Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Event Announcements

With the the busy fall event season kicking into high gear, reservations clerks, head cooks, gate keepers, and autocrats across the Kingdom are waiting with bated breath for friendly little envelopes full of your money. How can you bring joyous smiles to these hard-working peoples’ faces, with minimal effort on your part?

The Æthelmearc Gazette is here to help! We’ll answer all your burning questions, including:

  • Why Pre-Register at all?
  • How do I know what to pay, especially with this new wording?
  • Sometimes I’m confused about how much to pay. What do I do?
  • Who do I make the check out to?
  • What do I include with my check?
  • How do I know they got my check?
  • When can I expect the check to be cashed?
  • Can I pay any other way besides a check?
  • How else can I make the process go smoothly?
  • Advanced class: Why did the wording change in the money section of event announcements?
  • Advanced class: So, what happened to the NMS (non-member surcharge) then? They said it was important, are they not collecting it?

Been around for 40 years and think you know all these answers? Well, they may surprise you! Read on!

Why Pre-Register at all?
On your end, it makes check-in super fast and easy. Sometimes there’s even a separate line for those who have pre-registered. Skip to the head of the class! Sometimes space is limited for feast, lunch, or the nice camping facilities… if you don’t pre-reg, you could (and for some events, will) miss out on fabulous food, or a warm, dry bed for the weekend.

On the event staff end, it is so, so, soooo much easier to plan if they know how many people are coming! Really. Planning ahead can mean the difference between losing money and making money for the local group (which they need for supplies and so forth). Help them out!

Planning is particularly important for the food. Ever been to an event that has a lunch that runs out of food, or there seems to be way too much? It’s because they didn’t know how many people to plan for. Be part of the solution! Sometimes, the feast cook will adjust how many people he or she is cooking for, based on the number of pre-regs. If you pre-reg, more people can eat! It will warm the cockles of our cooks’ hearts.

How do I know what to pay, especially with this new wording?
It’s right in the event announcement! Handy! Skim down to the money bit of the announcement. If you’ve been around a while you will notice that it looks different now than it did a few months ago. The Corporate Office asked the local groups to change the way we word the money bits. (More on that below). But don’t worry, read it carefully, and it will make sense. Here’s the important part:

If you are a member of the SCA, you qualify for the member discount! Yay! So send that amount (“Adult Member Discount Registration” usually), not what we are referring to as the “Adult Registration” amount. That is for non-members.

Also, pay attention to what the registration pays for… don’t stop at the number. Most event announcements will say. It’s common for the registration amount to pay for entry and maybe lunch, but it won’t include feast. That’s usually a separate line, and you have to keep reading to get to it. Same for camping or cabin fees, if there are any.

For example: The event announcement says, “Adult Event Registration, $15. Adult Member Discount Registration, $10. Registration includes lunch. Feast is an additional $10”. What do you send?

  • If you are a member of the SCA over 18, and you want to eat feast, you send a check for $20.
  • If you are a member over 18 and don’t want feast, you send a check for $10.
  • If you are not a member, are over 18, and you want to eat feast, you send a check for $25.
  • If you not a member, are over 18, and you don’t want feast, you send $15.

Sometimes I’m confused about how much to pay. What do I do?
Don’t guess! Just send a quick email or message to the reservations clerk or autocrat and ask. Or call. That’s just a few minutes of your and their time. Easy and fast.

Guessing and getting it wrong, or being incautious with the math and getting it wrong, can cause a headache for the reservations clerk, gatekeeper, possibly the exchequer, and you when you arrive at the event. Confusion and time wasted! It will make the gate folks sad. No one likes sad trolls! If you’re not sure, ask before you send the reservation.

Who do I make the check out to?
That’s in the event announcement, too! Take a quick look at it. Scan for the money section – it’s usually before or after that. You’ll see the phrase “Make checks payable to: SCA [state] Inc, – [Name of local group].” Never make a check out to the name of the autocrat or reservations clerk. It’ll always be to a group. A couple examples: SCA NY, Inc – Shire of Coppertree; SCA PA, Inc – Debatable Lands; SCA WV, Inc – Shire of Sylvan Glen.

While you’re writing the check, don’t forget to sign and date it! And it can be helpful to write your phone number on it, too (if you’re so inclined), in case the reservations clerk has questions. It will make his or her eyes sparkle with joy.

What should I include with my check?
You should include a note saying who you are and what you’re paying for. Don’t laugh! People don’t! Please do send a note. It should include the full mundane names of everyone you’re paying for, their SCA names if they got ’em, exactly what you think you’re paying for, and the amounts (this helps with your math, too!). If you’re paying for kids, it’s also helpful to include their ages. Also, your contact info – phone number and email address.

Here’s a bad example (don’t do this!):
Hey, looking forward to it, bringing the kids and mom, see you then! Love, Mary [includes a check for $89]

Here’s a good example:
Enclosed is a check for $89 for the Feast of Awesome on Oct 1:
Lady Mariah du Jardin (Mary Contrary-Smythe): $12 + $ 8 feast ($20)
Lord Hugo Oaksplitter (Jack Contrary): $12 + $8 feast ($20)
(no SCA name) (Evelyn Smythe): $17 (non member) + $8 feast ($25)
Bucky Oaksplitter (Bucky Contrary, age 9), $6 + $8 feast ($14)
Mimi Oaksplitter (Mimi Contrary, age 3), $0 + $0 feast, will need a feast seat, please
Also, 5 beds in a cabin for one night (Saturday), 5 x $2 ($10)
Any questions, please call (412) 555-5555 or email mary.contrary@gmail.com. We’ll show our membership cards at the door. Thanks!

Send something like that, and you may get a smiley face and a star next to your name. The gatekeeper might even wink at you in appreciation.

How do I know if they got my check?
You won’t necessarily. But if you include a polite note with your check (for example, “Can you please email or FB message me when you get this? mary.contrary@gmail.com”), most reservations clerks are happy to take a moment and drop you a note.

When can I expect the check to be cashed?
Within a week of when it is received. That’s what’s supposed to happen. In reality, sometimes it can take longer. Feel free to contact the autocrat, exchequer, or seneschal of the group holding the event, if something seems to have gone awry.

Is there any other way to pay besides a check?
If you’re mailing it, you’ll have to write a check. Or you could send a money order. Sending cash through the mail isn’t a good idea. If the person taking pre-regs is local to you, they may be willing to take cash in person.

We know, we know… you can pay online for, like, everything these days, why not events? Short answer: it’s against SCA policy for local groups to set up that sort of thing, so we don’t. There’s a PayPal experiment going on in other Kingdoms right now. If it works out, we may implement here, but it’s still in a testing phase right now.

An alternative to physically writing check is to ask your bank if you can do online requests for physical checks to be sent. Basically, you enter the info on their website, and the reservations clerk will get a physical check in the mail. This service does exist, and some banks do it. You need to enter the “payable to” and physical address correctly! And please do request it in enough time, since it sends a check through the mail… Not as fast as PayPal, but hey, it’s online!

What else can I do to make the process work smoothly?
The best thing you can do is send your pre-registration in early enough. Feast (or cabin) spaces can sell out pretty fast, and event staff really hates to disappoint people. In fact, the number of feast spaces available may be dependent on how many pre-regs there are! And if you’ve asked if there’s space and they say “yes”, don’t dawdle! There may be space that day, but if you wait a week to send your check, it may be sold out by then. Ensure a cheerful check-in and send in early!

Advanced class: Why did the wording change in the money section of event announcements?
The short answer: so that the SCA isn’t taxed by states inappropriately.

There was a state that wanted to tax SCA event fees, since the wording of the event announcement made it sound like we do entertainment stuff, like Ren Faires. Entertainment stuff can be taxed. As you all know, we are not entertainment; we are a participatory organization. Such things are not taxed. The change was needed in order to make it super clear that our events are participatory in nature, not entertainment or some other taxable thing. SCA Corporate rolled it out to all the Kingdoms because, as we learned from creating subsidiaries, such things (like new ways to levy taxes) tend to spread from state to state, and they wanted to head it off at the pass.

Bonus is that the new wording is friendlier to new folks, and more inclusive than “non-member surcharge”. That’s been a Corporate-level discussion for years. It was a good time to make the change.

Advanced class: So, what happened to the NMS (non-member surcharge) then? They said it was important, are they not collecting it?
Remember how the NMS was $5? Well, you may notice that the “adult event registration” prices and the “adult member discount registration” prices are exactly $5 different! This is not a coincidence!

That difference of $5 per non-member is still collected and sent to Corporate, just like the NMS was. On the back end (that the exchequers, autocrats, and seneschals worry about), it gets reported and sent the same way it always has. They’re renaming it to NMR (non-member registration). It’s just a front end nomenclature change, and it doesn’t change the way we’re collecting and reporting anything. It’ll take some getting used to, but we’ll get there!

This article was written by Baroness Hilda Hugelmann, so any mistakes are hers. Thanks to Master Bataar Sogdo, Deputy Kingdom Exchequer, for contributing information used in writing the advanced class information, and to Duchess Dorinda Courtenay for ideas and FAQs.