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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #21 Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:39 am 
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HKA wrote:
...My understanding the loss was approximately $20,000. ...


The most accurate number that I have heard is around 22,000. Apparently there is still some uncertainty about it.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #22 Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:10 am 
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HKA wrote:
Thanks for the compliments, although I believe if you read my post a little more carefully, some of your answers are there.

I am NOT suggesting that the goal should be to make $30,000, although some might think that should be the goal. Again, to me, the perfect Congress should break even exactly, but, in order to make sure you do not lose money, it is usual that some money is made. When I ran the Congress, I lowered prices from the year before and increased the prize fund. I was diligent in cost controls and some folks complained, and others said I should raise the price since folks paid more last year and make more money. I cannot recall how much profit resulted, but it was under $10,000 and more than I would have liked (by the way, I do not mean to brag - though I take credit for a frugal overal philosophy - Sam Zimmerman handled far more of the detail work and the follow through than I did - he gets 90% of the credit). Because I think we should make it as affordable as possible.

My understanding the loss was approximately $20,000. There were about 400 folks at the Congress, therefore, breakeven would have meant $50 more each to close that gap. Of course, $50 more means a few more folks do not come, and the problem continues.

The Minutes excerpt referred to a $30,000 profit this year - to turn a $20,000 loss to a $30,000 gain with 400 folk would be, I believe, $125 more each.

Yes it is difficult to forcast - which is precisely what I said. You have some per person costs, some fixed costs. You need to charge enough to cover both, but if you set the price point at an attendance of 400, and 500 show, the fixed costs stay the same, and a profit occurs. If only 300 show, a loss results.

Why hold a Congress there? Again, did you read my post? First of all folks were willing to do it. Second, it was thought that finally having a Congress in So Cal was an important thing to do. It was hoped that a new location would bring in fresh locals and more folks from other places with the event being in a new area.

I do not have any inside info on what went wrong, but I have alot of experience with how these things are run. It is easy to not think of everything you need for an event that moves to different locations each time it happens. And it is important that this be a movable feast, because people's first Congress is usually one closest to them, and it is usually not their last.


I don't know if it's your intention, HKA, but t hurts my feelings when you ask if I read your post. Of course I read your post, and that is why I asked some clarifying questions. The purpose of writing is communication, and the fact that I still had questions means that there were some parts of the post that I wanted more clarification on.

I tried to make it clear that I appreciate that you are sharing information with us. I am not involved with the AGA, so even after reading your post, I just wanted some clarification. I didn't realize that asking for clarification would be met with claims that I didn't read what you posted. I am simply trying to communicate here.

That being said, it sounds like the $30000 profit you were mentioning in your post was a different figure than the $30000 loss that Feng Yun cited. I was confused, because these were the same numbers. It also sounds like a loss was not anticipated.

Despite having read both your original post and reply, however, it's still confusing to me why it was decided to hold congress in "So Cal" when it is so expensive there. Sure, people were willing to do it and there may be new locals that would attend, but a $30000 or $20000 or whatever amount loss is quite significant, and it seems odd to me that there aren't other areas in America that would have a good attendance without incurring such a loss.

But I am not asking for any further clarification on this, I have read both of your posts multiple times, and it doesn't seem like clarifying questions are very welcome.

In any case, thanks for the detail that you have provided. I think that it at least gives a better picture of what's going on with the AGA.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #23 Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:30 am 
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So reading all the threads posts so far, it doesn't seem to me there's a huge scandal. It does look like the AGA could use a volunteer actuary to help manage risks in planning, especially if a lesser known venue like Vancouver is to be considered in the future.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #24 Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:39 am 
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snorri wrote:
So reading all the threads posts so far, it doesn't seem to me there's a huge scandal. It does look like the AGA could use a volunteer actuary to help manage risks in planning, especially if a lesser known venue like Vancouver is to be considered in the future.


Alas, the AGA could use many volunteers, not all of which are available. :(


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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #25 Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:45 am 
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pwaldron wrote:
How much E-Journal coverage is really necessary, and is it all that beneficial?

eeekkk! this is the only way I get to go :)
I hope we're being beneficial.


It's a cost-benefit analysis. Suppose that the cost for EJ congress comps plus the extra office space is on the order of $5000 (just a guess). A pro game analysis can be had for $50, so what's better: congress coverage or having the E-Journal publish two extra game commentaries every week of the year?

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #26 Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:49 am 
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pwaldron wrote:
snorri wrote:
So reading all the threads posts so far, it doesn't seem to me there's a huge scandal. It does look like the AGA could use a volunteer actuary to help manage risks in planning, especially if a lesser known venue like Vancouver is to be considered in the future.


Alas, the AGA could use many volunteers, not all of which are available. :(


Yes, getting volunteers is hard. When things happen that make people good people quit, word gets around.


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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #27 Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:57 am 
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The loss seems to me to have been explained well enough.

More concerning to me is the lack of follow through. The e-journal reported a loss and promised a follow up response. Instead the board decided that it had "blown over".

A loss is not a big deal, it happens. But when the e-journal reports that we will get a follow up and we do not it starts to get more concerning. People appreciate when organizations do what they say they will.

I very much enjoyed the 2011 congress though. It was the best vacation I've taken in years.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #28 Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:47 am 
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Well, my perspective on all this is different:

I thought that the Congress in Santa Barbara was so good, I think we should keep doing it there every year. The weather was fantastic. The food was fantastic. The ocean views were fantastic. The walking/jogging trail around the lagoon was fantastic. The logistics of getting there were easy. The go was fantastic. Why not go back?

I would be happy to pay $125 more to do it again, if that's what it takes. And presumably, we could learn from the loss that we took last year, and find a way to do things again without that loss and without having to charge significantly more.

I know the locals who helped organize last year won't want to do all that work again so soon, so we'd need to find a way for the rest of us to somehow organize it, but majority of the groundwork was done last year. We just need to find a way to leverage that and learn how to not lose $22000.

Thank you to all who worked on the 2011 Congress, I really enjoyed it!


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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #29 Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:42 pm 
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EricBackus wrote:
... we could learn from the loss that we took last year, and find a way to do things again without that loss ...

...and learn how to not lose $22000...


I think all of us in this thread would agree with that. We're just waiting for the AGA to tell us what happened. Learning isn't likely if all the details stay hidden.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #30 Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:35 pm 
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Just to me this whole thing does not sound right...

One of the reason for congress not breaking even or turning a modest profit as because of no shows. Usually when you register for a conference there is a drop dead date when you have to pay or else you will be deregistered. If this typical process was followed, there should have been red flags indicating there were not going to be enough people attending. This would have allowed the leaders to work with the venue to reduce costs. How did the organizers allow at least 50 people to slide on payment and get themselves into this issue?

Personally, this goes to the point I made in a previous thread about AGA and over all leadership issues. With two members of the board of AGA having things to do with the congress this reflects on the overall leadership and vision.

Also, the issue with the board minutes now being late again and the issue of not having a secretary does not cut it. I have been on boards or in meetings where there was no secretary and the duties have been shared. No organization of this size should not go with out posted board meetings for half a year.

Once again poor leadership.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #31 Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 6:19 pm 
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direwolf wrote:
One of the reasons for congress not breaking even or turning a modest profit was because of no shows. Usually when you register for a conference there is a drop dead date when you have to pay or else you will be deregistered. If this typical process was followed, there should have been red flags indicating there were not going to be enough people attending. This would have allowed the leaders to work with the venue to reduce costs. How did the organizers allow at least 50 people to slide on payment and get themselves into this issue?
...


Many years ago, when I was helping run chess tournaments, we would contact for minimal costs way ahead of time, and include a clause that we could add more later. For example, six months ahead we would tell the caterers that we needed food for fifty or more. We were only committed to paying for fifty meals. So we had food costs at a guaranteed fixed price, and we had the caterers guaranteed for that weekend. Then, as registration increased above fifty, we would give the caterers weekly updates so they knew exactly how many meals to bring.

We did have a no-refunds-after-this-date day. When that day arrived, we did a balance sheet, and made sure that all of our expenses could be covered. If they were not, we had a list of expenses that could be trimmed back ( such as making the trophies smaller with plastic bases instead of marble ).
By that date, we knew if things were going badly and we could make changes. And occasionally we did. WE NEVER LOST MONEY. Although, I must admit, there were a few years that the trophies were kinda small and ugly...

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #32 Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:48 pm 
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I was going to push on these items (slow minutes and no statement about 2011) at tonight's board meeting, but it did not take place as scheduled due to some having written it down on the wrong date. So I wrote some emails; it sounds like a statement is in the works and I'm reasonably confident we'll get something published soon.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #33 Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:27 pm 
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daniel_the_smith wrote:
I was going to push on these items (slow minutes and no statement about 2011) at tonight's board meeting, but it did not take place as scheduled due to some having written it down on the wrong date. So I wrote some emails; it sounds like a statement is in the works and I'm reasonably confident we'll get something published soon.


BUMP. Any news on this?

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #34 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:13 am 
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Joaz Banbeck wrote:
BUMP. Any news on this?


Sorta. The email thread I started went on to make life on the board very exciting for a week or so. Unfortunately there's little in the way of tangible results as of yet. Hopefully I will have more news later today.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #35 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:07 am 
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EricBackus wrote:
Well, my perspective on all this is different:

I thought that the Congress in Santa Barbara was so good, I think we should keep doing it there every year. The weather was fantastic. The food was fantastic. The ocean views were fantastic. The walking/jogging trail around the lagoon was fantastic. The logistics of getting there were easy. The go was fantastic. Why not go back?

I would be happy to pay $125 more to do it again, if that's what it takes. And presumably, we could learn from the loss that we took last year, and find a way to do things again without that loss and without having to charge significantly more.

I know the locals who helped organize last year won't want to do all that work again so soon, so we'd need to find a way for the rest of us to somehow organize it, but majority of the groundwork was done last year. We just need to find a way to leverage that and learn how to not lose $22000.

Thank you to all who worked on the 2011 Congress, I really enjoyed it!


I haven't been yet to a single Go congress. Im not an AGA member either, so this is a voice without any kind of vote.

I believe that it is better to provide a better experience than a cheaper one. California is much nicer than North Carolina. I've been to both states and my experience was vastly different. I think its a much better long-term bet to go for a nicer place even if it was more expensive. The more people it gets the easier it will be to get sponsors.

In general, i think its better to have fewer hardcore fans, than a lot of "meh's". And a great venue makes a lot of hardcore fans. Plus it can be a decent familiy vacation with all the beaches and the sort.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #36 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:14 am 
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Kaya.gs wrote:
California is much nicer than North Carolina.
Yeah, well, you know, that's just like uh your opinion, man.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #37 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:58 am 
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Kaya.gs wrote:

I haven't been yet to a single Go congress. Im not an AGA member either, so this is a voice without any kind of vote.

I believe that it is better to provide a better experience than a cheaper one. California is much nicer than North Carolina. I've been to both states and my experience was vastly different. I think its a much better long-term bet to go for a nicer place even if it was more expensive. The more people it gets the easier it will be to get sponsors.

In general, i think its better to have fewer hardcore fans, than a lot of "meh's". And a great venue makes a lot of hardcore fans. Plus it can be a decent familiy vacation with all the beaches and the sort.




its a question of priorities.

Kaya.gs wrote:
The more people it gets the easier it will be to get sponsors.

Kaya.gs wrote:
In general, i think its better to have fewer hardcore fans, than a lot of "meh's"

This is in particular. you really can't have it both ways. in the current economy, cheaper will probably be better with regards to getting more people.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #38 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:01 am 
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The strange thing about the USGC is that the AGA does not organize it on a national level. It is dependent on local chapters to organize and host the event. This is why it is in N.C. again this year, and why Seattle is proposed for 2013. No other chapter has stepped up to the plate with a viable plan.

In this system, each year (with the exception of repeat locations) the congress is built from the ground up with local volunteers, working in their spare time, who may not have organized a large convention before. With this in mind, it is not surprising that some years there are big cost overruns and some years there is a surplus. It is dependent on the the organizational and accounting skills of the local chapter's volunteers.

Personally, I think that the AGA should take over organizing the event, using people experienced with the process. That would prevent overruns like we are discussing and open the convention up to locations that are not based on strong local chapters. However, that would also be dependent on volunteers and/or funds that the AGA does not have.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA losses in 2011 Congress
Post #39 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:56 am 
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Redbeard wrote:
... I think that the AGA should take over organizing the event...

In 2011, Prez Abramson did that.

Redbeard wrote:
... using people experienced with the process...

But they brought in people with no experience running congress.

It was the worst of both worlds: no local familarity, and no Congress experience.

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Post #40 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:26 pm 
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Joaz Banbeck wrote:
Redbeard wrote:
... I think that the AGA should take over organizing the event...

In 2011, Prez Abramson did that.

Redbeard wrote:
... using people experienced with the process...

But they brought in people with no experience running congress.

It was the worst of both worlds: no local familarity, and no Congress experience.


This is really getting annoying. You actually started this thread by bringing some discussion from another thread - starting with your post indicating that you were happy about the loss.

Correct me if I am wrong, but you were one of the locals providing that familiarity but you quit. Clearly you were missed, as an attorney, it was truly bizarre that the Chief Judge of the Missouri Supreme Court made my coffee every morning.

My understanding is the organizers found out you quit when you posted it here, not with any personal communication with them. You were asked here what your concerns were - with months to go before Congress - and you did not respond.

Only now in this thread do you refer to failures of outreach with the local Asian population as your concern.

And now you attack the directors for their lack of local familiarity and lack of experience, while touting your own running chess events.

Did you, with your experience and local familiarity, volunteer to direct the Congress?

All I know is the event was well run in the sense of it was a delightful venue and everyone had a good time.

I have no doubt that people made mistakes. I am pretty confident they were honest ones. It would certainly be useful to have an understanding of what they were, and maybe even who made them.

I just would like to understand why you are taking such delight in it, and such pride that you saw it coming and jumped ship.

If it were me, and I believed the Congress failed because of lack of experience and lack of local knowledge, I would not be bragging about how I had both and was smart enough to quit.

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