I also stress to my teams and staff the importance of being a good host and handling ourselves well. If people come and don't have a good experience they won't come back.
Running a successful volleyball tournament can be a great asset for a club, however it's important to make sure you do your homework prior to jumping into the tournament landscape. With the number of events being offered not every event is guaranteed to be successful.
Here are 3 events I currently manage.
1. Winter Bump Volleyball Classic
MLK weekend 3-day tournament
Myrtle Beach and Spartanburg, SC
347 teams in 2018
2. Dixie Classic
March 24/25, 2018
Part of the JVA Challenge Series
Spartanburg, SC and Hendersonville, NC
175 Teams in 2017
3. Coastal Classic Volleyball Championships
June 3/4, 2018
AAU Super Regional
Myrtle Beach, SC
120 Teams in 2017
Before creating a new event, I first identified that there was a need for the event. Next I imade sure to establish relationship and build rapport. And finally I established a team of people to help support the event. Let's look at each step in more detail.
1) Identify a need
All of the events we host were created because we had a need in our schedule, and we recognized that other clubs did as well. We immediately communicated with the other clubs to see if they would benefit from a new event. It's important not to assume that because you create an event teams will come.
The only MLK tournaments we could attend at the time were in Atlanta or Richmond, both 6 hours away and 12 hours apart. Myrtle Beach was ideally located to take advantage of the void. We moved a smaller event we had been hosting to MLK weekend and leased our Convention Center that could accommodate 16 Courts. We filled the 128 team capacity our very first year. A few years later we added Charleston Convention Center with 12 Courts. When Myrtle Beach built a new 16 court Sports Center it gave us 32 courts in Myrtle Beach, so we moved out of Charleston. Now we use the Upward Star Center in Spartanburg, SC., so we have a total of 44 courts and over 340 teams attending every year.
The Dixie Classic and Coastal Classic were also created because of the need in the region schedule. If a current event is filling up and has to turn away teams it is also a sign that there is a need for a new tournament.
2) Establish credibility and relationships with peers
With the number of events being offered it is more important than ever to have credibility among your peers and a positive relationship with multiple clubs. I appreciate the work that club directors do and try and get to know as many as possible. Without them our events don't happen. I also stress to my teams and staff the importance of being a good host and handling ourselves well. If people come and don't have a good experience they won't come back.
As hosts we make ourselves available to the teams coming in. I always answer the emails and return the calls. We've also made the decision to offer a great value to teams. Our entry is the lowest of any 3-day event ($500) and the majority of hotels in the area are under $75 that time of year. We provide housing assistance but honor the JVA tournament recommendation of not enforcing a "stay to play" policy so teams can pick the accommodations that are best for them. We receive a lot of positive feedback on our housing policy.
We could easily charge more but I'm excited to know a club can enter all their teams and save $200-$300 dollars per team entry. That money can be put directly back into their club.
In addition, we have a great network of clubs who also run events that we support. We want them to succeed as well. By working together, we make sure each other host successful events.
3) Build a team
It takes a great deal of behind the scenes work to pull off an event. It's important to make sure you have the support staff in place in advance. Data entry, officials, awards, ticket sales, apparel sales, and court set up, are just a few of the components that need to be planned. Reach out to others who run events, and recruit them to help you run yours.
I needed advice when I planned a first year event, and I have spent several hours on the phone with others who want to run events. Paying it back is important.
Running the three events is something I spend time on year round, keeping a check list ensures that I have everything covered.
Here is a sample check list:
Facility contract: In place (8-12 months in advance)
Event promotion: (AES, JVA, or AAU listing getting the word out before the start of club season)
Event Website: Prior to the club season
Housing: Event hotel or other hotel options for teams. This can be a source of revenue if you request a rebate for rooms booked and comp rooms for staff.
Paid staff in place: (Data entry, gym supervisors, retail manager, official assignor, and ticket manager in place as far out as possible)
Coordinate Volunteers: Start the process early and be extremely organized. Be prepared for a few no-shows and cancellations. (ticket sales, shirt sales, door entry, court set-up and take down, coaches check in)
Awards/gifts: (shirts, medals, bag tags ordered 2-3 weeks in advance)
Event shirts: (for resale) ordered 3 weeks out
Court Rental: Contract with rental company in place 6 months out (if needed)
Officials Assignor: Start organizing officials 3-4 months minimum before your event. Seek out a knowledgeable official who is familiar with the process.
These tips should help you get started and determine if running an event is right for your club. Once your event is a go be sure you have the necessary sanction in place. The JVA provides great resources and offers event insurance to cover your teams and facilities. The JVA website also includes a tournament listing to promote events around the country.