It’s hard to stop college novelties
The hardest part of any novelty event (Street Signs, mugs, license plates etc.) is stopping the line. Let’s face it, novelties, especially those with a high perceived value, draw a long line of students wanting to participate. This is awesome.
With that in mind, if an event runs from 10-2 it’s important to stop at 2:00, for the act, but also for the volunteers and the facilities people. Going over time inconveniences a lot of people. But sometimes stopping is difficult. Our standard method is to hand a numbered order form, a playing card, a poker chip or some other unique item to each person in line, and give the last person a sign to hold that says “Sorry, but I am last in line”. This requires policing, good estimations of time each item takes, and constant reminders to those in line that the line is closed and only those with a token will get a novelty. It’s truly the hardest part of any event for us as there are almost always several people asking us to do “just one more”. In fact, we could do hours of “just one more” and when we make one exception – how do you explain it to the next person that you won’t make an exception for them too! We just always feel awkward at the end of an event telling people “no”. But we’ve got to stop somewhere.
Our friend Ebony Ramsey at Prairie View A&M used an awesome technique that she agreed to let us share.
They had a larger event with several novelties: Architecture Photos, Airbrush Tattoos (available from our agent Everything But The Mime) and us, making Street Signs. In order to get any of these items students first checked in with Ebony and her Student Activities staff, signed in (great way to track attendance) and got a colored ticket for one or two of the novelties, but not all three. They had to choose. She knew how many each of us could make in the three hour time window (for us it’s 60 per hour), so she gave out only 180 tickets.
She had programming board members at each station collecting tickets and managing the lines. At the end of three hours – everyone had been served and there was no pressure on the acts to do more, as we were only serving those who had gotten tickets. It was the smoothest that ending an event has ever gone for us – and we’re pretty good at it.
This can’t work for every school, but if you have volunteers, a way to track who has signed in and a roll of tickets – it’ll really help your novelties to run more smoothly. Maybe even help us to produce more for your students as we don’t have to worry about line management ourselves.
Special thanks for master programmer Ebony Ramsey for this great idea. We hope you can use it.