Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Picking World Challenge Venues- first in a series

This post is the first of several that will analyze the responses to our World Challenge XIX on-line survey; this first one will address the Myrtle Beach venue, and compare and contrast it to our five-year stint in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas offered a number of attractions, not the least of which is the ambiance of an internationally-recognized venue. Fremont Street, with its $100M, five-and-one-half block long VivaVision is an incredible backdrop for the show. Everyday, 25,000 people walk under the impressive canopy, providing us with a built-in audience. Hotel accommodations are literally at the doorstep and the pricing was very attractive. However, Las Vegas is not without its distractions. Specifically, to get to your room, you need an Air-Pak®. There is no place to erect our own Tent City and bunker gear cannot be strewn about, impeding the very narrow corridors for the foot traffic. We work diligently to keep the epoxy-coated surface dry and strategically place “Water Hog” mats to mitigate against the slip hazards.

We are also required to provide the casinos with unobstructed access to their bars and we cannot encroach on the entrances to the casinos. The nightly show takes a almost 10 minute bite out of every hour of competition since we have to shut down our operations while the VivaVision goes live. Getting course helpers is also a major challenge. And then, some people just don’t like the atmosphere.

Myrtle Beach, on the other hand is “family friendly” and far less intense. For a week, we owned a parking lot of some several hundred thousand square feet, thereby allowing lots of living rooms for the small army of day-campers. The infrastructure was the best ever with great assistance provided by Horry County, Myrtle Beach, the National Guard and the Civilian Emergency Response Team. Aside from the orientation of the tower (regrettably placed under heavy overcast), this perfectly flat venue provided a platform for tons of personal and new World Records.

The crowd distinguished themselves from the Las Vegas spectators in that these were people who were invested in the event. They stayed till the end. We had bleachers for nearly everyone. And to prove how dialed in the audience was, when Clayton County set the new World Record, they knew it before we could announce it. While some of you commented that this was just a “glorified Regional,” I would disagree. The vast majority of the respondents greatly preferred Myrtle Beach over Las Vegas.

When people complained about costs, they did not provide any details. I do know that lodging deals were very attractive. Airfare pricing might be what people are referencing. Since 48% of attendees drove (a new high), then the other half took an airplane. Getting way out ahead of the typical escalation of costs is the best way to mitigate the expense. Wherever we are going in 2011, we’re going to give you plenty of “heads-up” time to do some price shopping.

We recognize that we simply cannot satisfy everyone’s first place selection. Some of you will vote with your feet. If due to other factors beyond our individual or collective control your selection is not available, we apologize.

There are a lot of factors involved in selecting sites for hosting the World Challenge, the first being that the host actually wants you. In the context of all the acts in Las Vegas we are a very small event and hence, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) does not provide any financial support. This is a very expensive event to put on. Myrtle Beach CVB and their partners collectively raised half of our operating costs.

Go to the head of line.

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