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Discussion: your entry fees at work....

in: PG; PG > 2009-03-22

Mar 23, 2009 12:19 AM # 
eddie:
prize money for a photo contest. There are also 3 meet HQ hotel rooms budgeted for volunteers (down from 10 originally budgeted!), at over $100/night each. Beds in local folks' houses has been offered, but no takers. The meet HQ hotel itself is 25 mins away. Anyways, these are the two glaring, non-orienteering related budget items that inflated the meet fees. There were some other things like hundreds of $ for trash removal each day which I think were dropped, but is been a while since that original budget was made.
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Mar 23, 2009 3:08 PM # 
jtorranc:
I'm not intimately involved in the details of this but my understanding from the discussion at QOC BOD meetings was paying for trash removal was mandatory as a condition of land use and I have no reason to believe that's changed. I know nothing about offers of beds locally but I object to the idea that having some number of volunteers staying close by isn't orienteering-related - imagine half the essential meet personnel getting stuck in traffic early in the morning on the way to the event. Admittedly, this is less of a risk, absent almost everyone being separated from the event by a long drive on I-95, for this event than it was for the 2007 US Champs, so the initial budget assumption that we'd need a similar number of rooms was way too crude.

As to the photo contest, sure, it's a bit frilly. But I believe we did something similar in 2007 - presumably it was popular enough it seemed worth doing again.
Mar 23, 2009 3:18 PM # 
ebuckley:
I'm wondering how many people stress over whether their favorite grocery store is spending too much on a condiment they never buy and thereby inflating the prices of things on the shopping list. Disclosure of budgets for the sake of learning what works and what doesn't is beneficial, but if these discussions start turning into budgetary witch hunts our tiny pool of A-meet directors will be made all the smaller.

Let the club put on a meet, set the prices where the margin is acceptable, and let the market decide.
Mar 23, 2009 4:39 PM # 
eddie:
I'm investing my own time and effort heavily in this meet, so I do feel that I can have a say about how the money is being spent. Prize money for a photo contest should not be passed on to competitors at an orienteering meet via entry fees. The prize money was originally much larger than the sums listed here. If you are going to offer cash prizes at an orienteering meet, give them to the best ORIENTEERS. I like photography as much as the next guy, and I have no problem with QOC offering prize money for a photo contest. I do object to that money being a line item in the meet budget and adding to the registration fees. And regarding meet workers needing to stay close, my point here is that anyone who feels they need to stay closer for whatever reason certainly can, however Ted Good has offered fine rooms (for free) in his own home, which is just as close as the meet HQ, and not a single QOC member has taken him up on the offer. There are also much less expensive major chain hotels even closer to the meet site than the Staybridge Suites meet HQ. The meet HQ hotel is still 25 mins away from the meet site. My point is that, yes, sometimes its easier to just say we're going to spend money on hotels for convenience, but a little flexibility and volunteer effort like Ted's can save quite alot of money, and that's simply not being utilized here. QOC has plenty of its own budget to cover niceties and there is no reason to inflate meet fees artificially to cover these costs claiming that this is "just what it costs to put on meets these days."

Regarding trash removal, I haven't heard anything on this in some time, but the Saturday meet is being staged entirely from private property. I know that the landowners are indeed being paid a modest use fee, but its not "$200 for trash removal." DNR may be charging some sort of use fee for the other 2 days, but I'm not aware of it being labeled generically as trash removal.

As I've mentioned before, a large component of the cost of a typical A-meet is production of the map itself. Ted, John (and others) have donated ALL of this cost (other than the hard printing itself) for this meet. This is an enormous savings to the club, and it should be passed on to the competitors. There is simply no reason why the fees for this meet should have been so high to begin with. It does not reflect any "new reality" about the cost of hosting an A-meet.
Mar 23, 2009 6:08 PM # 
jtorranc:
"however Ted Good has offered fine rooms (for free) in his own home, which is just as close as the meet HQ"

I wasn't aware of that. If the core volunteers aren't going for it, maybe I'll take him up on it for Saturday night. However, unless Ted has moved recently, it isn't remotely accurate to say his place is just as close to the event as the meet HQ. Ted's appears to be not quite twice as far away as the crow flies when I look at Google maps.

I don't want to debate this at length, partly because I'm not up to speed on the current financial details and partly because I agree with Eric that clubs shouldn't generally be subject to inquisitions into the level of their meet fees, but I would like to point out that we didn't know months ago how many people would sign up. Unless you'd have organisers adopt a system of meet fees in which they give everyone cash refunds at the meet if registration ends up exceeding the break even point by some set amount, avoiding running A meets other than the major championships at a loss requires a certain amount of conservatism in setting the fees.
Mar 23, 2009 6:33 PM # 
feet:
I also don't really understand why people are offended by this. If QOC is offering something I want at a price I can deal with, then I'll buy it. If QOC is doing that by being nice to its volunteers and giving them something they value (accommodation), then great. If it's doing it by using goodwill from people like eddie that will not be forthcoming in the future because of their policies, then bad. Either way, not my problem as the competitor. If QOC makes stupid decisions that lead to their meets either sucking or being more expensive than they should be, then I won't be back. So far, they haven't done that, so I will be.

If the donation of map costs is not ongoing for all future maps, then actually QOC would be silly, imho, to reduce the price for competitors. Rather, use the money to hold another A meet, or map another area, or do something useful. Think of this as a windfall. Somebody (in this case the map donors) gives QOC a five figure sum (in this case, in kind, but in any case, saving a large amount of money for the club). What do you do with it? Cutting entry fees for this A meet is one option, but there are a bunch of others (eg, paying for another map using the money raised this time so you can hold another A meet in the future...). Now, if the map donors are not happy with this, then you had better take notice, but otherwise, I don't see why you should lower meet fees just because.
Mar 23, 2009 6:48 PM # 
eddie:
He's not twice as far time-wise. Its all a matter of traffic. Rte 100 is rarely a problem, and Ted is farther SE along that line. I believe Ted said 40 mins is typical for him. I'm farther away than both distance-wise, but I can get there in 35 mins via the Baltimore beltway (my record is 33 mins to the day 2 finish). It will probably take me longer on Friday morning in rush-hour traffic, so I will plan accordingly. Its impossible to go anywhere in the area as the crow flies, unless you're a crow. The difference in distance hardly justifies not taking up his offer.

Not knowing how many entries you'll have is always the case - always has been the case - and to my knowledge, no club I know has taken a loss on an A-meet with existing average meet fees and the typical ranges of attendance. The last SVO A-meet (2003) was done on offset printed maps (with some courses offset overprinted). We had an attendance of about 225, I think our fee was $20-23/day - total income was in the $5000-$7000 range, and we cleared at least $1500 after expenses (including only the maps used and margin/waste). We had a bus one day, but no epunching. It was not a championship event. [ed. Sorry, we did indeed have e-punching, thanks to Valerie and Sandy]

The budget for the Granite meet is much larger than that. Registered attendance is at about 340 now. Would it have been higher if the fees were $3 less? Would it have been lower if the fees were (as originally proposed) $3 more? Are the expenses really as high as the computed income here? Its hard to imagine that they are, but there is still talk about just breaking even. Less than a handfull of members of my own club are going to this meet despite the fact that its less than a 2 hour drive from all of them. They can go to our high-quality local meets for $4 a pop, so why shell out the non-USOF $28/day to go to this one? Its a hard sell for me to make to them.
Mar 23, 2009 6:59 PM # 
eddie:
But we're not talking about lowering meet fees. We're talking about raising meet fees. $25/day (USOF, early dealine) is higher than the going average. With lower expenses, the least they could do is go with average fees.

My biggest concern is getting people to attend. Attendance, attendance, attendance. Yes, you can tell people to vote with their feet, and some might, leaving behind what could even be a sustainable number of competitors. But you've gentrified the field. Now the field is limited to only those who can afford (or feel they can afford) to attend.

This is a sore spot for me. My favorite sport used to be downhill skiing. Over the past decade, the cost of lift tickets has quadrupled (for a variety of reasons - I read an interesting study on this recently which I can't find at the moment). I can no longer afford to participate in that sport. Its a real shame, because I really loved it. I truly did. Now I have a closet full of rusting equipment that I can't afford to use. And it would absolutely kill me if I was forced to stop orienteering because of the price. I make a decent salary and could absorb some increase, but if I think its unreasonably priced I'll just have to stop. Other things (like buying a house) will become more important to me. If that's the way US orienteering wants to go, I guess it will go that way with or without me.
Mar 23, 2009 7:41 PM # 
j-man:
I don't think the long run equilibrium for orienteering pricing is going to drive it to be more like skiing. I could be wrong, but I think the essence of the sport and current and potential demographics would not support that.

Anyway, 340 people seems like a lot, i.e., more than cheaper meets. Maybe orienteering is actually a Giffen good and QOC should get mad props for being the first to figure this out.
Mar 23, 2009 7:53 PM # 
Joe:
you might want to carry this thread over to the event page.
Mar 23, 2009 10:03 PM # 
feet:
I think it's amusing that it's on a PG training entry saying 'I'm not stressed any more.' It's as if eddie didn't like to hear that. If eddie was a bit slower I'd think it was trash-talking.
Mar 23, 2009 10:14 PM # 
eddie:
Just a response to a March 3 request
Mar 23, 2009 10:21 PM # 
jjcote:
PG, of course, is not even going to the meet.
Mar 23, 2009 10:54 PM # 
PG:
I'm not going because back when the entry deadline was, I didn't know how much/well I'd be running by this weekend, and I wasn't going to spring for a plane ticket and show up and DNS/DNF. Did that enough in 2006.

I still think both my March 3 questions are reasonable. Wouldn't you think a federation of clubs might want to learn from each other about (1) how to generate revenue for the club (and how to spend it), and (2) how to work the finances for an A meet? We seem to manage to give each other ideas about training and other aspects of life quite willingly. But somehow the sharing of ideas about club finances seems to hit a nerve.

Oh, well.

And stressed? Not so much, but I will admit to a fair bit of stress when I lost communication with my MoboGoGlobo partner yesterday.

This discussion thread is closed.