Upgrade your celebration

Avoid dramas with smart solutions

19 September, 2018



The end of the school year is a time for celebration and reflection. Valedictories, formals, graduations, dinners, speech nights and concerts are a popular way for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools to commemorate the experiences and achievements of their students.

As well as being some of the most important items in the school calendar, these events can be some of the hardest to manage. At TryBooking, we've been working with educators for over ten years and have helped over 3,000 schools navigate their way through these tricky events.

We've collected this decade of experience into the following guides that explore common issues faced by schools and how they can be avoided with smart solutions.

Tabled seating

Tabled seating is a popular option for formals and farewell dinners.

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How can I let guests select their own tables?

Don't get caught in the middle of guests selecting their tables. Give them the power to choose themselves, and avoid the stresses that come with trying to place friends together (and enemies apart!).

Optional: Import templates from TryBooking

The TryBooking Customer Support team have templates stored for tables 50 tables of 10 attendees, or 100 tables of 10 attendees. If you would like us to set one of these up for you, get in touch before setting up your event via info@trybooking.com.

Step 1: Set up your event
  • From the account dashboard, select Events -> Create event
  • Set up your event with the relevant details for contact, venue etc
    • If you have a venue template set up, select it now
    • At the screen Seating detail, select the allocation option Space
    • Set the maximum number of attendees for your first table
    • Continue setting up your event
Step 2: Create each table as section
  • In the event dashboard, go Allocation -> Sections
  • Add a section for your first table
    • The section name should be Table 01 (if you have more than 9 tables, you will need the zero in front to keep tables in numerical order)
    • Allocation type will be space
    • The maximum number of attendees for this section will be the capacity of the table
    • Go back to Allocation -> Sections and create a section for each table. You can copy the settings created for your first table by selecting it in the Copy settings from drop down list.
    • Delete the 'Section 1' that would have been created by the system for you when you were setting up your event in step 1
Step 3: Communicate with your guests (critical)
  • Add a note on your event homepage and in your communications, including emails and invitations, that guests can choose their own table during the booking process
  • Ensure you communicate this point well in advance, giving groups time to coordinate their table arrangements. Encourage them to book at the same time.
Optional: Add a table layout to your event

Most venues will provide you with a table layout for your event. Add this to your event page and give guests even more control over where they sit.

  • In Allocation -> Sections, click on the table that appears at the top of your list (usually Table 01)
  • Click on the tab Header
  • Insert your seating plan as an image
  • Click Save
How can I move guests to different tables?

Sometimes, guests need to be moved to different tables. Friendship groups fall apart, couples break up, or just simple errors are made. If you've set up each table as a section, moving guests is easy.

Step 1: Locate booking
  • From the account dashboard, click Bookings -> Move a booking
  • Select your event from the Event name drop down menu
  • Enter the last name of the person who booked the tickets into the field Last name
  • Click search. If you have too many results, refine your search by adding in first name
Step 2: Move booking
  • Once you have found the correct booking, click the button Move
  • Tick the tickets you would like to move
  • From the dropdown menu Move to section, select the table you would like to move the guests to
  • Click Move
How can I gather information about guests and partners (including emergency contact information)?

Sometimes you need to gather more than the usual information about your guests, including guest ages (if your event includes alcohol) and emergency contact information.

Step 1: Setup custom data fields
  • Go to Additional information -> Data collection
  • Scroll down to Attendee
  • From the drop down menu Collect information, select Yes
  • Click the button Add field
  • Label the field and set an appropriate field type
  • Click Save and close

Repeat for each field you require.

How do I stop students from bringing more guests than they're allowed?

End of year events can be a hot ticket in families, with parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles eager to celebrate their loved one's achievements. Many venues cannot accommodate all these guests, and schools often have to place a cap on how many attendees each student can bring. Without following our guide, these caps can be difficult to police and rely on an honesty system that can be let down by one rogue family.

Step 1: Set up student and guest tickets
  • In the event dashboard, go to Ticketing -> Pricing group (ticket prices)
  • Select your pricing group from the pricing group name
  • Click on Add ticket type
  • Name the ticket type Student
  • Leave ticket quantity at 1, and type in the price of the ticket in Amount. Leave ticket status as Active
  • Click Save and close

Repeat for guest tickets, making sure to name the ticket type as Guest

Step 2: Place limits on ticket types
  • Click on the Guest ticket type
  • Click on the tab Limits
  • Change Limit option from No limit to Limit per event
  • Leave the minimum at 0, and change the value of maximum to your ticket limit for guests (in many schools, the limit is 2)
  • Click Save

Repeat for student tickets, but this time set the ticket limit to 1

Step 3: Collect student name once per booking

This step adds another layer to keep guests honest. It also helps you link each guest to one of your students, which can be especially useful if guests don't book together at the same time.

  • Go to Additional information -> Data collection
  • Scroll down to Once per booking
  • From the drop down menu Collect information, select Yes
  • Click the button Add field
  • Name the label field Student name
  • Select Yes to Mandatory
  • Set the Field type as single-line text
  • Click Save
I'm worried about gatecrashers. How can I limit the event's privacy?

Gatecrashers can be at best unpleasant and at worst dangerous. Reduce how visible your event is and change how you communicate venue location with our options below.

Option 1: Make your event private
  • In the event dashboard, go to Event promotion -> Event publication
  • In the Public drop down menu, select No

Private events cannot be search for on the TryBooking site, and will not appear in any automatic feed you set up, like the Event Listing page. The only way to find the page is with the direct link.

Option 2: Add a password
  • Still in Event publication, click on the tab Passwords
  • Tick the box marked Password protect this event
  • In the password list, type in a password that can easily be communicated with and remembered by your guests
  • Click save

If your event is still public, it will still be on the TryBooking site and in your event listing page. Guests will be able to view your event homepage, but won't be able to proceed to ticket selection without the password. Make sure you communicate this password with your guests.

How can I give staff free tickets?

Setting up complimentary tickets for staff can be easily handled with promotional codes. By setting staff up with their own ticket type, you can ensure staff are provided with a free ticket while still allowing them to pay for a ticket for a partner or child.

Step 1: Set up a staff ticket
  • In the event dashboard, go to Ticketing -> Pricing group (ticket prices)
  • Click into your pricing group from the pricing group name
  • Click on Add ticket type
  • Name the ticket type Staff
  • Leave ticket quantity at 1, and type in the price of the ticket in Amount. Leave ticket status as Active
  • Click Save and close
Step 2: Set up the code
  • Click into the pricing group you created in step 1
  • In the section Promotions (discounts), click Add promotion
  • Give your code a name and set a code that can easily be remembered and typed in by staff
  • From the drop down menu Percentage, select the option Yes
  • In the field Value, type in 100
  • Click Save and close
Step 3: Assign the promotional code to the Staff ticket type

This will ensure only the staff ticket is discounted at checkout. If you leave this code with its default options, any staff also purchasing guest or student tickets will be able to apply their code to the other tickets.

  • In the section Promotions (discounts), click on your newly created promotional code
  • Click on the tab Discount Code Setting
  • By default, the code will be applied to all ticket types. Remove all ticket types except staff
  • Click Save
Optional: Limit the number of comp tickets per staff member
  • Click on the staff ticket type
  • Click on the tab Limits
  • Change Limit option from No limit to Limit per event
  • Leave the minimum at 0, and change the value of maximum to your ticket limit for staff (1 if you are only paying for staff, 2 if you are paying for staff and a partner)
  • Click Save
Step 4: Communicate with staff
  • Send staff an email and let them know the code to use at checkout to obtain their complimentary ticket. Include the booking link in your email to encourage staff to book straight away
How can I find out if any guests have dietary requirements? How can I communicate this with the venue?

Most tabled events include a meal of some kind. With so many intolerances, allergies and restrictions around food, venues need to know in advance how many guests need to be accommodated.

Step 1: Turn on collect attendee name
  • Go to Additional information -> Data collection
  • Scroll down to Attendee
  • From the drop down menu Collect information, select Yes
  • Tick the box Collect attendee name per ticket
  • Tick the box Make Attendee name mandatory
Step 2: Add a custom field for dietary requirements
  • Still in the Attendee section of Data collection, click the button Add field
  • Label the field Dietary requirements and change the field type to Single-line text
Step 3: Run a custom report to send to the venue

The report Export data is one of TryBooking's most popular, especially for viewing information collected from custom data fields. We encourage you to run this report as many times as you need.

  • From the main dashboard, go to Reports
  • Select the report Export data
  • In the column Ticket details, select:
    • Ticket type
    • Section*
    • First name
    • Last name
    • Dietary requirements
    • Any other information you require
    • Click Export

The report will be downloaded as a CSV. This file type can be opened with a spreadsheet editor if you need to make any changes or would like to convert it to PDF. Otherwise you can email this file straight to the venue.

*We recommend that you set up your event with each table as a section (see notes above on how to let guests select their own tables) so you can tell the venue where the guest will be sitting. You can also use this report to extract your guest names and table selections for door lists, seating charts and place cards.

How do I let VIPs book their seats first? They need to be on a specific table

School captains are usually seated together on a VIP table with other key members of the school community, like the Principal and Chair of Council, and guest speakers.

If the school is paying for the VIP's ticket, like staff or special guests, you as the event organiser can book these seats yourself using a promotional code (see free tickets guide above). Make sure you use the guest's own email address at checkout so the tickets can be sent to them.

For students and guests who need to pay for their own tickets, we suggest you open the event early and restrict access with a password. If you want to close off an entire table, you can do this by changing the pricing schema for the table from active to full.

Step 1: Set the event to private
  • In the event dashboard, go to Event promotion -> Event publication
  • In the Public drop down menu, select No
Step 2: Add a password
  • Still in Event publication, click on the tab Passwords
  • Tick the box marked Password protect this event
  • In the password list, type in a password that can easily be communicated with and remembered by your guests
  • Click save
Step 3: Communicate with your VIPs
  • Send your VIP guests an email and let them know the booking window has been opened just for them. Include the booking link in your email to encourage them to book straight away. If they must be on a specific table, let them know in this email.
  • Send this email a few days before you are planning on opening up tickets to the wider school audience.
Step 4: Reopen event to public bookings

Once your VIPs have booked their tickets:

  • In the event dashboard, go to Event promotion -> Event publication
  • In the Public drop down menu, select Yes
  • Click on the tab Passwords
  • Untick the box marked Password protect this event
  • Click Save
How can I let volunteers, committees and staff know where guests are sitting without giving them complete access to my account?

Set up producer access and let members of your community run reports of your choosing. This can help if you have parent groups who can chase down late bookings or staff who need to monitor table arrangements.

Step 1: Set up producer access
  • In the event dashboard, go to Other -> Producer access
  • In the field password, set a password that you can share with others
  • Tick the reports you want producers to have access to. Learn more about report types here (not all reports will be available to producers)
  • Click Save
Step 2: Communicate login details
  • Send an email to your community members who require producer access, letting them know which reports they can now access and their login details
  • They will be able to login using the event ID as their username (this is available from the producer access page, and from your event page's final URL) and the password you set up in step 1

Hall seating

Many schools choose to use hall seating for events like valedictory, awards nights and concerts.

Hall seating at a graduation event

How can I add an interactive seating plan to my event? I want it to mimic my venue

Venue templates are a time-saver, but they come with a catch—they need to be set up before you create your event. If you're running short on time or don't want to get bogged down setting up each individual seat, get in touch with our Customer Success team via info@trybooking.com.

If you are using an external venue, we also have a suite of templates that can be imported straight into your account, so get in touch.

If you want to set up your hall yourself:

Step 1: Set up your event with seating
  • From the account dashboard, select Events -> Create event
  • Set up your event with the relevant details for contact, venue etc
  • At the screen Seating detail, select the allocation option Seat
  • Set your number of rows and the number of seats per row
  • Continue setting up your event
Step 2: Customise your seating plan
  • From the event dashboard, go to Allocation -> Seat/space
  • Use the features available to edit the seating plan, stage and door list

For more information, read our Learning Centre article on seating plans.

How can I stagger bookings? I'd like to give certain groups priority access

Staggering when tickets are available to your community lets you give priority access to different groups across the school. At graduations and valedictory, this may be giving the graduating class or award recipients first access to seats.

Step 1: Set the event to private
  • In the event dashboard, go to Event promotion -> Event publication
  • In the Public drop down menu, select No

By making your event private, only people with the direct link will find the event; it won't appear on your school's events feed. Once bookings are ready to be opened to everyone, make your event public again.

Optional: Add a password (optional)

Passwords add another layer of security for your event and are great for schools looking to enforce booking windows. They can, however, add extra work for you as the event organiser if you have to keep supplying the password to forgetful guests, so consider this option carefully before adding it in.

  • Still in Event publication, click on the tab Passwords
  • Tick the box marked Password protect this event
  • In the password list, type in a password that can easily be communicated with and remembered by your guests
  • Click save
Step 3: Communicate with your first group
  • Send your first group of guests an email and let them know the booking window has been opened just for them. Include the booking link in your email to encourage them to book straight away. If they must select specific seats, let them know in this email and give them a clear time frame (we recommend 24 hours).

Repeat steps 1-3 for each group you are staggering tickets for

Step 4: Reopen event to public bookings

After the initial, staggered booking window has passed, open your event up to general access.

  • In the event dashboard, go to Event promotion -> Event publication
  • In the Public drop down menu, select Yes
  • Click on the tab Passwords
  • Untick the box marked Password protect this event
  • Click Save
How can I limit the number of tickets each student or family can book?

End of year events can be a hot ticket in families, with parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles eager to celebrate their loved one's achievements. Many venues cannot accommodate all these guests, and schools often have to place a cap on how many attendees each student can bring. These caps can be difficult to police and rely on an honesty system that can be let down by one rogue family.

Step 1: Set up your tickets
  • In the event dashboard, go to Ticketing -> Pricing group (ticket prices)
  • Select your pricing group from the pricing group name
  • Click on Add ticket type
  • Add your ticket name
  • Leave ticket quantity at 1, and type in the price of the ticket in Amount. Leave ticket status as Active
  • Click Save and close
Step 2: Limit the numbers of tickets per booking.
  • In the event dashboard, go to Ticketing -> Limits
  • Select per booking and set your maximum number of tickets
Optional: how to keep families honest

If you're worried about families who may purchase more tickets than they are allocated, or you need to establish which families have booked:

  • Go to Additional information -> Data collection
  • Click on the tab Once per booking
  • From the drop down menu Collect information, select Yes
  • Click the button Add field
  • Name the label field Student name
  • Select Yes to Mandatory
  • Set the Field type as single-line text
  • Click Save
Step 3: Communication and warnings

It's important that you let your families know about the restrictions and that it's so that all families can participate. Make sure you include a message on your communication to families, repeat this on the event homepage and maybe also as a header above your student data collection fields. Consider also popping it into your terms and conditions.

Clear messaging such as "Should you choose to book more than the allocated limit, the school reserves to refund without notice all tickets" has worked well for other schools.

How can I let volunteers, committees and staff know where guests are sitting without giving them complete access to my account?

Set up producer access and let members of your community run reports of your choosing. This can help if you have parent groups who can chase down late bookings or staff who need to monitor seating arrangements.

Step 1: Set up producer access
  • In the even dashboard, go to Other -> Producer access
  • In the field password, set a password that you can share with others
  • Tick the reports you want producers to have access to. Learn more about report types here (not all reports will be available to producers)
  • Click Save
Step 2: Communicate login details
  • Send an email to your community members who require producer access, letting them know which reports they can now access and their login details
  • They will be able to login using the event ID as their username (this is available from the producer access page, and from your event page's final URL) and the password you set up in step 1
How can I reserve seats for VIPs, students and staff without going through the whole booking process?

Some guests, including the official party, VIPs and award recipients, will already know where they have to sit in the hall. These guests may not need to go through the whole booking process to secure their seat. Instead, you can mark their seat as reserved.

Step 1: Reserving seats from the plan
  • In the event dashboard, go to Allocation -> Seat / Space
  • Double check you have the right section and session selected
  • Click Edit seating plan
  • Now select Mark seat as, selecting one of your reserved seat options.
  • Click on the seats you now wish to reserve (one by one)
  • Click Save
Step 2: Communicate with your VIPs

Send an email to each of your VIPs, letting them know which seat you have reserved for them. These guests will not receive automated emails with their tickets, and will not appear on your reports or scanning app, so communication is key. Make sure you keep a list of who is sitting in which seat, in case you need to remind forgetful guests and to ensure ushers have an accurate list.

Checking guests in

How you choose to check guests in will have a big impact on your ability to run comprehensive reports after the event. Ticking guests off of paper lists can be a time-consuming task and creates a bottle-neck at your venue doors. Paper lists also require you to shut your bookings off early so you can prepare materials without missing any last minute bookings. 

Use the scanning app to check guests in

A great alternative to paper lists (or no lists at all) is the TryBooking Scanning App. This free tool is available on both Android and iPhone and lets you easily scan printed or digital tickets using your camera. You can install the app on as many devices as you need, linking multiple devices to one account or event. 

As well as eliminating the need for printed door lists, the scanning app gives you the power to:

  • Mark each attendee off with the date and time they checked in, allowing you to easily see any latecomers
  • Set up rules to allow pass outs
  • See at a glance who hasn't arrived and call them straight from the app
  • Report on scanning data the next day (this is especially useful if it is compulsory for students to attend the event, and you need a list of absentees)

19 September, 2018



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