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Thomas Rice November 24, 2000 04:25 AM

The HUGE underage dance party I have planned!
A while back I noted that I'd been planning a big underage dance party. Well, I thought I'd let you know how far I had gotten and give you some insight into my thought process.

A dance party is an idea I've had for a while. I've considered it while in Grade 12. I considered it a year ago. And I reconsidered it recently, sparked by that "The Money Game" show.

Why underage? A few reasons:

(1) Less competition. With underage, you're competing with going to the movies, getting a video, seeing friends, staying home, and so forth. With overage, you have all that plus all the nightclubs that are open most nights.

(2) No liquor license requirements. I'm not sure how to go about handling all that at the moment.

(3) I have more underage contacts. I'm still 20, so I know a bit more about what underage people go for I think, plus have lots of friends' sisters and so forth that would want to promote.

So, after getting the idea to hold a big underage dance party, I sat down with my trusty Excel, the program I use to do my financial modelling for my stockbroking firm research reports, and my own investment research, and started playing with numbers.

First I listed all the anticipated costs and revenues, and then I had to call around to get cost estimates. Trust me, this is a lot of work.

Why do this? Because such an event can easily cost over $10,000, and if you're risking that much, you want to know how much money you can make, what the break-even point is, and so forth.

I called up a number of people, around 5, for their advice, too. I happen to know a number of people who have run similar events, or have been to similar events before, so I got their advice and selectively listened.

I also found someone to be my promotions manager. Holding such an event is a big ask, and I don't like doing these things alone, so I found someone who was referred to me by a friend who was willing to be my promotions manager, and met him and talked through the event with him.

Then we found a venue -- Festival Hall, Melbourne. It can hold up to around 6000 people and is used for lots of big name acts.

Good venue. Only problem is if you have 2000 people there, it can look empty... or so I'm told.

I also had to consider my target audience. Originally it was 15 and 16 year olds.

My thinking behind this? The musical tastes of 15 and 16 year olds is not as well developed as those older, so they're less likely to take notice of big name DJs and the like and thus you don't need to spend as much on such things.

I later rethought this and changed the target audience to Grade 11's and 12's (16/17 year olds). The reasons?

(1) They're the closest to overage, probably more likely to want to get out there and go clubbing.

(2) They've probably got more disposable income than those younger than them.

(3) They probably are more likely to have parental permission to go out, where applicable.

With this new target audience, I had a problem. The Grade 11's and 12's had finished highschool for the year (school year running approx Feb to November in Australia).

This meant that they're very hard to target with advertising. With advertising, I wanted it to be both (1) low cost and (2) very targetted. The more targetted it is, the more valuable is each dollar you spend on it. You want to market with a sniper rifle, not a shotgun, so to speak.

And for such events, marketing is *everything*. It's your marketing and promotion that makes people go along on the night, not the actual quality of the event. They don't know the quality of the event until they get there. So although quality is important for having a good night and for future events, marketing is king for getting people the first time.

So, how do you get 5000 underage people to an event?

It's a big task.

Originally my thought was to have an army of promoters working throughout Melbourne on commission, whereby the passes they handed out gave the recipient discounted entry and were marked with the promoter's symbol or number so that payment could be worked out later.

This is often used to promote nightclubs, and can be okay, but can be costly. I visited a company that designs & prints such passes to get estimates.

The other problem with this main strategy, which struck me later, was that it was treating this event as a nightclub night, where people mainly bought tickets at the door.

School socials and the like however, are more like events, where people buy tickets in advance.

Now, with the previous system where people bought tickets at the door, I took on considerable risk. There was no guarantee anybody would come on the night, so if nobody showed up, I would suddenly realise that I had lost $10,000.

Arranging it so tickets were mostly bought beforehand would allow me to have an indication of the turnout, and if it was low I could cut my losses and cancel the event.

But in any case, with most Grade 11 and 12's gone, and a marketing plan involving schools (more below), I then decided to postpone this event until early next year.

My new plan is to contact a lot of schools and/or student representative councils and tell them about this big drug & alcohol-free event, and ask them to mention it in their bulletins.

And for any tickets sold, we'll donate $2 to the school.

So basically it's like the promoter idea except that schools do it, which is sniper-rifle-like marketing, and we pay them a bit more than we were going to pay promoters. Plus tickets are bought upfront.

My expectation is some schools will say no to the idea, and some will say yes. To those that say no, I might approach their student representative councils.

Beforehand I'll seek sponsorship from something like the anti-alcohol council of Australia in order to make the event look more "clean", as I expect this would be a major consideration for schools.

Then after I have a list of schools that agree, I'll approach companies for corporate sponsorship for some additional revenue.

But that's the current plan regarding that idea. So, perhaps I'll write another update in April or May next year around the time I'm doing more of this planning!



- and sorry for the very unstructured nature of this piece of rambling. :)

Dien Rice November 24, 2000 11:47 AM

Get the right information and find admiration....
Hi Thomas,

That's an inspiring story.... Thanks for posting it. You have my respect (and not just because you're my younger brother)... :)

It shows the value of getting out there and doing things, of calling up people and finding out information, and having the nerve, the gall, the chutzpah to just get out and start doing it....

It also shows the value of information.... In fact, you can usually find out what you need to know if you call the right people. If you are planning to spend some money with them, people are happy to tell you how to do things if you haven't done it before.... Your suppliers are your friends....

And if you really do something successful, then you'll find many people around you will admire you.... especially if you post about it here. :)

Thanks Thomas.... You're a great example to learn from.... :)

Dien Rice

P.S. If you didn't read the posts about the Money Game, click on the link below for part 1!

How to turn $10,000 into a LOT more.... in 2 1/2 days!

Julie Jordan Scott November 24, 2000 10:42 PM

Re: The HUGE underage dance party I have planned!
Hi Thomas!

Sounds like you have done a LOT of work on this project. Bravo for you!

I especially appreciate the pre-planning and fact finding you have done for your event. Another winning factor is partnering with Schools in a WIN-WIN situation. Always a winner.

I remember when I was 18 and could go to some clubs that allowed those who were 18-21 in, but your hand was stamped, identifying you as a "Non-Drinker". It was quite a thrill for me AND I imagine, as a mother, my mom would have rather not had me there with people who were drinking (and doing who knows what else!)

How many people are there in the age group you are targeting? That struck me as I was reading. I have no concept of how many people live in Melbourne (you know how we Yanks are, unfortunately do not have a huge sense of details about other countries.....).

You apologized for rambling, which I think is a good thing! Surprising discoveries are frequently found in ramblings that would never be uncovered otherwise.

Thanks for updating us, Thomas!


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