It's important that your registration system runs smoothly prior to the tournament. It is also a complex task.
These days, registration for the World Championships is almost always done via a dedicated website. This enables people to provide all of the important information in one go, and at your end it means that information can be collated very easily (possibly automatically) from a central source. Judges will also need to provide information on their prior experience. If this can be integrated with the main registration system, so much the better.
If none of this is possible, you'll need a system of 'old-fashioned' manual form-filling, though presumably the forms will still be distributed and collected via e-mail. In this case, it is recommended that you ask each country's Team Manager to provide one set of forms for all attendees; otherwise you will be receiving up to 300 separate e-mails for registration.
Either way, you need at least the following information for each individual:
- Full name
- Address, telephone/fax number(s), e-mail address
- Date of birth
- Country represented (not always obvious - perhaps a Singaporean judge is living in the United States)
- Status (i.e. debater, coach, judge or observer)
- Room requirement (double or single)
- Dietary requirements
- Medical requirements
As you receive registrations, you can start to build various useful lists or spreadsheets, e.g. an accommodation allocation table, and a pooled list of dietary requirements.
Collecting registration feesEdit
Advice on setting the level of registration fees is covered under the section on projected income.
Collection of registration need not be done at the same time as registration; in fact, this is positively ill-advised if you are looking to get people registered early. You might want to ask for an up-front deposit on registration fees, but please note that the phrase "non-refundable" might make people run a mile. It's important to balance your immediate budgetary needs with an awareness that most of the organisations which arrange for teams to attend the Worlds are not rich.
That said, you do need to set a deadline for payment of fees. A recommended time would be about a month prior to the tournament, as this allows you enough time to chase up stragglers. Make people aware early in the process that this deadline is final: those who are late might be subject to additional fees; and those who cannot pay in advance of the event, without good reason, should not expect to be included on the final roster of participants.
Traditionally, fees are collected via international bank transfer. More recently, some convenors have used credit card payment or secure on-line systems such as PayPal. Whichever you choose, you need to make participants aware that they are liable for all fees involved in payment; these vary from country to country, but losing 1,000 dollars of your budget is not inconceivable if you covered everyone's fees yourself.
Inviting countries to competeEdit
You will doubtless have provided some sort of presentation at the previous year's World Championships, and perhaps have signed up eager participants on the spot. Even if not, the alumni system and mailing list provided by the WSDC website will give you access to many countries. However, this body of existing contacts is not really sufficient if the competition is to continue developing each year.
The competition has grown from six countries in 1988 to 36 in Wales in 2006. In all, nearly 50 countries have participated at one time or other, but some have dropped out of the competition for different reasons, usually financial, occasionally political. There is a solid core of countries, notably the British nations, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, Canada and the USA, who can generally be counted on to enter the competition year after year. Many other countries have become regulars by now, but at least for some of them, there is a yearly financial struggle. Obviously the location of the competition and the costs involved are one of the factors.
It is the job of the Convenor to attempt to interest new countries to join the competition, as well as to try to help countries for whom the financial burden is too great. Countries who regularly debate within their educational system but have never been to the competition (or no more than once or twice) include India, Cyprus, Jordan, Turkey, Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica and Uganda. A special effort should be made to try and recruit such countries.
Some countries, especially in the former Soviet Union, will require you to provide an official invitation. Bear in mind, also, that some countries have fairly stringent visa requirements for visitors from other countries. You should be prepared to provide advice on this, including relating to the problem of stopovers. Some countries will demand a visa even for transit stops. Your foreign ministry should be able to advise on current visa requirements. This should not be left to the last minute: in the past we have had examples of teams who failed to arrive because of unexpected visa problems. Local embassies might be helpful in this regard.
Some Convenors have also asked participants to sign a disclaimer. WSDC requires each participant to sign a Code of Conduct prior to the championship. For debaters, a parent or guardian must sign the Code of Conduct as well. For more on that, see Code of Conduct and complaints.