Hosting a local tournament can be profitable and be a publicity boost for your school. To maximize your event, you’ll need to exploit modern methods. Fresh technologies like Cloud-based enterprises, social media and smartphones have put a high-tech spin on staging competitions nowadays. Applying the knowledge in this article, shared by a veteran promoter, can ensure that your local tournaments run smoother, attract more participants and increase revenues.
After two generations of family experience, Bill Viola Jr. knows the ins and outs of hosting a tournament. His father opened one of Pittsburgh’s first martial arts schools, Allegheny Shotokan, in 1969. As a tournament promoter, the Heinz History Center — in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute — credits Bill Viola, Sr. with also being the co-creator of mixed martial arts fighting a decade before the UFC arrived.
Viola feels he started “ahead of the game” because his father built a successful school. When it came to tournaments, he learned how to properly and profitably make use of “dojo assets,” beginning with the student base.
“His student base was a safety net because they supported my first tournament,” he says.
Viola says to network your base and check all regional martial arts events’ dates to be sure you’re clear with no conflicts. Viola prefers open tournaments as opposed to invitational “style-exclusive” ones, because the potential public response is correspondingly larger.
When it comes to tournaments, you’ll want to make sure you’re protected. As a promoter, what you especially need to do is to not leave yourself open to liabilities of any kind, according to Viola. Tailor your insurance coverage to the possibilities. General liability might cover a spectator who falls off the bleachers and breaks an arm. But you also need to be covered for “athletic participation,” too, for Johnny’s bloody nose after his match.
“Standard of care” insurance guidelines specify what you must require to be in compliance. These include good mats and safety equipment. Today, you must have all the equipment, including boots, cups, gloves, head gear, face shields and chest protectors. Recommend competitors bring and wear all their gear.
He says always have competitor’s sign waivers of liability and photo release waivers. When it comes to the gym get everything in writing and generate a contract. Inside, Viola says the event must be clearly marked with basic signage to establish where registration and pre-registration are. The alternative is confused and angry competitors waiting in the wrong lines. Keep the lines in a row, and produce a good experience right from the very beginning.
When it comes to advance publicity, think social media. Creating new websites turns out to be a waste, Viola assures us. Instead, put up a new Facebook page to publicize events and to invite other people from outside your student base. This page should be separate from your school’s site. Include online your tournament rules and a flier made into a pdf file to be downloaded from Facebook or your school website.
Create local buzz by donating small part of proceeds to a local charity. Have competitors bring nonperishable food items to be donated to your local food bank.
“Take good care of the people who take care of you,” Viola says. “No tournament can survive without volunteers to act as scorekeepers, judges and announcers. Have a lunch prepared for them and don’t just offer them a bottle of water. (But do provide water, too, to keep the volunteers hydrated and comfortable.) And, of course, you want to present each person with an event t-shirt.”
You must book your Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) medic and have him/her on hand a half hour before your event begins. Not having a medic present is asking for a disaster to strike.
Viola stresses that every little thing matters. For example, always have a barrier placed between the competition floor and the spectators. This doesn’t need to be any fancier than Home Depot caution tape strung between folding chairs.
Local tournaments eventually becoming regional traditions are a difficult goal to achieve but not impossible. Viola points out that only a handful in Pittsburgh have stood the test of time.
Obviously, you must have a good product, good business sense and good management. He urges promoters to take the seminars, work in other people’s tournaments and learn the ins-and-outs.
Only you can prove what you can do. Flops happen, but great success is doable. You can corner the regional market if you consistently hold successful competitions.
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