Are you interested in becoming an organizer of Go tournaments?
Great! Big thanks from the community of Go players and... good luck in your new business :-)
What kind of challenges are waiting for a Go tournament's organizer?
1. You might face some costs, e.g. renting the playing halls, marketing of the tournament or buying Go equipment.
2. You might also need to spend some time, e.g. finding the venue, finding sponsors, finding teachers, promoting the tournament, running the pre-registration online, scheduling the rounds, communicating with potential participants before the tournament, finding and setting up the Go equipment, helping with accommodation of the players, helping with finding places to eat, organizing side events, being on site during the tournament, learning to use the pairing programs (e.g. Leago, MacMahon or OpenGotha), cleaning the venue and making financial budgets and summaries.
It might look scary, but after reading the tips below, you should be able to organize your tournament without a huge budget and with some financial profit at the end.
How to lower the costs of a Go tournament?
Problem 1. After asking a few hotels for renting conference rooms to organize there a tournament you might realize that these renting costs might be very high.
Solution 1. You can try to find some space in buildings owned by local governments free of charge (in exchange for being a sponsor of the tournament).
In the opposite to the private companies, the goal of local governments is usually different than making money (which they get anyway from taxes), but instead they would rather show to their potential voters that they help in local initiatives.
Problem 2. After asking a few web developers about creating a dedicated website for a tournament, the costs might take a big part of your budget.
Solution 2. When you start organizing Go tournaments most likely you won’t need to have a dedicated website for your tournament (a Facebook event might be enough).
Problem 3. After asking a few shops or wholesalers about the costs of Go equipment, it might turn out that you will need a big investment for buying a sufficient number of Go sets.
Solution 3. You can ask your country’s Go organizations (federations/associations) if they could rent the Go equipment free of charge or for the cost of its transportation (in exchange for being a sponsor of the tournament).
If there are no Go federations/associations in your country, you can ask those of neighbouring countries. Even though the international transportation is going to cost more than the local one, still it should cost way less than buying a lot of boards, stones, gosu (containers for stones) and clocks.
Of course Go sets are not single-use products, but if this is your first tournament, better to first test yourself as the organizer without the risk of spending a huge budget and having then a lot of Go equipment stored in your grandparents’ house.
How to get a sponsorship for your Go tournament?
The sponsorship from public organizations (i.e. local government, country's Go organizations) is usually used for lowering costs of your tournament. However, there might also be a private sponsorship, which gives you some additional value.
For private sponsorship, first think for whom the target group (participants of your tournament) might be the most valuable.
1. Of course the first idea might be Go-related businesses, e.g. shops or our platform to connect students with Go teachers.
The Go audience is still relatively small in the western countries and so are the marketing budgets of these companies. So, it might be very difficult to convince any Go-related business to give a lot of cash as a sponsorship of a tournament. But it might be possible to get some small sponsorship like discounts or vouchers for their products or services, which could be given e.g. as prizes to the “small winners” of your tournament (e.g. best youth player, best double-digit kyu, winners of 4 games out of 5).
If you are looking for a sponsorship from polgote - even though we wouldn’t be interested in sponsoring your event by sending you cash or vouchers for winners, sometimes we can accept covering the costs of hiring a camera man and a video editor for your event.
This way you would have a good quality promotional video from your tournament, which you would be able to show to the potential sponsors of the next edition of your tournament.
2. Learn what are the skills of participants of your tournament (you can simply ask your potential participants about their job and skills).
If you know that among participants of your tournament there is going to be a big part of people with specific skills (e.g. web developers or AI experts), find companies who could be interested in hiring them.
Human Resources departments sometimes can afford covering big costs of hiring new employees.
You can offer them having a stand during your tournament, where they could speak with their potential future employees.
And in return you can ask them for cash.
How much to ask the potential sponsors of a Go tournament for?
The sponsors need to understand that they are getting more profits than costs.
If you aren’t working in a company which you try to get the sponsorship from, it might be nearly impossible to get to know how much they are currently paying for getting leads or for hiring someone. However, it might be possible to check some benchmarks.
After writing in Google "cost per lead benchmark [industry] [country]", you can try to check roughly how much it can be.
You can also read an Eventbrite article to find out how to calculate the value you offer for your potential sponsors.
Keep in mind that the costs of the sponsor are the money they pay to you and also the money they pay to send someone from their company to the tournament (e.g. salary, transportation, accommodation, allowance).
3. Learn what the participants of your tournament could pay big money for.
For example, if you know that in your tournament will take part many children (who will come to the tournament with their parents), you can ask some good private schools for their money in return for having a stand at your tournament.
Parents who help their children study Go (and even go with them for Go tournaments) are interested in developing their children, so there is a big chance they would also like to provide their kids with a better quality education in general.
Such parents seem to be a perfect target audience for private schools.
How to get some additional money from the participants of your Go tournament?
1. If you know that a big part of your potential participants would come from some other city/country, it might be more difficult to convince potential local sponsors to be the sponsors of such a tournament.
However, in such case, feel free to make the entry fee more expensive. The majority of costs for people from abroad are usually the accommodation and transportation, so even if the entry fee is high, it would most likely be only a small part of their total budget to attend your tournament.
2. You can tell a few hotels/hostels and restaurants that you are wondering about organizing a Go tournament nearby and you can ask them about the discounts, which they could offer for bulk orders.
Then you can e.g. take half of the discounted value for yourself and offer the other half for the participants.
Let’s say you negotiated a 30% discount from a restaurant. You take 15% for yourself and tell the participants that if they order food (and pay for it) during the pre-registration of your tournament the price will be 15% lower than if they ordered it later.
At the end everyone is happy:
Hotel/hostel/restaurant is happy, because they have many orders.
Participants of your tournament are happy, because they pay less.
You are happy, because you have some additional money.
How to get some extras for free or at low cost?
You can call brands producing beverages, tell them about your tournament and ask if they could offer their products for your tournament free of charge (in exchange for being a sponsor of the tournament). It might be very difficult to get any financial help from this kind of "mainstream" sponsors, but as their products are usually quite cheap and their income depends on regular customers, they should be rather happy to offer you samples of their products. So, it shouldn’t be a big problem to get a few packages of coffee, tea, juice or any other beverage.
You can also call other brands who produce snacks. These products are usually a bit more expensive than beverages, so it might be a little bit more difficult to get their sponsorship (samples of their products), but still it should be possible.
How to spent less time for organizing a Go tournament?
Organize it again!
The first tournament should take the most of your time. For the next editions, you can simply copy many things.
Also, after organizing a tournament, you should already have some connections with other businesses. You can reach out to the same potential sponsors (if they were satisfied with your previous tournament, they should be happy to sponsor the next one, too).
How to make more use of your efforts?
Invite local media!
The sponsors should be happy if they get some extra visibility in media and even if you didn’t promise them any media exposure, you should definitely try to get some reporters for the tournament, because they would generate an extra value for your sponsors. This way you help your sponsors more, so they should be more interested in sponsoring your future tournaments.
But remember to tell your sponsors after the tournament where were the mentions of the tournament and of their brands.
The next benefit of showing your tournament in media is that you promote your tournament this way. Even though nobody who sees a news after the tournament, will take part in it (the tournament is already over), the readers/viewers can get interested in Go and maybe even take part in the next edition of your tournament.
And the media - they live from selling news, some should be interested in visiting your tournament.