Friday, June 11, 2010
TEN MORE ROOMS + NEWS
I heard from Jessica today and she said she would add another 10 rooms for the Chess Clinic crowd (#6) at the Clarion Hotel. Thanks Jessica.
Time to put your "thinking hat" on. Naturally all those who have registered for the Clinic (not the rooms) are from out of town so far (Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Iowa and New Jersey.) The locals generally wait until the last minute. I am trying to figure out HOW I can get people to register early and the only thing I can think of is to RAISE the registration fee to $200 and thus offer bigger discounts for early registration.
I know of a group I belong to who have registrations between $2000 and $3000 each year for their three day event with 4-6 established and incredible speakers but who offer like $1000 discount if you register early. It must work (of course there are reminders) because they fill the hall of 800 registrants every year! (Invariably they end up turning people away.) I have yet to make it to one of these events due to lack of funds, but no one has ever told me they wouldn't come to my events because of the CO$T.
$50 isn't much of a discount to many people these days even for chess tournaments as the number of people who show up at chess tournaments at the last minute each year testify. $1000 is the new $15 savings (wow, what a steep increase!). The biggest expense for many is the cost of travel and lodging. It's ironic that rooms can cost $100 on up and you are asleep most of the time (haha). This event is $150 and there is about 9 hours of good stuff!
Last night I asked a friend if he was coming to the Clinic and he said "probably." I asked him if the registration fee was $50 would he sign up right now and he jumped and said "Yes." In other words, if I make the fee low enough, so that I lose money but that they get the bargain, I could probably get 100-200 people to show up. I'd also have to get a bigger room, more chess sets, help, and then all my costs skyrocket and the $50 fee is a mere joke on myself. I would have to sell a TON of chess merchandise (if those who come don't already own most of it) or have huge after sales (sales afterward drop actually).
So every time I do this I go through with this arithmetical and mental battle. In other words, make the fee low enough and people CAN make a decision. Make it high enough and they postpone (the fee this time represents a few hours of work for most people) it.
Here's another idea: premiums and why they don't usually work for me. If I offer, let's say, a copy of Rybka 4 for early registrants, say to the first 20, those who have already registered will end up getting most of them and the person at the other end will think, "There's no point in trying, they are probably all gone." So they won't come because they feel screwed for not getting something they haven't even put one cent down for. (Besides, the cost of Rybka wipes out any profit I would make.)
So here are some things I have thought about in the past:
a. An appearance by Kasparov or Anand. Registration would be $500, few would come.
b. $50 reg. fee. So many would come I would have to move the site and expenses increase.
c. Put the event in Chicago to get a bigger turn out. While this is most likely true, my expense of promoting, going to and staying in Chicago, would dwarf the amounts made. Besides there is NO proof this would work, just a surmise. And in Chicago you have the problem of getting the word out to the clubs, news organizations, and the "right" people (or else they won't do anything for you).
d. Get a talent who is worth seeing and hearing and fun to boot. I have done that, Andrew Martin--tried, true, and tested. Almost everyone knows who he is and few have seen him in person. His books and DVDs speak for themselves.
e. Gifts and coupons as well as PDFs to go only to those who register early. How early is early?
f. Have a tournament at faster time controls. This is being thought about for some future event, not a clinic--maybe an openings workshop. I know Clinic/Festival people who will not play in a tournament. My events are about learning and having a good time, not ego or disappointment. (An example: A friend of mine lost last week to a USCF rated Expert. He didn't play well. So this week he played another strong player and lost again. We looked at his game. He missed a killer and obvious move. In fact, he missed several strong moves because his mind was trapped into thinking a certain way. I detected a number of "weaknesses" in his "chessic attitude." Two of them I told him about previously and he has yet to correct them. That's the price one pays for "ego" or "the stubborness" of not thinking at the board. He had the advantage and somehow thought the game would play itself to a win. Purdy, and many others after him, have said it a 100 times: When you are winning, play good moves, not necessarily moves to win more material. Andrew Martin says it on all of his DVDs. FEAR is a major component of losing!)
I think what I will do is increase the cost of the Clinic to $200 with bigger reductions the sooner people register. Those who have already registered will be happy about that. It will slow down AT THE DOOR people who show up and throw everything into disarray!
In the meantime the only action I am taking is to see what YOU think and if you have any workable solutions. I look forward to hearing from you. Many people read this blog but only a few participate, so here's your chance as to how YOU might do it.