How to Bid On and Run a KWHS

How to bid on and run a KWHS

A Known World Heraldic Symposium (KWHS)is an easy event to run but not the same as a standard event. Generally KWHS is held at a hotel and the fact that many attendees will be flying in has to be taken into account when locating a site and planning activities.

When considering a bid to autocrat KWHS it is generally useful to speak with the autocrats from the KWHS of the recent past. These names and contact information can generally be obtained from the Laurel Sovereign of Arms or other members of the CoA. If possible, the would-be autocrat will benefit from attending a KWHS. Things to discuss with previous autocrats include such topics as attendance numbers (keeping in mind the ease and cost of getting to the different cities), the costs of doing business with hotels rather than the usual sites the SCA uses, and any suggested teachers.

It is also useful to inquire of Laurel if there are any other bids in the works for that year and any other special information for that year. Some things that are considered with the bids is geographic location. It is preferred for the KWHS to be held in different parts of the country. If your area of the country has recently hosted KWHS your site is less likely to be chosen.

Your Principal Herald is also a good resource to answer questions about KWHS or to help contact previous autocrats. It will help your bid if it will be supported by your Principal Herald. S/he can also tell you if anyone else in your kingdom is working on a bid.

Of course you must get permission from your local group to bid for the event since they will be fronting the money. KWHS has the potential to make a lot of money from the group but can require deposit money to the hotel. Your group will have to discuss if they wish to hold a separate feast and how they will help transport attendees from the general site to the feast site and back.

Early in the process you will want to check out the site you are considering using. You will want to discuss with the conference coordinator at the site what kinds of rates you can get on sleeping rooms, meeting rooms for classes, a meeting room for the Laurel Road show meeting on Sunday morning, space and food for a Friday evening reception and what kinds of arrangements can be made for a feast. It is also useful to discuss what space would be available for merchants. When looking at sites, keeping mind that a pool is a preferred extra. Remember, if you are using a Hotel, they will often give reduced room rates if you reserve a block of sleeping rooms, so be sure to inquire about reduced rates. Also you can usually get the cost of the meeting rooms reduced by filling sleeping rooms; the more rooms you fill the cheaper your meeting rooms become. Inquire as to the time of late check out and if the hotel has a secure area for holding luggage for guests who check out but don't leave immediately.

Check the area surrounding the site for fast food and other restaurants and other amenities that would be useful to the attendees.

The local chamber of Commerce is a valuable resource for brochures of local attractions and any discounts available at local establishments for conventions and attendees.

When you prepare a bid, it should contain the following information: the date of the event (generally the 3rd weekend in June), your kingdom and group, the name and address of the site along with the price structure for sleeping rooms and for the event.

A description of the site and facilities, ease of transportation to the site and ease of access to dining facilities. You should include plans for the proceeds (if any) and any special activies planned for the event such as a keynote speaker. Include how many tracks of classes you anticipate running and if they will include scribal classes. It is useful to include information on special attractions in your area, such as museums, natural attractions, amusements parks, good fabric stores or used book stores or other places of interest to attendees or their significant others. Include a list of your staff which should include the following: autocrat, class coordinator, Proceedings editor, merchant coordinator and head cook(if a non-hotel feast is planned).

While preparing your bid the autocrat should consider the following: will you be able to have a hospitality suite. This is an important place for attendees to gather when not in classes and a place to post information for everyone. The event often pays for the Laurel Sovereign's sleeping room. This can be the place to allocate one of the complimentary sleeping rooms that you can usually get as part of the package from the hotel.

When your investigations are complete put to together a packet including site brochures and any other brochures or information you wish considered and send full copies to the Laurel Sovereign and your Principal Herald. Make a condensed one or two page version to go out to the members of the CoA (College of Arms). You can get a copy of the CoA roster from your Principal Herald and send them out yourself or send a copy to Laurel and ask that it be included in the next Laurel letter packet. It is courteous to send a copy to the Herald's Ombudsman on the BoD.

Generally Laurel will call for bids in January or February and close the process around April. The earlier you submit your bid, the longer the CoA will have to comment on it and a good bid in early may forestall competition.

After your bid acceptance has been announced at KWHS meet with your staff and set up a timetable for the event. You will want to send out a brief announcement to all the kingdom newsletter (it is a good idea to hit the principality and heraldic newsletters and newsgroups as well) in the fall. This will allow people to consider their finances and make airline reservations well ahead for the lowest fares. This first announcement can be very brief but should include when and where the event will be held, pricing, contact info for the autocrat, registration information and who to contact will offers to teach and how to submit articles for the Proceedings.

A second announcement to the newsletters should go out in January with more information and the final flyer for the event should be in May or June and should include more class information and information how how to get copies of the Proceedings.

There are other outlets for advertising your KWHS, make the most of them. They include flyers to be included with the Laurel LOAR packet and the inter-net use the heraldslist, Rialto and various kingdom mailing lists as well as the alt.sca.heraldry news group. These can be very useful particularly for drumming up instructors and articles for the Proceedings. I suggest hitting these sources on a monthly basis from January to June. If possible a web site with information would be classy. When using inter-net sources it is polite to add a note asking for the info to be passed to the non-net connected community.

Of course to run KWHS you will need instructors. You will get volunteers and most are great but check with your Principal Herald or Laurel if you are unsure of someone's credentials. Ask Laurel, your Principal Herald, Signet clerk and A&S officer for suggestions. Ask the previous year's autocrat if there were any classes they could not fit into the schedule. Do not be afraid to approach people to ask them to teach, it is an honor. It is nice to the instructors to ask them if there are classes they do not want to conflict with and try to arrange the schedule to suit. This is not always possible. Be sure to let your potential instructors know if they will be teaching as soon as possible.

When you secure your instructors, you will need to get some information from them such as how much time will they need for their class and do they wish to restrict class size or need a special seating arrangement. If they need special equipment, you will need to secure it either from the hotel (who usually charges a fee) or from someone in the group. A short list of possibilities includes flip pads, slide projectors and screens and VCR and monitor. It may be helpful to your instructors to offer to copy class hand-outs for them, particularly if they have to travel a great distance.

Proceedings can be a great way to make money for your group. You will need a responsible editor who will put together a quality product. Better sales seem to occur when the Proceedings are available at KWHS rather than taking orders and delivering after the event. You will need to decide if you can deal with color plates or will stick to black and white only. Advertise constantly that you are looking for articles. Include in your ads how to contact the editor , in what formats the editor can accept submissions (hard copy, Dos, Mac, disk size,email,ect.) and the submissions deadline. The kingdom newlsetters will usuallly provide free space for things like this to fill small spaces in th enewsletter. It is courteous to provide a complimentary copy to each author in your Proceedings.

The local Chamber of Commerce will be glad to provide you with brochures for local attractions for you to have available for attendees and significant others. Get enough so people can take copies if they want to make side trips while they are in town. It is useful to make up maps of the local area showing placement of eateries and stores.

There is generally an informal reception on Friday night that is garb-optional. It is a time to meet and greet old friends and get introduced to people known only through commenting letters or electronic media. Finger foods and non-alcoholic beverages are generally served . Often there is a cash bar but it is usually not well patronized.

I strongly suggest setting up a hospitality suite as a place for people to hang out during the weekend. It is nice to have some food and beverages available here for snacking. This is a good place to provide information to attendees such as schedule changes and lists of who is in what rooms. Simple activities can also be popular, one year a 1000 piece 3-D jigsaw puzzle of a castle was completed during the weekend.

You and your staff will need to consider the 3 options available for dinner on Saturday. Often a hotel feast will be offered. In this you must be careful to discuss what food may be offered from the hotel menu that will be acceptable to attendees and will not be too expensive. Make sure you can get out of the dinner contract with hotel if you don't have a minimum number of reservations, often attendees will chose to go out for dinner with friends rather than eat a hotel dinner.

If you chose to do a typical feast you will probably have to find another site for it as most hotels will not allow you to cook on site or bring in your own dinner. Also plan how you will transport attendees to the feast site as many will have flown in and not have access to cars. This is do able but requires more planning than the other options.

The third option is not to provide a dinner but publish a list of restaurants ranging from fast food to ethnic to chain steak house and let the attendees sort out dinner for themselves.

In any event you might want to consider an evening revel. It is important to publicize this well, so folks who go out for dinner will know where and when to find the revel but don't be surprised if people hang out at the pool or in people's rooms instead.

Merchants can be an important part of your event. You can showcase the interesting things in your kingdom to the rest of the Known World. You can sell this event to the merchants by pointing out that they will have new sales opportunities of people from across the Known World. Setting up a good Merchant room is easier if you have a merchant contact, someone who can answer questions for the merchants and help with problem resolution. If there are special instructions or requirements for the merchants a handout is useful. If your group will be selling tee shirts or book bags to commemorate the event this is the person to handle it (tee shirts are a good money maker). If you can not line up a merchant of heraldic books and SCA A&Os and updates, sometimes it is possible to work something out with Free Trumpet Press to sell for them. Try to place the Merchant room in an area that is easy to get to with heavy boxes and close to where the main event area.

The Laurel Road show decision meeting is generally held Sunday morning and is well attended, so you will need a large room with seating for this. It is really nice to provide coffee and nice but not so important to provide Danish or Donuts. Laurel and staff will require a table and chairs where they will be able to display the submissions to the audience. This meeting is usually over by noon.

Once the event actually starts the autocrat can take a deep breath and realize the job is winding down. It is important to have the autocrat or designated staff member on site early on Friday. This individual should know who on the hotel staff to contact to resolve problems.

Have the hotel indicate where you can set up the registration table. The lobby area is preferable. Provide attendees with name tags (the pin-on kind are best as they can be used all weekend) and markers. Encourage attendees to put their SCA name, device, kingdom and heraldic office if any) on their name tags. Provide a schedule for the weekend for each attendee. It is useful to ask attendees to note their sleeping room number on a log so attendees can locate each other in the hotel.

The autocrat should planning on not attending many classes but rather float to ensure that all runs smoothly. It is often useful to give instructors a 5 or 10 minute warning to wrap up classes.

KWHS is not a difficult event to run. Most of the work comes before the event. Teachers mainly come from the CoA and are easy to find. There is little site clean up after this event because the hotel does it. Remember to finish off any event reporting paperwork required by your group of kingdom. Have fun.