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Thread: 5.A Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Halifax Expo and aftermath

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    Default 5.A Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Halifax Expo and aftermath

    Fred McKim and I attended the CSTA conference in Halifax in early March of this year. The only downside of attending this event was that we were caught in some bad weather and thus were unable to depart on the day we were supposed to leave. I had an adventure at the airport overnight. Fred managed to make it back to the hotel.

    The CSTA sponsored our participation by paying for our flights and accommodations in a modern hotel in downtown Halifax just around the corner from the convention centre which was the focus of many of the activities of the conference. A key component was meeting with 25 different communities who were interested in chess and chess events.

    It is likely that this opportunity was the direct result of being recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee as the national sporting organization for chess some two or three years ago. Getting recognition from the Canadian Olympic Committee as a national sporting body was an important milestone for the chess community. At the time, I was quite excited by the development. I saw it as a stepping stone to sponsorship. It was, but the path was not straight and broad but led us down a twisted and turning path through the woods. In any case by some combination of luck, and preparation this recognition led to an invitation to the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance expo in Halifax.

    We were not entirely prepared for the warm reception we received.

    My one visit to a tourism bureau office was a stop at the Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island office when we decided to bid for the NAYCC, CYCC and Canadian Open after all the other possible organizers had given up fairly late in the schedule. I spent an hour talking to them and eventually got a sponsorship check for $5000 which meant the Canadian Open could break even with a $15,000 prize fund. One takeaway from that meeting is that we probably could have got more in the way of sponsorship if we had approached them two years prior to the event because that was the time horizon for their budgets. We were begging for crumbs very late in the game and were fortunate that we got a sympathetic hearing and did emerge with a fairly generous sponsorship given the constraints that they were operating under. A key lesson for us is that we need to plan ahead and arrange bids for events at least two years out so that we can be part of the budgeting process for the tourism and sports tourism offices.


    Chess tends to be the poor cousin to other sports and activities. We don't really ask for much and as a result we often get it.

    The following is what I wrote about the CSTA Halifax gathering on our public forum:

    I would like to report on some of the results of this conference which brought together over 400 individuals from Canadian sports organizations, municipalities, hotel chains, airlines and individual hotels and resorts, universities and colleges, speakers and an interesting cross-section of Canadian society.

    We met with 25 organizations and municipalities during the speed dating portion of the conference. We probably met with a similar number of organizations outside of the speed dating. There were also some social events which included networking with the attendees. Of course there was some overlap between the meetings and the socializing. We are already aware of a number of the communities that we met with because they had either recently hosted a major event or were about to in the case of Quebec City, Regina, Kingston and Sault Ste. Marie.

    I have started the process of referring these contacts to local CFC organizers. Fred seems to be doing the same. I have referred some of the Alberta and Quebec and Ontario communities to organizers already. This resulted in a positive post from Larry Bevand since I sent him referrals from Laval and Kingston tourism bureaus. I also sent the Laval referral to the FQE and one of my contacts in both the FQE and CMA who has been quite active lately. I have contacted a BC organizer to assist me in sorting out who should be referred the various BC communities that we met with. We have been experiencing some problems in communities like Montreal and Toronto in finding venues for flagship tournaments. I believe that contacts from attendees from places like Laval and Mississauga promise to alleviate some of this difficulty.

    Many of the communities were interested in hosting chess events and were quite open to the idea of offering sponsorships in order to attract these tournaments. If we manage to follow up on these initial contacts properly it is likely that we would be able to fill up our schedule of events like the Canadian Open, CYCC, NAYCC, and other tournaments for many years to come. A few of the contacts were from small communities looking to establish a chess club.


    The conference cost us very little as most of the food, hospitality and transportation costs was covered by the organizers. If we could find similar events I think we would very quickly fill up our calendar. Competition for the Canadian Open and CYCC and other tournaments is about to heat up significantly.

    I see no downside from taking part in this event aside from the difficulty in getting home which meant that I was on the tarmac for 4.5 hours and lost a night of sleep on Friday evening/Saturday morning.

    I and Fred have spent quite a bit of time following up on the contacts made during the CSTA conference including a meeting I had yesterday (Friday May 25th) in Windsor with the sales manager of a national hotel chain along with his local counterpart at an affiliated hotel. I have passed his name and contact information for a number of upcoming tournaments including the 2019 CYCC, Canadian Open and NAYCC. I believe strategic partnerships with companies and individuals in the hospitality field are a promising area to explore.

    The main implications of our CSTA experience is that there is a positive hunger for opportunities that we can present to communities and businesses for hosting chess tournaments. They are willing and eager to offer sponsorship and assistance in finding suitable sites for hosting these events. I am aware of at least two tournaments that have their origins in sponsorship and contacts developed at this conference. I am aware of one very large well sponsored bid for a Canadian Youth Chess Championship and Canadian Open in Mississauga in 2020 that should come out of this.

    Participating in this conference was probably the most productive few days we have had from the point of view of sponsorship. How productive it was will remain to be seen and will depend on the efforts of twenty or thirty organizers. The early returns are quite promising though not without surprises. In the case of one local organizer we experienced some irritation that we were interfering in what he thought of as his territory. Fortunately that seems to be a minority opinion.
    Last edited by Vladimir Drkulec; 05-26-2018 at 10:22 PM.

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    Thank you, Vladimir and Fred, for attending this conference!
    It's certainly a step in the right direction!
    Thanks,
    Michael Barron

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Barron View Post
    Thank you, Vladimir and Fred, for attending this conference!
    It's certainly a step in the right direction!
    You are most welcome. It was an eye opening experience that just keeps on giving.

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    Did someone show interest in Women's chess?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pierre Dénommée View Post
    Did someone show interest in Women's chess?
    They showed interest in chess as a way of generating tourist dollars and selling hotel rooms as many of these tourism bureaus are financed by a locally or provincially imposed hotel tax which is used to finance incentives. I think we did offer the option of packaging various tournaments including the women's closed into a chess festival which could be a vehicle to bringing a large number of people to a chess tournament.

    Two of the communities are talking to organizers about creating their own chess festivals which would not require any bids to the CFC but will provide an opportunity for recurring CFC tournaments that they can own and grow. I had a similar conversation with the sales manager for a hotel chain that I met with in Windsor and have also had similar conversations with the sports tourism officer here in Windsor. I have been largely AWOL as an organizer since the Caesars Windsor Summer of Chess in 2016 aside from helping the Massey High School Chess club put on some tournaments including a YCC just two days ago. I am ready to get back into organizing.

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    Vlad, great achievement in securing $5000 sponsorship. Thank you for all the great work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vladimir Drkulec View Post
    They showed interest in chess as a way of generating tourist dollars and selling hotel rooms as many of these tourism bureaus are financed by a locally or provincially imposed hotel tax which is used to finance incentives. I think we did offer the option of packaging various tournaments including the women's closed into a chess festival which could be a vehicle to bringing a large number of people to a chess tournament.

    Two of the communities are talking to organizers about creating their own chess festivals which would not require any bids to the CFC but will provide an opportunity for recurring CFC tournaments that they can own and grow. I had a similar conversation with the sales manager for a hotel chain that I met with in Windsor and have also had similar conversations with the sports tourism officer here in Windsor. I have been largely AWOL as an organizer since the Caesars Windsor Summer of Chess in 2016 aside from helping the Massey High School Chess club put on some tournaments including a YCC just two days ago. I am ready to get back into organizing.
    Which may force us to do like France: organize the Closed and the Open simultaneously as a large Chess festival in a single location. This way, we could attract enough players to interest the hotels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Lo View Post
    Vlad, great achievement in securing $5000 sponsorship. Thank you for all the great work.
    You are very welcome. If we are talking about the CSTA conference, I am pretty sure that we will get quite a bit more than $5000 in sponsorship. Hopefully those that I have put in contact with tourism bureaus will keep us informed of the result of their contacts as the this will have a strong bearing on future participation in similar conferences in the future. Fred and I spent four days at the conference so we would like to see some positive results from this time investment.
    Last edited by Vladimir Drkulec; 05-31-2018 at 09:11 AM.

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    Thanks to you and to Fred for your efforts. This a trail to keep warm!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hal Bond View Post
    Thanks to you and to Fred for your efforts. This a trail to keep warm!
    The issue at the moment is that there is a shortage of organizers to keep this going.

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