or who are making a large one-off order for a group.
Credit card payments
The advantage of credit card payments is that it requires almost zero work from the team once a shopping cart is set up. It's also the only easy way to handle payments from customers without a UK bank account (and there are often quite a lot of these).
Emily Winch has a shopping cart licence which organisers can borrow, and she knows how to set it up to process credit cards from your website.
Each credit card payment can cost you £2-£3 in fees, and there are initial costs of perhaps £30 (depending on how your website is set up). So if everyone (pre-reg & on-site) pays by card that could be 2-3% of your BJC budget spent on credit card fees.
If you have someone who's good at boring but important admin tasks, and who really couldn't be doing anything more important, then going cheques-only will save you a lot of money. Someone will need to track all the cheques, pay them into the bank, and maintain an accurate record of who has paid.
If you have someone that you trust to do all this work, then it's possible you could use their time more productively on (for example) planning the evening entertainment, which is a pretty big job and can't be done by a computer.
You need to stop accepting cheques well before the event, otherwise some of them may still be in the post when people arrive.
Even if you accept credit cards, a few people (fewer every year) still like to send cheques. The shopping cart software used in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 allowed customers to fill in all their details on-line, even if they were paying by cheque. Cheque payers are then presented with a form (with all those details) which they print out and send in the post with the cheque. This has the advantage that nobody on the team needs to decipher any handwriting, cope with missing details on forms, or type everything into the database. All they need to do is use the order number from the form to find the order in the database and mark it as paid.
Having plenty of records at every stage is important, you'll need it when a customer gets in touch claiming that they sent a cheque and haven't received their confirmation email.
People no longer routinely carry cheque-books, if you plan to collect pre-registrations at a one-day convention, advertise this in advance to encourage people to bring their cheque-books , to save you having to pay credit card fees or needing to direct people to the nearest atm.
There are plans to phase out cheques by 2018, and they are likely to become less common as that date approaches.
It's good to be able to take cash at regional conventions. It's very very easy to lose track of who handed you it. Write everything down! Carry pre-registration forms and do not accept money unless people fill out a pre-reg form.
People like to have a ticket as a souvenir. Tickets cost money to print, and a lot of someone's time to post out. Sending emails is just as effective; you can cross-reference people's names against a list on the Reg desk.
Lots of people forget to bring their tickets, so even if you send them out, you still have to keep a database on the front desk to avoid a pandemonium of forgetful people.
Previous Pre-reg Dates
The start dates are based on when pre-reg was publicly announced as open.
|Year||Early Pre-reg period||Std Pre-reg Period|| Notes
|BJC 2010||09/10/2009 - 30/11/2009||01/12/2009 - 24/02/2010|
|BJC 2011||no early pre-reg||15/11/2010 - 28/2/2011|
|BJC 2012||12/08/2011 - Dec 2011||Jan 2012 - 15/02/2012|
|BJC 2013||12/10/2012 - 31/12/2012||01/01/2013 - 08/03/2013|
|BJC 2014||13/08/2013 - 31/10/2013||01/11/2013 - 31/1/2014|
|BJC 2015||17/09/2014 - 31/10/2014||01/11/2014 - 31/01/2015|
|BJC 2016||01/11/2015 - 30/11/2015||01/12/2015 - 31/01/2016|
|BJC 2017||08/09/2016 - 25/09/2016||02/01/2017 - 28/02/2017|| there were only 100 adult tickets at cheapest price available, and originally only 150 adult tickets at the next price,|
there were also cheaper tickets for sale at one day conventions after these dates
|BJC 2018||04/09/2017 - 31/12/2017||01/01/2018 - 28/02/2018||tickets continued being sold on-line after the end of pre-reg at the "on the door price" till up to two days before BJC started|
If you are planning on organising a BJC then there is a spreadsheet with all the pre-reg data back to 1999, available by request from Mini Mansell.
Only three people have attended every BJC, they are referred to on this wiki as the Gold three.