There are two main venues that the State Scholastic can use.
Hotel – Can use one hotel that has a lot of ballroom space or can use several hotels that are next to each other. It is also possible to split the events into two separate weekends and in the same or different cities. Note that this split option has yet to be used. An examples of a hotel tournament was the 2003 State Scholastic held at the Hyatt Regency Reunion in Dallas.
Convention Center – Can use a convention center that has nearby hotel(s). An example of a convention center tournament was the 2002 State Scholastic held at the Bayfront Plaza Convention Center in Corpus Christi.
There are some advantages and disadvantages inherent with these either venue types.
Pro: A hotel venue can yield free space. Most hotels will trade hotel space for hotel rooms nights and for the food and beverage that is sold to feed the tournament staff. (Corpus also fed the coaches at the TCA Business meeting.) Hotels can provide some free sleeping rooms for the staff.
Con: If the tournament does not sell the room block, then the
attrition and sliding scale charges can be quite high. Cancellation
penalties at hotels can also be quite high.
Convention Center Venue
Pro: These can have plenty more space for the tournament than a hotel venue. The price can be fixed at a known rate. Many convention centers have a lower nonprofit rate. Hotel rebates can be used to help pay for the space. Convention Centers are more likely to allow the use of outside food vendors. These can lead to savings in food and beverage for the tournament staff.
Con: Chess parents are smart. They will go around the room blocks. This means that you may not get many room rebates and that the space will not be free. Convention center housing bureaus are many times not structured to deal with attendees who go around them. An alternative is making individual deals with hotels. This is more work and more financial risk, as hotels will not block out their rooms without compensation if the rooms are not sold. Depending on the distance from the hotels to the Convention Center, the organizer may have to provide transportation to and from the hotels to the convention center. Some convention centers have table and chair rental fees.
Guidelines for Hotel Venues
Anticipate Attendance: 1300-1900 kids, 800-1500 accompanying adults.
Time of year: March, spring break is customary but not required.
At least 39,000 sq. ft. of main playing area. (This may be more than one room.)
At least 12,000 sq. ft. of secondary hall for casual play, exhibits and adult waiting. (This may be slightly less if either there are exceptionally big foyer areas or if bleachers are provided for the parents.)
At least a 1,000 sq ft staff room. This can also double as the staff feeding room. A good size computer room. If the tournament is on various floors, then more than one computer room may be used. Room should have power outlet and phone(s). Internet connection is desirable.
At least 1,000 sq. ft. for the book vendor. This may be more. This room should be lockable and have a phone line. (Usually the vendor pays for the phone line.)
At least 1,000 sq. ft. for the TCA meeting. This may be held at a room that has another function. For example, it may be held where the Kindergarten section was held.
10 – 15 rooms ranging in sizes. This are for team rooms. Suites can be used as team rooms but care should be taken with suites if they have pull out beds or access to beds. Note that hotels are more likely to allow outside food in suites. Team rooms should have keys for the occupants. Asking for too many team rooms from the hotel can raise the price if room block is not met, but asking for too few team rooms means that the hotel can sell team room in competition with you.
Ice water refreshed regularly should be available in all meeting space. This should be complimentary.
Approximately 1100 6’x30″ (or equilvalent) rectangular draped tables and 4400 chairs. Round tables are not adequate for tournament play but are acceptable for team rooms and for parent hang out. Tables should be complimentary. Note that most hotels have sister hotel properties from which they can borrow tables. Note that 8′ x 30″ tables are an acceptable substitute. These can seat 6 players at the lower grades, but should probably seat 4 players at the high school and college level. Using two by 18″ tables is not ideal. More ballroom playing space may be needed if using two by 18″ tables, as they are half a foot wider than by 30″ tables.
At least one stage with podium and microphone. These should be complimentary. Note that if award ceremonies are held in different rooms, then more microphones are needed. (Care should be taken that the noise from one award ceremony does not disturb the players in the other sections.)
At least four phones lines with no installation fees.
Complimentary sleeping rooms provided, based on a 1 for 30-50 cumulative calculations of entire paid room block. Most hotels will give one free room for every 50 rooms sold, but there have been hotels that have given 1 free room for every 30 rooms sold.
Two one-bedroom suites provided complimentary from Thursday – Monday. Some hotels will also give a limited number of room upgrades, that is a suite for the price of a normal room.
Hotel site should have fast food or ‘kid friendly’ restaurants or menus at the site or within easy walking distance or light rail distance.
Complimentary drayage and storage. (6 – 8 pallets.) This is important is vendor is from far away, of if sets are being shipped or inventory is being shipped.
Complimentary easels (or 18″ wide tables) for movable signage.
New Key hotel security.
Be sure that the hotel has enough restrooms to handle the amount of players. Restroom location is also important.
Valet parking passes. You may want to negotiate some free valet parking.
Check the lighting. Some hotels have very poor lighting. The cost if any of extra lighting should be in the hotel contract.
All meeting space must be available on a 24-hour basics on the indicated days:
For experienced organizers in volunteer laden city:
TBA: a storage room. This is important if the organizer is from another city and is making multiple trips to the site.
Friday: Computer room, vendor room, space for side events, td staff room and registration area. All playing areas should be set up such that sets and board numbers can be put down as soon as playing areas become available.
Saturday – Sunday: All space (except if used, the separate award ceremony room.)
Sunday – separate awards ceremony room if used.
For inexperienced organizers or organizers in a non volunteer laden city:
TBA: A Storage room.
Thursday: The vendor room, the staff room, and the computer room.
Friday – Sunday: All meeting space.
Sunday: The separate awards ceremony room.
Monday: The vendor room, the computer room and one small meeting room, and a storage room.
The room rate for single, double, triple and quad must be less than $100 per night. Ideal is a rate under $90. This rate should be available at least two days before and one day after the scheduled meeting days. If the tournament is during spring break, then it would be desirable to room rate available for even more days.
Estimated room block:
Th F Sa Sun Mon
20 530 550 30 2
This tournament has a high rate of room cancellations. Coaches will reserve rooms a year in advance before they even know how many rooms they need. Coaches will be conservative and will reserve more rooms than they need. Thus there are many last minute cancellations. You may want to negotiate overbooking the block by 20 or 30 percent.
There is a slight art in hotel negotiations. The lower the room block, the less risk that an organizer has, but then players may not get a room. Too high a room block can be risky. Having a high room block will make negotiating easier as the hotel anticipates higher revenue. However, this can lead to more costs if the block is not met.
There are two terms/concepts that you must be aware with hotel contracts.
Sliding scale: This is the charge for the meeting space if you do not sell enough rooms. Be careful of per day charges. For example, be sure that you and the hotel are on the same page on the definitions. Is Friday a day or a half day etc. etc.
Attrition: This refers to the loss of revenue suffered because they sold fewer hotel rooms and also consequently sold less hotel food.
Most hotels have both a meeting space sliding scale and an attrition scale, so beware that you know just how much is owed if the room block is not met.
Ask for free space if you sell more at least 80% of your room block. Then the charges for the space should graduate down as the percentage of rooms sold goes down.
Room rebates: Some hotels will allow you to negotiate room rebates. For example, the room rate is $97. $5 of that goes back to the organizer. Note also that some hotels will not give you any money. They will apply the rebate toward your food and beverage and room bill. If your rebate exceed that bill, then you will lose the rest. Some hotels will give you the excess money. Be sure you know which the hotel is doing.
One final note about room rebates. From TCA’s point of view they are only acceptable for very stringent reasons.
A non-profit may use the hotel rebate to pay for a an experience organizer to negotiate and help organize the tournament. In other words this is a carrot for nonprofits to hold the event when they are volunteer rich but organizer poor.
In high transient cities such as San Antonio, the hotels will not trade room nights for meeting space. In this case, an organization may need the rebates to help pay for the high cost of meeting space.
If your room block is full, you probably want to negotiate with a nearby hotel for more room nights.
Hotels can help you hire off duty policemen as security guards.
Note that an the hotel will be more willing to give you a good deal if you are flexible. Perhaps you can get one of the ballrooms late Friday, that way the hotel will not lose any daytime or evening revenue. Hotels will then give you the space earlier if they have not sold it to another vendor.
A bidder can get two different types of hotel contracts. One is a proposal and the other is an actual complete bid. A proposal is good from the hotel’s point of view, since it is once page. So the hotel does not have to invest time an effort on a complete contract. There is are hidden problems with proposals. The proposal may say based on your room block, your space is free. But when you get the contract, you may find that the space is $20,000 if you do not meet your block. Another problem is that proposals do not have which meeting space the hotel is giving you. A 100,000 sq ft meeting space hotel may be only offering you half their space. For these reasons, the Scholastic Committee prefers complete contracts and not proposals.
Putting a food and beverage guarantee in the hotel contract will get you a better deal. $4,000 to feed the staff is not unreasonable.
There are two differing philosophies about scheduling. One is a USCF philosophy that all rounds for each section start at the same time. Another philosophy that this tournament has used is to stagger the rounds.
The USCF philosophy works when there is plenty of space, plenty of super quality computer operators, plenty of time between rounds and plenty of high speed computer equipment and/or copiers.
The staggered rounds seems to work better at state. This is because parents seem to congest the hall more so than at nationals. Staggering the rounds allows for not all players and parents being in the hallways at the same time. Putting the lunch break after round 1 of the staggered rounds, also allows the computer operators to ‘catch’ up with the correction and pairings changes made on the floor.
Keep these philosophies in mind while choosing a hotel.
Guidelines for Convention Venues
Anticipate Attendance: 1300-1900 kids, 800-1500 accompanying adults.
Time of year: March, spring break is customary but not required.
The same guidelines for space and tables and chairs as the hotel venue is required. Note that with a convention center bid, you can probably get even more space.
Try to get all tables and chairs comped, but be aware that many will not comp them. Be sure that the price for tables and chairs is in the contract.
Some cities have been able to let non-profits use the convention center for free. This avenue should be investigated.
Hotel rebates are acceptable for convention center bids. The rebates are used to pay for the convention center. If convention center is comped, then rebate is not okay for organizer, but it is okay for the convention center. (The convention center may comp the space for rebates.)
Convention Center contract is required with bid. This contract should mention which space the Convention Center is providing.
Hotel contracts from surrounding hotels must also be provided to insure that there are enough rooms available in the area.
If hotels are not near the hotel, then transportation plans should be provided. Note that some hotels will provide transportation for free.
Convention Centers may not have enough team rooms. Skirted cubicles have been used as a substitute. Be aware when setting prices that the surrounding hotels may compete with you. The hotels will probably sell out, so they have meeting rooms to sell. A logical move for them is to sell their space cheaply as team rooms. You may want to talk to the hotels and have them sell team rooms at hotel in exchange for the hotel providing transportation to convention center.
Some convention centers do not provide water stations. If this is the case, ensure that they provide cups by the water fountains in the playing halls.
Convention center may not comp phone lines, microphones and staging. Be sure those cost are defined in the contract. Many convention centers allow taping pairings and the like on the walls. If the convention center does not, have easel costs in the contract.
Picking a headquarter hotel for Friday’s registration and check-in and for the side event is one way to use convention center for two days instead of three. Note that there should be enough volunteers and time to set everything up if the convention center is rented only for Saturday and Sunday.
If using a housing bureau, make sure they know about the attendee’s tendency to try to get a cheaper rate by calling hotels directly.
Be sure that convention center has at least two lockable rooms. Use these for the computer room and for the book vendor.
Nearby hotel room rates are usually lower. The hotel sells rooms and still has space to rent for weddings and other events. consider this in your finances. Many will stay at hotel 6 even if farther.
Have contingencies in place in case of rainy weather and walking to and from hotels and restaurants is more problematic.
In general Convention Center events are slightly more complicated to set up, but there is usually more space available, so the actual running of the tournament can be easier. The Visitors and Convention Bureau in each city is a good resource for help.
Special venues like Universities or Fortune 500 companies can use Convention Center guidelines.
This is included to help a bidder in figuring out expenses. In general there are trophies to the top 25 individual and top 20 teams per section. In the past two years there were 25 team trophies awarded per section. Team and individual trophies in championship sections must be the same size and graduate from a minimum of 20″ in height for the lowest place up to a minimum of 42″ in size for first place. Trophies for the junior varsity sections can be slightly smaller than championship trophies. Note that side events do not have these trophy size requirements. Also note that at this time, the Kindergarten and College sections are side events. An extra label should be available in case a K-6 team wins the elementary section. The label is for the highest finishing K-5 team to be the K-5 champions.
College Scholarships awarded must be prominently advertised.
Tournament booklets. These are usually 8.5″ x 11″ folded in half. They should included tournament rules, tournament information, hotel/convention center information, score sheets, tournament history and advertisements. It is recommended that extra tournament booklets be provided for coaches.
Duplicate score sheets for top boards.
Computer equipment and copiers. Laser printers are the preferred printer.
Website expenses. Hosting and webmaster.
Mailing expenses. Traditionally, every scholastic, junior and affiliates members have received a mailing. Some organizers do more than one mailing.
Flyers to be distributed at tournaments, especially at the Grade and at Regionals.
Staffing expenses. TDs get paid. (In 6th grade and lower, their should be one TD for every 50 players, for MS one TD for every 75 players and HS should have a TD per 100 players.) The overall chief TD should be an ANTD, an NTD or as last resort, a Senior TD who has directed and organized this event. Volunteer coordinators sometimes get paid. The person who enters the pre-registrants into the computer should get paid.
Printing costs. Various signs and banners.
Tournament booklet ad from prior years state.
Food for staff.
Valet parking costs.
Various hotel costs.
Phone bills and internet provider bills.
Van or car rentals if bringing chess sets.
If buying chess sets, then price of chess sets.
Tee shirt costs.
Staff shirt and/or badge cost.
Mouse pads and tournament hat cost. (If applicable.)
Master analysis and simul costs.
Graphic design costs.
Scholarship awarder hotel room cost. (If not one of 50 rooms.)
TCA membership fees.
USCF membership fees.
Press agent (if you choose to hire one.)
Trophy shipment costs.
Bleacher rental and set up, if the organizer chooses to use bleachers.
Team Room fees.
Room rebates (if applicable.)
Sale of tee shirts, mouse pads, etc.
Chess Vendor commission.
Sale of chess sets (if applicable.)
Side Event fees.
Tournament booklet ads.
TCA membership commission, (if applicable.)
USCF membership commission, (if applicable.)
Sponsorship, (if applicable.)
Booth sales. (example, Think Like A King will buy a booth for this
Trophy shipment fees.
The organizer/bidder should submit a résumé of organizing experience. (This can be waive if the scholastic Committee is aware of the organizer’s/bidder’s experience.)
Synopsis of Bidding Organization
This should include the following:
Is the bidder incorporated? If so, what state?
Is the bidder nonprofit or for profit?
Is the bidder a 501(c)3 ?
Is the bidder a public school or university.
Is the bidder paying a hotel rebate or a fee to another individual for help in preparing the bid?
Any other relevant information that the Scholastic Committee should know?
Statement of Insurance
The bidder and/or bidding organization will have Insurance coverage.
The Organizer shall maintain at all times and in full force and effect commercial liability insurance covering bodily injury and property damage in a minimum amount of no less than $1,000,000 per person / $2,000,000 per occurrence, together with such other insurance as is required by the state of Texas, including workers’ compensation insurance and vehicle liability insurance and will furnish proof of such insurance to the Texas Chess Association upon demand. The organizer will also maintain any insurance required by the hotel and/or convention center.
General Aggregate Limit (other than Products-Completed Aggregate Limit — $2,000,000 Products-Completed Operations Aggregate Limit — $2,000,000 Personal & Advertising Injury Limit — $1,000,000 Each Occurrence Limit — $1,000,000 Fire Damage Limit (any one fire) — $100,000 Medical Expense Limit (any one person) — $5,000
Indemnification of State Association
The organizer, if not the Texas Chess Association, must agree to indemnify and hold The Texas Chess Association harmless from any and all claims, lawsuits, debts, obligations, and liabilities, including without limitation attorneys fees and cost associated therewith, relating to or arising out of the tournament.
Statement of Tournament Guideline Compliance
The bidder and/or bidding organization will comply with the tournament regulations and guidelines in effect at the time of the Southwest Open where this bid is awarded.